Jim Popowich believed deeply in the power of mentorship. Throughout his career, he lent an ear and offered his perspective to many students. His willingness to help people find their way extended to colleagues in the industry as well.
“My first impression of him was that he was a mining executive who really cared,” reflected CIM Past President Roy Slack. “That first impression became a lasting impression as I had the honour of working with him on the CIM Safety Committee, which more recently became the CIM Health & Safety Society. Jim was an active participant in our H&SS executive and his passion for safety was only matched by his passion for our industry. I really believe that his interest in safety came naturally based on how much he cared for the people in our industry.”
Always prepared to share his time and expertise, Mr. Popowich joined CIM Council in 2007 and took on the role of President in 2008. His work with CIM centred around improving the health and well-being of those working within our industry, as well as the vitality of the Institute itself.
Pierre Julien, CIM President, recounted, “His character and commitment to CIM certainly showed up when CIM needed him. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the CIM annual conference, Jim joined our small group of CIM current & past presidents in our Patrons Campaign where he leveraged his executive-level relationships to help us raise funds that helped keep CIM running. Jim was there in our time of need. He was a very thoughtful and gracious individual. A real gentleman!”
Having grown up on a grain farm in small-town Saskatchewan, Mr. Popowich never lost his appreciation for how nature and community health intersect. That understanding led him to become an active steward for the natural environment as Chair of the Board at the Allan Brooks Nature Centre and a tireless fundraiser for community hospitals and clinics.
Mr. Popowich received his M.A. in Mining Engineering in 1969 from the University of Saskatchewan. He went on to serve as President and CEO of Elk Valley Coal from 2004 until his retirement in 2006. In 2020, Mr. Popowich received the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA).
CIM CEO Angela Hamlyn describes Mr. Popowich as “A visionary leader, a champion of safety, a mentor to a multitude of students, a kind and considerate man, and a passionate CIMer to the core. Jim had an incredible impact on our Institute, our industry and the lives and careers of so many. On behalf of CIM we extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”