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MBA Clubs: Sauder School Of Business – Natural Resources Club

Canada is a resource-based economy and Vancouver is a hub for mining and forestry – ideal ground for Sauder's Natural Resources Club.


Thu Jul 31 2014

Brett Hanniganpresident of the Sauder School of BusinessNatural Resources Club at the University of British Columbia, explains why he thinks water is the most important natural resource.

He also explains the benefits of being part of the MBA Society at Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School, for those with a strong interest in the natural resources sector.

What are the club’s main aims?

The club aims to educate its members, and provide opportunities to meet and interact with industry professionals. Many UBC MBAs aspire to work in the resource sector, as Canada is a resource-based economy and Vancouver is a hub for mining and forestry, and has a fast developing liquefied natural gas industry.

Club members also have the opportunity to participate in a natural resource mentorship program – the Natural Resources Group – where they are paired with Sauder alumni working in the industry. The program teaches students how best to prepare for a career in that sector, and provides an opportunity to connect with potential employers.

Who is the most exciting speaker you’ve had this year?

Tim Vipond, a former investment banker and currently an analyst at Goldcorp, a global gold mining company based out of Vancouver. He taught a one-day course on mining valuation that involved working through a mining acquisition opportunity.

In addition to teaching the fundamentals of financial modelling, the course revealed factors that have the most impact on a potential mining investment, such as commodity price, grade, recovery, taxes, royalties, mine life and rehabilitation costs.

This course was an excellent opportunity for students to look at how mining companies assess potential M&A opportunities, and put our coursework into practice.

What aspect of the natural resource sector should people be keeping an eye on?

Despite Canada’s abundance of water it is becoming increasingly scarce in many parts of the world, and upping its importance is key.

Not only necessary for human consumption, it is a key ingredient in both the mining and oil and gas sectors, as it is used in drilling, mineral processing, oil refining and the production of bitumen using steam-assisted gravity drainage.

Balancing the needs of people and industry is difficult, and the scarcity of water is a serious issue. The impact of how this natural resource sector is managed could be far-reaching given its widespread uses.

What do you think is the most efficient form of renewable energy, and why?

The most efficient form of renewable energy right now is geothermal. Initial costs associated with installation can be high, but the energy savings are enormous. Geothermal plants produce a fewer amount of greenhouse gases relative to fossil fuel plants, and the water used to extract heat from the Earth can be recycled.

Geothermal energy does have its limitations, namely cost and geographic barriers, but it is efficient and constant.

When will we have to decide which renewable resources to use before the non-renewable resources run out?

I believe that we still have a long time before non-renewable resources are depleted. Efficient technology is making it possible to access and extract non-renewable resources from unconventional settings that we wouldn’t have dreamt possible 50 or 100 years ago.

As non-renewable resources become increasingly scarce, we can expect the price of these resources to increase – if there is appropriate demand. Increasing prices will cause currently uneconomic renewable resources to become economic.

Further advancements in technology may also lead to new discoveries. Although I don’t think a decision is imminent in my lifetime, it is important that we continue to use and develop renewable resources, and reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources.