Governing Council

The Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining is an industry-driven organization working with mineral resource companies to improve and enhance the industry, help address its needs for training and education, and conduct applied research to provide solutions to industry issues.

That focus is reflected in the makeup of CNIM’s Governing Council, whose goals are to provide advice to the University for establishing CNIM’s priorities. The majority of the members are from industry.

The Governing Council also provides strategic direction to CNIM. Its expert advice helps CNIM determine what industrial training is needed, what will be required in the future and what resources might be available in the industry to help make that happen.

The council meets quarterly to review plans, and set budgets and priorities.


Brad Thrall
Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Thrall brings over 25 years of experience and accomplishments in mine operations management, environmental management and mine-closure planning and execution and has been involved in the Yukon mining industry for over 18 years. Mr. Thrall holds a B.Sc. in Metallurgical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and an MBA from the University of Colorado. He currently serves as Vice President of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, Chair of the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining and Chair of the Yukon Producers Group

Alexco Resource Corp. (Elsa/Keno)

Hank Schmidt
Director of Supply Chain Management, Minto Metals Corp.


Mike Burke
Geologist, Alexco

Dr. Paul West-Sells
President, Casino Mining Corporation

Dr. West-Sells has over 20 years' experience in the mining industry. After obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Metallurgical Engineering, he worked with BHP, Placer Dome, and Barrick in increasingly senior roles in Research and Development and Project Development. Since 2006, Dr. West-Sells has worked for Western Copper, holding a number of technical and executive positions. Currently, as the President and COO of Western Copper and Gold, Dr. West-Sells oversees the day to day operations of the company.  Dr. West-Sells currently sits on the Yukon Minerals Advisory Board and the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining Governing Council.

Robin Black
Chief Geologist, BMC Minerals

Mr. Black is currently the Vice President of Exploration at BMC Minerals. The company’s focus is the development and expansion of the poly metallic ABM deposit at the Kudz Ze Kayah project in Yukon as well as identifying additional opportunities in the base metal sector. Robin is extensively involved in many areas of the company, but he is primarily responsible for leading BMC’s geology team in all aspects of exploration and resource development. His 15+ years of experience in the mining and exploration industry have seen him participate in base and precious metal projects throughout the Americas and West Africa. Mr. Black believes in an integrated multidisciplinary geoscience approach to resource development that spans from grassroots targeting to incorporating geometallurgy at the early stages of resource development. Mr. Black holds an M.Sc. in geology from Acadia University, is a registered Geoscientist with the Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia and is active on several volunteer boards within the exploration and mining industry.

Christian Roldan
Study Manager, Newmont Goldcorp Inc.

Darlene Schmidt
Human Resource Superintendent, Victoria Gold

Isaac Fage
GroundTruth Exploration

Kurt Dieckmann
President/CEO, Yukon Workers Compensation Health & Safety Board


Sidney Schafrik
Senior Advisor - Mining & Strategic Initiatives, Trondek Hwechin

Dr. Schafrik returned back to the Yukon two years ago to join the Tr'ondek Hwech'in. He was the first Aboriginal graduate of Mining Engineering in 2006 and is a Professional Engineer. His master’s work specialized in the Due Diligence in the Evaluation of Social Risk for First Nations Communities. His PhD work was conducted with the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation and focused on the use of packed sphere modelling for airflow and heat exchange analysis in broken or fragmented rock. Dr. Schafrik has worked extensively with both Federal, Provincial, and First Nations governments in almost every aspect of mining and infrastructure.  


Dr. Lesley Brown
President & Vice Chancellor, Yukon University

Dr. Lesley Brown is an experienced senior academic leader, bringing a decade of leadership experience from two institutions in AlbertaMount Royal University (MRU) in Calgary where she served as provost and vice-president, Academic, and University of Lethbridge where she served as a faculty member and an administrator in a number of roles including vice-president Research (interim), associate vice-president (Research) and vice-provost (Academic).

Dr. Brown is also an accomplished scholar in the field of Kinesiology, with a research specialization in balance and fall prevention in the elderly and people with Parkinson’s disease.  

Brown holds a PhD in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo, a Master of Human Kinetics in Biomechanics from the University of Windsor and a Bachelor of Physical Education from McMaster University. She also completed a three-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Oregon. 

Dr. Shelagh Rowles

Provost and Vice-President Academic, Yukon University 

Rowles joined Yukon College in 1991 and brings 30 years of experience developing programs with Yukon First Nations, Yukon communities, government and industry stakeholders to Yukon University. Throughout her career as an instructor, administrator and Dean, Shelagh has endeavoured to ensure that programs and training are customized to meet local needs while maintaining national and territorial standards.

Shelagh holds an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. from the University of Saskatchewan in the field of history,  public policy, and innovation. Her thesis work explores how prepared Yukon is for the 21st century tech driven economy through the lens of Yukon’s mining, construction and public service sectors. 

Dan Anton
Executive Director, Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining, Yukon University

Dan is a passionate Northerner who believes the North can lead the way for Canada and the world for innovative approaches in collaborating with rural and First Nation communities to maximize the educational, employment and social opportunities that the global economy brings.

Dan has held progressive leadership positions spanning his 20 year career with Yukon University. He holds a Master of Education (SFU) and his work has been in service to the certification and workforce development needs of industry, business, government and community learners.

Much of his career involved his role as an Instructor Trainer with the Canadian Red Cross where he was an active contributor to the curriculum and content of the Red Cross first aid programs at a national level. A life-long Yukoner, he has experienced firsthand the growth and impacts influenced by mining and exploration in the Territory as well as the emergence of self-determining first nation governments.

Dr. Bronwyn Hancock
Associate Vice President, Research, Yukon University

Dr. Bronwyn Hancock is responsible for the planning, development, and execution of research at Yukon University, and worked to catalyze growth in research and scholarly activity at Yukon College as it transitioned to Yukon University, Canada’s first university north of sixty.

Throughout her work, Dr. Hancock supports the creation of opportunities for northern students to be involved in research. She is passionate about ensuring Yukon University is a place where co-created research serves to advance reconciliation in Canada’s North, and where northern students are empowered to ask and explore questions of their own using multiple forms of knowledge.

Dr. Hancock recently served as a member for Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Expert Panel on Adaptation and Resilience Results and the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Prioritizing Climate Risks, and holds a doctorate in earth sciences from the University of Waterloo.