International Minerals Innovation Institute


About IMII

IMII is a non-profit organization jointly funded by industry and government and is committed to developing and implementing innovative education, training, research and development partnerships for supporting a world-class minerals industry.

IMII was established in 2012 to support and sustain the Saskatchewan minerals industry for the long-term benefit of Saskatchewan.  In its first ten years, IMII has sponsored more than 50 industry driven projects, valued at more than $24 million, and in doing so has leveraged more than $11 million in project funding from outside of its mineral industry and government members.

IMII’s unique collaboration model facilitates a research focus to meet the industry needs, present and future, for many areas including safety and environment.  This collaboration also helps to define the current and future needs in the education and training programming, including a focus on indigenous peoples and women in mining.  One distinctive way IMII is engaging in this matter is through the development of an innovation ecosystem for Saskatchewan’s minerals industry.  IMII defines an innovation ecosystem as a model of the economic dynamics formed between actors or entities whose functional goal is to enable technology development and innovation.  In this paper, IMII sets out a comprehensive view of the minerals industry’s innovation ecosystem to better link its components together and increase opportunities for collaboration on advancing innovations that matter to mining.

Strategic Pillars

IMII will continue to seek outputs and outcomes that positively impact Saskatchewan’s minerals industry and contribute to economic growth in the Province in the following four pillars:

  • Innovation Steward:  Drive the Innovation Value Chain and Transform Innovative Ideas into Practice
  • Research, Development & Demonstration and Education & Training:  Enable Sustainable Innovation
  • Qualified & Representative Workforce:  Operationalize Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Operate & Govern IMII Consistently:  Maintain Robust and Transparent Processes to Deliver Good Performance

Board of Directors Representation

A Board of Directors made up of representatives of 6 to 20 member organizations oversees IMII.  Industry representatives must always be in the majority.  Board members are selected in the following ways:

  • One representative from each Category A Minerals Companies 
  • One representative elected from Category B Minerals Company group 
  • One representative elected from the Category C Minerals Company group 
  • One representative elected from the Solutions Providers group 
  • Two representatives designated by the Government of Saskatchewan 
  • One representative designated by the University of Saskatchewan
  • One representative designated by the University of Regina
  • One representative designated by Saskatchewan Polytechnic
  • One representative elected from the Institutions/Capacity Builders group 
  • One representative elected from the Risk Capital Providers group
  • An ex-officio representative from the Saskatchewan Mining Association to serve as a non-voting member

Board of Directors

Tanya Smith, BHP

Tanya Smith is Head of Planning & Technical for Potash at BHP, where her focus is driving technical excellence and innovation in geosciences, resource engineering and extraction, land and mineral tenement management, and strategic business planning. Tanya has 25 years of experience in the mining industry in Canada, including technical leadership roles in both operations and corporate environments, mine planning, project management, and technical stewardship.

Tanya is a registered Professional Engineer and holds a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering from Queen’s University, a Master of Science from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois.

Mike Tomtene, Cameco Corporation
Murray Schultz, Mosaic

Murray Schultz is the Global leader of Mosaic’s Applied Process Technology Team and holds a B.Sc. Chemistry with distinction from Briar Cliffe University, Iowa.  Murray has over 20 years of mining experience where he has spent time in all of Mosaic’s operations at various levels inventing new process technologies and driving successful implementation through tactical change management leadership.  Murray also sits on the Board of the Professional Association of Chemists in Saskatchewan and spends time as a technical mentor for the University of Saskatchewan Engineering Graduate program, the Saskatchewan Mining Association Educational Program.  Murray’s passion is witnessing team’s coming together to develop success by creating a culture of curiosity that relentlessly solves challenging industry problems. 

Craig Funk, Nutrien

Craig Funk, P.Eng, P.Geo is the Director of GeoServices & Land at Nutrien.  Craig studied at the University of Saskatchewan where he earned a B. Sc. in Engineering Geophysics and an M. Sc. in Geophysics.  Craig has worked in hard- and soft-rock mining, geotechnical consulting, and the oil and gas services industry in a variety of locations, including South Africa, United States, and Canada. Craig joined PotashCorp in 2008 as Chief Geophysicist and has progressed into the current role at Nutrien where he oversees exploration, mineral and surface lands, mineral properties reporting, and geoscience applications and special projects. 

Craig is passionate about research and innovation within the extraction industries. Data management systems he developed at Halliburton for remote monitoring of hydro-fracture growth have been used on 1,000’s of successful hydrocarbon projects around the world. He has initiated or contributed to various research projects at PotashCorp, Nutrien and the Saskatchewan mining community in safety, geology, geophysics, rock mechanics, mechanical engineering, mineral processing and data sciences. 

Craig and his wife grew up in Saskatchewan and they have 3 daughters, with only one still at home. He enjoys carpentry, and spends evening and weekends building innovative things from wood, including wooden bikes.

Kevin Chung, Innovation Saskatchewan

Kevin Chung is the Director of Innovation Investments and Programs at Innovation Saskatchewan, a provincial government agency responsible for supporting R&D and growing the technology sector. At the agency, Kevin is responsible for various programs and investments that promote industry-driven R&D, including the Saskatchewan Advantage Innovation Fund, the Agtech Growth Fund, and the government’s $15 million investment in an agtech venture capital fund. Kevin works closely with companies and stakeholders in the local innovation ecosystem, developing programs and policies that support the growth of Saskatchewan’s technology and research sectors. Kevin holds a B.A. Honors in Political Science with a minor in Entrepreneurship.

David Boehm, Advanced Education

David Boehm is the Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services and Accountability with the Ministry of Advanced Education.  Prior to joining the Ministry, he was part of the administration team at the University of Regina.  Earlier in his career he work in the agri-food industry with roles in both the private and public sectors. 

His education includes a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Regina.  Designations include Charter Professional Accountant and Canadian Risk Management. 

He also serves on the board of the Saskatchewan Risk and Insurance Management Society. 

David grew up near Allan, SK and now resides in Regina with his wife and two sons.

Richard Elkington, Fission Uranium Corp.
Rashid Bashir, Hatley Engineering and Applied Technologies Inc.

Rashid Bashir is the President of Hatley Engineering and Applied Technologies Inc. and an Associate Professor of Geotechnical/Geoenvironmental engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering at Lassonde School of Engineering, York University. He co-founded Hatley Engineering in the year 2020. Hatley Engineering is a project development company based out of the Innovation Place Research Park in the City of Saskatoon. 

Rashid has been active in the mining business for more than 15 years. Rashid worked as the Corporate Mine Hydrogeologist for Cameco Corporation in Saskatoon, SK, engaged in dewatering of the flooded Cigar Lake Mine and Shaft No. 2. He was accountable technical support to Cameco’s corporate development group to assess acquisitions around the globe. He has also testified in front of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission as a subject matter expert in mine hydrogeology. Rashid worked as a Senior Geotechnical Engineer for Golder in their Saskatoon office as a member of the Unsaturated Soils Group and has designed a number of soil covers for tailings management facilities on four different continents. Rashid was a section leader and one of the lead authors for the initial screening reports for two sites in Northern Saskatchewan, as part of site selection for Canada’s Deep Geological Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel. 

Rashid has more than 20 years of experience in areas of Unsaturated Soils Mechanics, Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Mine & Contaminant Hydrogeology and Computational Mechanics. He is also a qualified Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) auditor and an incident investigator. Rashid is a registered professional engineer in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario. 

Rashid holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from University of Engineering and Technology, Taxila Pakistan and a Master of Science degree in Geotechnical Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.  He earned his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario with specialization in contaminant hydrogeology and computational mechanics.  His current research focusses on effect of climate change on geotechnical and geo-environmental designs with focus on Mining Industry. His research is funded by grants from Nuclear Waste Management Origination (NWMO), Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada. Rashid is also author/co-author of more than 18 refereed journals and more than 34 conference papers in the areas of Contaminant Hydrogeology, Soil Science, Mining Hydrogeology, Unsaturated Flow, Contaminant Transport, Geotechnical, and Reliability Engineering.

Justin Lasnier, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies

Justin Lasnier is an accomplished professional with a diverse background spanning higher education, oil and gas, mining, and construction. A proud member of Moosomin First Nation, he possesses a profound understanding of Indigenous knowledge. Currently serving as the Associate Dean of Trades & Industrial at the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), Justin is a dedicated leader with extensive experience in roles within post-secondary education. Throughout his career, Justin has demonstrated exceptional leadership, contributing to the health and safety field for more than six years. His educational background includes a master’s degree in occupational health and safety, a bachelor’s degree in political science, and a journeyperson certificate as a scaffolder. Justin’s commitment to excellence, coupled with his unique blend of education and experience, positions him as a valuable asset in his current role, where he continues to make significant contributions to the success of SIIT and the broader community.

Larry Rosia, Saskatchewan Polytechnic

As president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Dr. Larry Rosia leads the province’s primary provider of technical education and skills training.  Saskatchewan Polytechnic serves 26,000 distinct students and offers programs that touch every sector of the economy. 

Dr. Rosia is responsible for leading the development of Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s vision and for providing strategic direction to the organization, enabling it to sustain its momentum and capitalize on new opportunities.  His priorities include ensuring that students have access to a high-quality, innovative post-secondary education, that employers have access to a highly skilled and qualified workforce that contributes to Saskatchewan’s prosperity, and that Saskatchewan Polytechnic nurtures a positive and vibrant workplace environment. 

Before joining Saskatchewan Polytechnic in July 2012, Dr. Rosia was dean of the School of Construction at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, Alberta, a position he held since 1999.  His career in education spans more than 35 years, as an instructor, program chair, revenue generating coordinator, marketing manager and dean.  He has more than 20 years of leadership experience in educational administration and has served in advisory roles to community, provincial and municipal committees.  He has also been a member of the boards of several regional, national and international organizations.  Currently he serves as a board member for the International Mineral Innovation Institute (IMII), Polytechnics Canada, the Saskatchewan Labour Market Task Force, and is a member of the University of Regina Senate. 

Dr. Rosia is an alumnus of SAIT Polytechnic and a lifelong learner.  He has a background in telecommunications engineering, adult education and educational policy and administration, and in 2006 completed his PhD in academic leadership at the University of Calgary.  He attended the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard University.  Notable recognition includes the SAIT Board of Governor Award for Business and Industry Partnerships, the Conference Board of Canada Award for Business and Industry Partnerships, and the Chair Academy International Exemplary Leadership Award for his service to education and to Alberta. 

Dr. Rosia is an adjunct professor at Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia, and a well-respected ambassador for the post-secondary community.  He authored a book titled “The Successful College President.”

Christopher Yost, University of Regina

Dr. Yost completed a BSc in Microbiology with a CO-OP distinction from the University of Victoria in 1992 and received a PhD in Microbial Genetics from the University of Calgary in 1998. 

Prior to coming to the University of Regina in 2003, Dr. Yost was a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Lacombe Research Centre and later worked internationally as a research associate at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. 

Dr. Yost’s research program uses genomic technologies to study agriculturally relevant interactions between microbes and plants. He also has broader research interests focusing on the interface between environmental microbiology and public health, including the environmental dimension of antibiotic resistance. Dr. Yost held a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Microbial Ecology and Food Safety from 2007 to 2017 as part of his research program, and he continues to be funded through a variety of granting agencies. He is currently the co-Director of the Institute for Microbial Systems and Society, where he supervisors a diverse team of undergraduate, and graduate student researchers. 

Dr. Yost is a full professor within the Biology Department at the University of Regina and he has had a long term commitment to serving the University in supporting its research enterprise. Dr. Yost was the chair of the Council Committee on Academic Mission and the chair of the Council Committee on Research. He also has national experience in research policy work, and was a member of NSERC’s Committee on Discovery Research while serving as a Group Chair for NSERC’s Discovery Grant program.

Terry Fonstad, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Terry Fonstad is Associate Vice-President Research (Ethics and Infrastructure) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).  Dr. Fonstad has also recently stepped into the role as Interim Executive Director of the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) at the University of Saskatchewan until the end of June 2023. 

Dr. Fonstad is a leader in environmental research for animal agriculture.  His work is the basis for much of the regulations and policies related to siting and permitting of intensive livestock operations in the prairie regions.  Dr. Fonstad’s academic home is the Department of Civil, Geological and Environmental Engineering. 

Dr. Fonstad’s research started with site selection for development of intensive livestock operations and includes design and construction of compacted clay liners and reactive transport of nitrogen rich solutions.  He was asked to expand his research into mass mortalities management when BSE was discovered in Canada.  This led to the novel use of gene sequencing of DNA extracted from soil cores to evaluate the risk of burial as a mass mortality management strategy.  Gene sequencing is also used in his research to maximize biogas production in relation to agricultural waste utilization.  Dr. Fonstad leads a Pan-Canadian team with the goal of increased biosecurity in the food industry through reduction of pathogen transfer in the swine transport sector.  Additionally, he leads a team completing environmental research for the cattle industry at the USask Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence. 

Dr. Fonstad is a registered professional engineer and professional agrologist.  He is a Fellow of Engineers Canada and honorary Fellow of Geosciences Canada.  He has served two terms on the council of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan as well as one term on the executive and served as President in 2019-20.  He was awarded the Public Service Award from the RM of Blucher No 343 for his service on municipal council from 2002-2017.

Saskatchewan Mining Association
Steve McLellan, IMII Board Chair

Steve McLellan had a long and successful career working in the tourism and chamber of commerce worlds, culminating with his 15 years as CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. His work took his across the country many times, plus trips to China, Mongolia and Bangladesh, throughout the USA and most importantly all across Saskatchewan.   

He is a proud recipient of three Canadian medals and an Honorary Degree from his alma mater, Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Throughout his working life he has been a volunteer for many organizations and served as Chair in several of these local and national organizations. 

He has two grown children and lives in Regina with his wife Heather who are both avid lovers of the outdoors.   


Executive Director

Al Shpyth, MES, MELP

Al Shpyth joined the IMII in December 2015 and became executive director on January 1, 2016. Al brings more than 25 years of consulting, government and industry experience related to mining and the minerals sector to the IMII. A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan (in 1986), he obtained his masters degrees in environmental studies from York University (in 1991) and in environmental law and policy from the Vermont Law School, where he graduated with highest honours, in 2014. 

As a consultant, Al worked on environmental assessments and feasibility studies for mining projects in Saskatchewan (potash), British Columbia (copper) and Manitoba (silica sand). While with the Government of Saskatchewan, Al was the lead author of the government’s Position Paper on Proposed Uranium Mining Developments in Northern Saskatchewan in the mid-1990s, and helped to set the public policy framework for approvals of the McArthur River, Cigar Lake and McClean Lake projects. He also conceived of and created the Northern Mines Monitoring Secretariat and Environmental Quality Committees to facilitate community involvement in the regulation of the uranium mining industry in northern Saskatchewan. In industry, Al held a number of progressively more responsible positions within Uranerz Exploration and Mining Ltd. and Cameco Corporation in areas as diverse as public affairs, human resources, special projects (ISO 14001), policy and systems development, government relations, information systems & technology, and business technology services. His work for Cameco was both national and international in scope, having been seconded to the Canadian Nuclear Association in Ottawa as director, environmental and regulatory affairs, and represented the company as their first managing director in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan. 

In Saskatchewan, Al served several years as the chair of the Uranium Section of the Saskatchewan Mining Association, and on the board of directors of the Saskatoon Co-op. He also served as a volunteer board member. President and Past President of the Saskatchewan Environment Industry and Managers Association.

Manager, Finance & Operations

Marylou Langridge

Marylou Langridge holds a BAC from the University of Saskatchewan and brings more than 25 years experience in administration and accounting for the non-profit, charity and manufacturing industries.  Throughout the years, she has had the opportunity to develop, implement and present programs on missing children as well as coordinate and implement fund raising events and volunteer recruitment and training.