For Lauren Roberts, our Chief Operating Officer, mining was always a natural fit.
Born and raised in Missoula, Montana, Lauren had a passion for rocks and exploring the outdoors. Mining was part of life growing up, and his family always had a connection with the industry.
He got his first taste in mining in high school working for his great uncle, a mining engineer, as a general labourer – digging ditches, putting in culverts, staking claims and sampling.
This experience led him to complete his BSc in Mining Engineering at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and become a Professional Engineer. He knew from an early age that this was the industry he wanted to work in.
“I didn’t come to this by accident,” Lauren said. “It was by design.”
Early on in Lauren’s career, he learned that leadership matters and so, too, does a Company’s culture.
In University, he worked for two mines only a hundred kilometres apart and learned that even though they were owned by the same company and geographically close, the two mines were worlds apart regarding their values and culture. The difference? Leadership.
“One of my biggest takeaways from my earlier days is how badly things go when leadership doesn’t support the work force. It impacts the operation negatively in a number of ways, including health and safety.”
This experience left an indelible lesson for Lauren. As Lauren built his career in the West, working in different roles at different mines, he maintained this steadfast commitment to safety and strong leadership.
“It’s a big part of why, first and foremost, safety is the priority for me, and culture and leadership very much play into this. A safe work environment, and a supportive culture that has strong leadership with vision, have to be in place for people to feel empowered to do their job to their full potential.”
Eventually, Lauren heard about a young upstart company called Kinross. In 2004, he joined the Company at Kettle River-Buckhorn as the Operations Manager. He worked on various projects, including environmental permitting and reclamation planning for the Buckhorn Mine.
“This was a formative part of my career, as I saw how focused you have to be to be successful in this part of the business. This was a multi-year process and we needed to bridge the gap with those who may be opposed to mining.”
After overseeing the launch of Buckhorn as General Manager, Lauren transferred to the larger open pit Fort Knox mine in Alaska. As General Manager at Fort Knox, he oversaw the addition of the arctic heap leach and saw the importance of developing a rich talent pool of employees.
He then expanded his role at Kinross, first becoming the Regional Vice-President of North America, then South America, and finally Senior Regional Vice-President of the Americas, the Company’s largest operating region. After a year in Corporate Development, Lauren became the COO.
Lauren knows Kinross’ global and diverse operations inside and out, and his experience in both open pit and underground mining has proven to be beneficial in his roles over the past 13 years.
“What is clear to me across all of our operations is that our people are a big part of what sets us apart. There is a collective drive to perform at a high level at all times, and always safely. I am looking forward to continuing to work with the incredible family at Kinross for many years to come.”
The off-duty Lauren enjoys hunting and fishing, and plans to (eventually) retire in Republic, Washington with his wife.
Sluicing for gold with his best friend in New Mexico during his university days in the late 1980s
Lauren digging out a plugged culvert in Stibnite, Idaho in the early 90s
Lauren working on a ventilation shaft in Republic, Washington
Working in his shop in Republic, Washington in the early 90s