Spotlight on Our Team – Danny Tolmer

Meet Danny Tolmer, our North American Regional Manager and Principal Consultant, who has an impressive track record of more than 19 years of experience in mine operations and consulting. Specializing in open pit and underground mine optimization, he excels in project management. Danny is a Qualified Person for open pit mining for NI43-101 and SK1300 Technical Reporting, covering most commodities including: Diamonds, Coal met/thermal, Gold, Copper, Nickle, Uranium, Industrial Minerals (Limestone, Phosphate, Potash, Silica, Quartzite, Frac sand), Lithium, Graphite. Danny’s expertise drives excellence in mining engineering and consulting across North America.

In a recent conversation, we explored Danny’s experiences and his dedication to his field and beyond.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about your background and where you grew up?

I’m a first generation Canadian, with Italian heritage. I grew up in Vancouver, BC.

Q: What are some significant events or experiences that have shaped who you are today?

I grew up immersed in construction, shadowing my architect father who designed everything from homes to industrial facilities. Early on, I learned surveying and the art of integrating buildings into their landscapes. My hands-on experience included cleaning construction sites, woodwork finishing, and painting. My grandfather, a stone mason and former coal miner, instilled in me a deep appreciation for trades.

Academically, I excelled in the sciences and pursued Applied Mathematics at Simon Fraser University. While nearing completion of that degree with minors in Geology and Earth Sciences, a friend studying Mining and Mineral Process at the University of British Columbia (UBC) suggested I consider an Engineering degree. I attended a UBC open house, where professors like Meech, Pakalnis, and others ignited my passion for mining engineering.

After the first year in Mining Engineering, I secured a student intern position at a strip-mining operation with Fording Coal (now Teck). Despite low coal prices, this experience exposed me to surveying, equipment operation, and cost-reduction efforts. Back at UBC, I became an Industry Representative, connecting with influential figures like Sandy Liard and George Poling, further deepening my commitment to the field.

Later, I served as vice president and president of the Mining Engineering department at UBC. During my university years, I interned at North American Palladium (now Impala) Lac des Iles mine, gaining experience in mineral processing. Despite these opportunities, my heart remained in the mountains, where I enjoyed outdoor activities.

Upon graduation, I joined Fording River, one of North America’s largest open-pit metallurgical coal mines, focusing on long-range mine planning. This role exposed me to directional mining, slope stability, and waste dump design. Rotations included short-range planning, field supervision, drill and blast engineering, and coal quality assessment.

Later, I worked at Highland Valley Copper as the drill and blast engineer/foreman. Subsequently, I joined Snowden Consulting (now Snowden Optiro), then Golder Associates Ltd. (now WSP), where I engaged in diverse mining projects, becoming a Qualified Person for large copper mines globally.

Last year, I embraced the challenge of re-establishing the Vancouver office of Snowden Optiro. It’s been a rewarding journey, reconnecting with familiar faces and welcoming new team members while continuing my dedication to the mining industry.

Q: What is your educational background and the degrees or certifications you have obtained?

BASc, Underground Mine Rescue, Open Pit Mine Rescue, BC Blaster Certificate

Q: How did you choose your career path and what motivated you to pursue it?

I was always open to try things, at a young age I would’ve thought I’d end up in construction but keeping an open mind I found mining (one of the largest forms of construction industry), and never looked back!

Q: Can you highlight any notable milestones or achievements in your professional life?

Marrying my wife about 13 years ago, and having 2 beautiful kids who can tell you all about igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks!

Q: What are your hobbies, interests, or creative outlets outside of work?

I have many hobbies, but I try to spend as much time with my kids when I’m not working – so now my hobbies have narrowed to bringing them to their many extracurricular activities (swimming, skating, soccer, dance, baseball, etc.).  I at least still try to go fishing and get to my woodworking shop when I can though.

Q: Is there a particular cause or mission that you feel strongly about?

I am an advocate for the mining industry and the fact that if it cannot be grown, it has to be mined. I see too many kids today not understanding how things are made and where the components come from. I still guest lecture occasionally at UBC and at various schools (primary and secondary) to give a taste of what the mining industry is about.

Q: Who are the individuals that have greatly influenced or inspired you?

Both my grandfather and my dad where my greatest inspirations.

Q: Are there any books, movies, or works of art that have had a profound impact on you?

I’ve always like poetry and one of my favourites is Robert Frost’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”.

Q: Have you had mentors or role models guide you along your journey?

There have been many, I’ve named a few above, but others include David Sprott, Ross Hammett, Al Chance, and Ted Minnes from Golder Associates (now mostly retired), Bob McCarthy from Snowden (now at SRK).

Q: What are some of the major challenges you’ve faced in your career?

I was in a serious motorcycle accident soon after joining Golder Associates.

Q: How did you overcome those challenges?

The support of my wife and colleagues at work allowed me to physically heal and get back to work.

Q: What are your current goals and aspirations, professionally?

I am looking to build my team in North America, collaborate more with our Datamine family, and build up our clientele and projects.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the future?

Hopefully always working in some capacity in the mining industry.

Q: Are there any specific projects or initiatives you’re excited about pursuing?

Expand on Copper projects. Assist with more Lithium, Graphite, and other battery needs. Expand on assisting clients with assessing the alternatives to a conventional diesel (truck shovel) operation.

But to be frank, I’m happy to assist anyone who needs help with mine planning, whether it is a limestone quarry looking to expand, a small exploration company looking to see if their property is worth investing further into, or a major mining corporation looking to publicly release their next disclosure.

We extend our sincere gratitude to Danny Tolmer for sharing his experiences and thoughts. Wishing him continued success as the Regional Manager – North America at Snowden Optiro.

If you’d like to connect with Danny, you can message him here.

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