Teachers Learn About Mining

Posted on Wednesday September 13, 2017
Atlas Copco tour

The Ontario Mining Association (OMA) continues to collaborate with Mining Matters and the Canadian Ecology Centre to help Ontario educators gain a better perspective on the mineral industry through its support of Teacher Mining Tours (TMT). Since its inception in 2010, this professional development program has engaged hundreds of teachers, allowing them to connect newly-acquired knowledge to professional practice. With content of the tours continually revised in response to the feedback of participants, they have gained in popularity, leading to an expansion of the program. 

This summer, three tours were offered - each with a specific focus, and the program welcomed an expanded range of participants, including formal and informal educators, as well as representatives from Indigenous communities responsible for mineral resources development advisement. The suggestion to include the latter came from OMA's Indigenous Relations Committee. Thirty three individuals from across Ontario and Quebec participated in the 2017 tours, including - for the first time - Lands and Resources representatives from Anishinabek Nation and Long Lake. 

According to one participant, the TMT "was an unforgettable experience for me, who had never been farther north than Bracebridge. Participating in the tour has transformed my way of thinking about the mining industry, and I now realize how important and relevant it is to the Canadian economy, and indeed to our lives."

Others also found the experience to be inspiring, thanking the instructors "for facilitating all those fun activities and sharing ideas with us that we can use in the classroom." Highlights of the 2017 tour program include:

The Life in a Mining Camp Tour (August 8-11)
The objective of this tour was to provide participants with a peek into the life of an employee at North American Palladium's Lac des Iles Mine, and a snapshot of the mineral exploration and mining industry in northwestern Ontario. The context was set with an opening presentation by John Mason of the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission(CEDC) that described the current state of exploration and mining in the region. Participants enjoyed two nights of accommodation and a comprehensive site tour, including the underground and surface operation, plus mill at Lac des Iles mine, a site visit and tour of the Amethyst Mine Panorama, and field tours of local geological sites of interest, including Ouimet Canyon, Sleeping Giant and Kakabeka Falls Provincial Parks. The program concluded with a tour of and the ALS Environmental Laboratory, where participants were provided with a comprehensive overview of the wide array tests and analysis undertaken in the minerals sector during exploration, operation, and closure.

Mineral Resource and Mining Foundations Tour (August 13-17) 
This tour focused on providing a fundamental understanding of Earth science and mineral resources. The tour opened with a "Mining 101" presentation, delivered by George Flumerfelt, the CEO of J.S. Redpath Ltd., who introduced Earth science, minerals, ore and the mining cycle. The program included site visits to mineral exploration and mining services suppliers, including Kafka GraniteAtlas CopcoMetso Minerals and J.S. Redpath Ltd. Among other topics, participants learned about metamorphic processes, image analysis technology, smart device microscope petrography and environment activities in mining. They also enjoyed a geologically-themed canoe trip to talon Cutes, on the Mattawa River. 

The Mine Life Cycle Tour (August 20-24)
This tour focused on all phases of the mineral resource development cycle, with an emphasis on the Sudbury mining camp. It opened with a "Mining 101" presentation, delivered by Lesley Hymers of Mining Matters. Lectures by Tobias Roth, Geoscience Technologist and Instructor of the Harquail School of Earth Sciences, and  Dr. Peter Beckett, also of Laurentian University, provided further insights. Representatives of Knights Piesoldexplained the Environmental Assessment process for mine applications, and led an experiential learning session that included environmental monitoring and data collection in the field. Lectures by In addition to a private tour of Sudbury's Dynamic Earth and a presentation describing Science North and Dynamic Earth's Science Education Centre, participants got the unique opportunity to see Glencore's Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operation, including the Nickel Rim South Mine, the Onaping area mines' water and tailings management system and mill. The tour concluded with a site visit to the Canadian Ecology Centre by Roy Slack, President of Cementation Canada, who discussed the Ring of Fire, the development of the Nickel Rim South Mine and the Chilean Mine Rescue.

"We are grateful to all of our members and partners who contribute both resources and their time to this valuable program," said Chris Hodgson, President of the OMA, adding that, "We appreciate the skill and enthusiasm of Mining Matters and the Canadian Ecology Centre staff, who implement the tours and inspire the participants with their knowledge and passion for mining." 

The 2018 TMT dates are being finalized and will be announced in the near future.