Educating Teachers about Modern Mining Methods
Educating Teachers about Modern Mining Methods
Twenty-three southern Ontario teachers donned hard hats, mucker boots and cap lamps this August for an underground tour of Goldcorp’s Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM) Dome mine, in an effort to unearth the real story behind mining. Their visit was part of the Teachers' Mining Tour, an educator professional development program hosted by the Canadian Ecology Centre.
This is the third year Goldcorp’s PGM has participated in the Teachers’ Mining Tour. “We wanted to give teachers the full picture of the vital role mining plays in modern life, the extent to which it can be sustainable, the skills it requires and opportunities available to students who are considering their career options,” stated Marc Lauzier, Vice President of Operational Support for Canada & U.S. Region at Goldcorp, and Chair of the Ontario Mining Association. “There’s a shortage of skilled professionals and tradespeople in the mining industry and a good portion of our current workforce is facing retirement. Teachers are the people who are going to engage and inspire young people about future career choices.”
As part of an intensive five-day tour of the Timmins area, participating elementary and secondary teachers got an up close and personal look at the mining industry which included workshops, sites visits to active mines including PGM and reclaimed sites.
The educators arrived at PGM at 7:30 a.m. for a safety briefing before being outfitted with safety gear and descending underground for a two-hour mine tour. The goal was for the tour to be as enriching and engaging as possible, giving the teachers a real sense of what it’s like to work underground and the environment the miners themselves work in.
Returning to the surface, PGM staff walked the teachers through the various careers available in mining, covering current and future workforce demands, career options, educational requirements, wages, Human Resources challenges, and how educators and industry can work together to groom the skilled workers of the future.
“The HR presentation is always a real eye opener for teachers, because most people aren’t necessarily aware of the diversity of career options available in the mining industry,” commented Lauzier.
For lunch, the tour group was invited to meet with local First Nations’ representatives and enjoy a traditional meal of fresh pickerel, moose and bannock at the mine’s indigenous site. “Nurturing and creating meaningful partnerships with First Nations communities is an integral part of our operation, which is why it’s important to involve community members in this program” said Lauzier. Last year, PGM signed a Resource Development Agreement with four First Nation communities in the Timmins area, establishing a framework for continued consultation on operations in the region and defining long-term benefits for the four communities.
Fittingly, the tour concluded with a visit to the Coniaurum and Hollinger Tailings Management Area reclamation sites, two legacy sites restored by Goldcorp. Teachers were shown before and after pictures of the reclamation and walked through the process of restoring the site to its natural state. First Nations involvement and insight is particularly important during the reclamation phase of the mining cycle given their intimate knowledge of the local environment, flora and fauna.
“The full mining cycle involves much more than exploration, extraction and milling,” stated Lauzier. “Many people don’t understand that returning the land to its natural state after mining is completed, in consultation with First Nations, is an important part of the mining process. We wanted the teachers to have a good understanding of how environmentally sustainable this industry really is.”
After the tour, PGM staff routinely receive letters and emails of appreciation from teachers, many who request additional information they can use in the classroom. One educator from Toronto wrote: “I was absolutely blown away by your commitment to safety, to your community, to the environment, and to the local First Nations. Congratulations on the fantastic work your company is doing towards land reclamation.”
“The teachers’ program is an important partnership initiative for Goldcorp,” agreed Lauzier. “Teachers become very engaged in mining during the tour. They take what they’ve learned back to the classroom and share that information with their students, who hopefully look at mining in a whole new light. In the long term, stronger ties to teachers will help our company grow sustainably by attracting new people to our industry.”
Today, October 5th, is UNESCO World Teachers Day. Did you have a teacher early in your education that has helped shape your career today? Share your stories with us.