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Sudbury Mining Solutions

Skills & Knowledge

Contact North offers online learning at Detour Lake

February 25, 2015
by Heather Campbell
In: Skills & Knowledge

Provides employees and contractors with an opportunity keep busy and upgrade their skills

Stacey Cress, employee development coordinator with Detour Gold, at the mine’s new online learning centre.

Stacey Cress, employee development coordinator with Detour Gold, at the mine’s new online learning centre.

A partnership between Detour Gold and Contact North, Ontario’s distance education and training network, offers employees online learning opportunities while working and living at the remote mine site.

An open house was held this past November at the Detour Gold camp to provide management and employees with information about online and distance education available both on site and back in their home community.

Stacey Cress, employee development co-ordinator for Detour Gold, said providing opportunities for staff to become aware of education and training is a win-win for everyone. It is also a way for managers to support employees with professional development needs while

on the job. Courses on software applications and post-secondary programs are all available online. Detour Lake Mine is located 185 kilometres northeast of Cochrane. Employees and contractors are bused in from Cochrane for their one, two or three week rotations. Staff and contractors come from all over Ontario. Twenty-five per cent of employees are members of the Aboriginal partner communities – the Moose Cree, Wahgoshig and Taykwa Tagamou First Nations.

Detour Gold is planning for a mine life of over 20 years and expects to produce an average of 660,000 ounces of gold annually.

A newly built resident camp offers Detour Gold’s 700 employees hotel-like accommodations with housekeeping services, catering and gym facilities. Many mining companies with operations in remote areas and 24/7 operations strive to provide a comfortable living environment to discourage high turnover.

Working in a remote mining camp can also leave workers with time on their hands, so offering online learning with support from Contact North provides employees and contractors with an opportunity to keep busy and upgrade their skills.


Contact North partners with Ontario’s 24 public colleges, 22 universities, and more than 250 public literacy and essential skills and training providers. With Contact North, they can access over 18,000 courses and 1,000 programs. The not-for-profit organization has been continuously funded by the Government of Ontario since 1986 to provide local access to education and training opportunities in small, rural, remote, Aboriginal and Francophone communities.

Harmony Alisappi, a mine maintenance clerk for Detour Gold, was encouraged when her supervisor announced at their morning toolbox meeting that Contact North was holding an open house.

“I always thought about taking a course to get a better position,” said Alisappi. “It’s great that Detour Gold is taking the initiative for us to explore opportunities for learning.”

Tina Reed, director of partnerships with Contact North, was onsite for the open house answering questions and providing information on available programs and courses.

“We are looking forward to supporting employees who will take this unique opportunity to pursue their educational goals while living at the resident camp,” she said. “It is also a way for managers to support employees who need to access training to do their jobs or prepare for a job promotion.”

Reed was able to search the Contact North database to identify a number of courses and programs for Alisappi.

Some courses are available at no cost. Others are fee-based, but funding sources are sometimes available to help cover tuition.

The flexibility to participate in classes at the mine site as well as at home is what makes this partnership so attractive.

There are many courses and programs available that can be taken online with instructors available by email. Employees have the flexibility of studying and completing assignments on computer workstations in the online learning centre or in their own wifi-equipped rooms.

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