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Sudbury Mining Solutions

Commentary

More than just headframes

If David Robinson’s crystal ball, below, is accurate in predicting several more decades of voracious demand for metals, it won’t just be mining suppliers who stand to benefit. A world hungry for base and precious metals will also need geologists, mining engineers, and skilled tradesmen. The ore will come out of the ground, but the knowledge to find and extract it will come out of classrooms.

Harold Gibson, director of the Mineral Exploration Research Centre and a professor at Laurentian University’s Department of Earth Sciences, must have gazed into the same crystal ball that David Robinson writes about.

Aware of the dire shortage of geoscientists and anxious to respond to the need with some radical thinking, Gibson is proposing the formalization and further development of a collaborative curriculum that would expose graduate geoscience students in Ontario to a critical mass of educators who are currently spread out among a half dozen universities. Read related story

Rather than limit students to the confines of a single institution and a department with a sprinkling of faculty and fellow learners, the idea is to take down the walls and allow them to participate in modular courses at several participating universities.

The idea isn’t new. Laurentian University’s Earth Sciences Department has been running modular courses since the late ’90s, the University of Ottawa is on board and some funding has been secured to offset travel and accommodation costs. However, more needs to be done to formalize, expand and promote the program. An Ontario-wide graduate geoscience program with a star-studded faculty will be better able to attract graduate students and supply the mining industry with the expertise that will be necessary to satisfy the world’s appetite for mineral resources.

It’s no accident that Laurentian University is spearheading this initiative. Located in Sudbury, in the heart of one of the largest mining camps in the world, Laurentian has an affinity to mining and geology, yet a formalized and properly funded collaborative graduate curriculum would be a win-win proposition for every participating institution, for Ontario, for Canada and for a world increasingly in need of our expertise.

Sudbury’s role as a centre of geoscience and mining-related education has also been recognized by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, which has chosen the city to host its annual Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop (read related story), and by the University of Toronto’s mining engineering department, which sends its students to Sudbury for mine rescue training. Read related story

In today’s knowledge-based economy, the global appetite for mineral resources spawns a lot more than headframes.

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