Thirty elementary and high school teachers from across Ontario donned hard hats, mucker boots and cap lamps for an underground tour of Xstrata’s Nickel Rim South Mine in August as part of a four-day Teacher’s Mining Tour organized by the Canadian Ecology Centre.
The mining tour, the first of its kind, complements a similar initiative of the Canadian Ecology Centre that introduces teachers to the forest industry.
The tour was an optional module tacked on to an environmental science additional qualification course at Nipissing University’s Schulich School of Education in North Bay. It was held August 9 to 13 at the Canadian Ecology Centre, an environmental science education and research facility situated within Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, 30 kilometres east of North Bay.
“Seeing is believing,” said Bill Steer, general manager of the centre. “If you’re going to explain anything about the mining industry as an environmentally responsible industry, as a safe industry and as one that offers a variety of high-paying career opportunities and, if you’re going to teach a related curriculum, first hand experience is probably the best way to do it.
“Don’t show them videos, don’t show them books. Take them out to experience it,” he said.
Aside from going underground at the Nickel Rim South Mine in Sudbury, the teachers toured mining supply manufacturers in North Bay and participated in workshops introducing them to mining related curriculum developed by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s Mining Matters program.
The cost of the four-day tour was covered by several sponsoring organizations, including the Sudbury and North Bay chapters of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) and the CIM’s Metal Mining Society.
“Canada is a country rich in natural resources and mining is part of our natural and cultural heritage,” said Roy Slack, president of Cementation Canada and a member of the CIM Northern Gateway chapter in North Bay. “The minerals-related industries play an integral part in our socio-economic landscape, so teachers and students will benefit from knowing more.”
The Canadian Ecology Centre plans to offer the Teacher’s Mining Tour on an annual basis.