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Workshop gives students real-life geology experiences

For the last three years, Roisin Kyne has filled her brain with geological theory in her classes at Lakehead University.

But thanks to her participation in the second annual PDAC Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop (S-IMEW), which took place in Sudbury May 3-17, she is starting to see the connection between theory and the reality of the mining industry.

“It exposes us to a lot of things that we don’t really get exposed to in the academic field. Of course, we’ve had a couple of field courses, but I don’t necessarily feel I apply everything I’ve learned,” said the young woman, who will be entering fourth year university in the fall.

“I’m learning tons of things I never learned before. I knew nothing about the Sudbury Basin. It’s super-interesting.”

Twenty-four upper-year geology students from universities across the country were chosen by their department heads to participate in the all-expenses-paid workshop. Next year’s workshop will take place again in Sudbury May 2-16, 2009.

It costs the PDAC more than $100,000 to host the workshop, although there is some help from industry sponsors.

Barrick Gold has acted as patron sponsor of the workshop both years, contributing $10,000, and sending a young geologist from one of its operations around the world to participate in the activities alongside the students.
“The tangible benefit for the students is seeing the rocks in the Greater Sudbury area,” said Teresa Barrett, PDAC student liaison.

“Because the students come from across Canada, they are learning from each other what kind of rocks are prominent in (their respective) provinces. They also learn about the importance of networking. We asked all the students to bring business cards because they’ll be meeting with potential employers.”

The workshop, organized by PDAC first vice-president Scott Jobin-Bevans, gave the students a variety of experiences over two weeks.

Among the activities planned was a lecture about the business side of geology, a geological tour of the Sudbury Basin, a slag pour at Vale Inco, a session on exploration grid mapping and tours of FNX Mining Company’s Sudbury operations.

Between May 11-14, the students went on a side trip to Val d’Or, Quebec, where they were taken underground at Agnico Eagle’s Laronde and Goldex mines.

The purpose of the workshop is to attract students to work in hard-rock geology, because there’s a shortage of geoscientists in the mining industry, said Barrett.

On May 6, Laurentian University adjunct professor Ed Pattison led the students on a geological tour of the Sudbury Basin.

“What we’re showing students is the regional setting of the Sudbury igneous complex and its related copper-nickel-PGE ore deposits,” he said.

“We started with showing them some of the footwall rocks on either side of the Basin. We’ve shown them some of the breccias that affect the Sudbury area as a result of the meteorite impact. We’ve also shown them some of the host rocks.”

The tour also brought the students to the site of the O’Donnell Roast Yards near Lively, where sulphur was burned off ore mined in the region in the early 1900s.

“The students seem to be quite an active group. They’re not only interested, but having fun while they’re doing it.”

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