Lectures, field trips and networking events over the two-week period provide the students with opportunities to learn and interact with people in the industry. Topics covered include geological mapping, geophysics and geochemistry, health and safety, sustainability and the public markets.
Rory Krocker, a graduate of the University of Manitoba, credits his participation in the first Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop in 2007 for steering him toward a career in the mineral exploration industry.
“The workshop opened up a lot of doors for me. It’s the reason I am where I am right now,” said Krocker, a geologist at Treasury Metals’ Goliath Gold Project near Dryden in northwestern Ontario.
“It was probably the single most influential, exciting, educational and overall fun two-week experience of my undergrad career. The networking opportunities presented throughout the trip were second to none and I developed contacts and friendships that will last a lifetime.
“I met Scott Jobin-Bevans (president of Treasury Metals and Caracle Creek International Consulting) at the workshop and we hit it off. He hired me when I graduated, so the workshop is directly related to what I’m doing right now.”
In the three and a half years that Krocker has been in the industry, his work has taken him to the Kootenay Mountains of British Colombia, Beartooth Island in northern Saskatchewan and the Sudbury Basin.
Hunt for treasure
The mineral exploration industry appeals to Krocker “because you get to hunt for treasure” and work outside in the great outdoors.
Karen Grey, a graduate of the University of New Brunswick (UNB), had a similar experience. Grey had enrolled in the Earth Sciences program at UNB because of a general interest in Earth Sciences, not because of an interest in the mining industry.
“In the very beginning, I didn’t know what was out there,” said Grey “I knew that volcanoes and earthquakes were pretty fascinating, but as the years went by, I realized that jobs in those kinds of fields aren’t very common, so I had to choose between mineral exploration and oil and gas.”
After participating in the Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop held in Sudbury in 2009, the decision was easy. Grey landed a job with ACA Howe, a geological consulting company with offices in Toronto and London and is currently waiting for a go-ahead to join an ACA Howe team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The workshop gave her a better understanding of the options open to her, “made us feel important and valuable,” and “gave us confidence,” she said.
“I still keep in touch with some of the people who organized it. That’s how I got my job.”
The Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop has been a great success, said Jobin-Bevans, who is also chair of the PDAC’s human resources committee.
“We’ve just started tracking our alumni this year and the majority of them have jobs in the industry.”
The cost of the workshop is totally funded by the PDAC, sponsors and in-kind contributions. Barrick Gold has served as patron sponsor since the inception of the program, entitling the company to select one junior geologist from its international exploration sites to participate in the workshop every year. To date, Barrick geologists have come from Tanzania, Papua New Guinea and Chile.
The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry sponsors a mapping day and a tour of the Ontario Geoscience Laboratory in Sudbury, QuadraFNX organizes underground tours of its mines and Xstrata Nickel tours students through its smelter. Vale also pitches in by sponsoring guest speakers.
The workshop includes a four-day field trip to Val d’Or and Rouyn-Noranda, underground tours of two Agnico-Eagle mines and trips to Cobalt and Timmins.
Universities across the country appear to be graduating more students from geoscience programs, but there still seems to be a shortage of geologists, said Jobin-Bevans.
“I know in my own experience with Treasury Metals and Caracle Creek, we’re having a hard time finding good people.”
The workshop is one of several PDAC initiatives to attract geoscience students to the mineral exploration industry. It also lays out the red carpet for students at its annual convention in March, subsidizing their travel to Toronto and hosting a luncheon at which students have an opportunity to network with representatives from industry and government.