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Boréal to launch prospecting program

Jeff Lafortune, a professor with the program, said Boréal decided to create the program after a series of committee meetings in 2007 and 2008.
Collège Boréal is launching a new prospecting and exploration technician program next year to help fill an industry need for more entry-level workers. File photo.
Jeff Lafortune, a professor with the program, said Boréal decided to create the program after a series of committee meetings in 2007 and 2008.

One member of the advisory committee suggested the college offer a program to train future prospectors and exploration technicians.

The school then consulted with the mining sector to see if such a program was needed.
“The majority of the respondents indicated there was a need,” Lafortune said.

Students will learn a variety of skills to aid them in the exploration cycle, including how to use geographic information systems, mineral and rock identification, field mapping, and how to use AutoCAD, a popular program that allows for computer-aided design and drafting.

After they graduate, prospecting and exploration technicians will work under the supervision of geologists, geological engineers, and site managers. They will work in collaboration with drilling and surveying workers, mine operators, and blasters.

Lafortune said entry-level jobs often pay around $40,000 a year and offer many opportunities for advancement, either through experience or continued education to become a field geologist, for instance.

The program, he said, is aimed at people who love the outdoors and have a strong sense of adventure.

The first class, which begins in September 2015, said Lafortune, will be able to accommodate 15 to 20 students.

Dick DeStefano, executive director of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA), said the program is important because a large number of prospectors are near retirement.

Staking mining claims is also the first step toward mineral production and wealth creation.

But DeStefano said he expects a lot of the program's graduates to become entrepreneurs, launching their own exploration companies.

While the mining industry could be in better shape when they graduate, the ongoing down-cycle has been especially hard on exploration.

In late 2013, Garry Clark, the executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association, told the mining downturn had a big impact on exploration.

“This is probably the hardest year I've ever seen,” he said at the time. “I've been in the business since 1983.”

At the Ontario Exploration and Geoscience Symposium in November 2014 Scott McLean, president and CEO of Sudbury-based Transition Metals, said the last year was also difficult for mineral exploration in Ontario, but better than 2013.

“2015, I expect, is going to be better than 2014,” he said. “But realistically speaking, I think we're a ways out from the good traction in the mining equity markets.”

Cambrian College's mining engineering technician program also teaches students skills they can use for a career in mineral exploration.


Jonathan Migneault

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