The first of this year's two planned Teachers' Mining Tours (TMT) was held from July 4 to 8. The Teachers' Mining Tour is a professional development program for educators hosted at the Canadian Ecology Centre (CEC), located near Mattawa, Ontario, and supported by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA). We are grateful to OMA members, who open their doors to offer hands-on learning opportunities to TMT participants - in this case, North American Palladium.
The five day program gave participants an opportunity to experience life as a worker at a mine site, with accommodation provided by North American Palladium at its Lac Des Iles property, which is located approximately 90 km northwest of Thunder Bay. With access to every location on the site, TMT participants received an in-depth understanding of the entire mining process. They toured the underground mine, open pit, Tailings Management Facility, Water Management Facility, Mill, and core facility. In addition, they visited Accurassay Laboratories in Thunder Bay to see how core samples are processed and ores are valued. An excursion arranged by Lakehead University offered an opportunity to explore some of the geological sites of interest in the City of Thunder Bay and gain experience on using local outcrops as teaching tools. The teachers also toured the Toromont facility and spectacular Kakabeka Falls.
According to Lesley Hymers, Environment and Education Specialist at the OMA, "The goal of the Teachers' Mining Tour is to provide educators with the information, skills and resources that they need to become more proficient at educating their students about the mining industry and, through this increased knowledge and experience, to encourage their students to pursue post-secondary education and careers in Earth Sciences and mining-related disciplines."
Since its inception in 2010, the TMT initiative has succeeded in creating a vibrant network of teachers who are using mining as a theme in their classrooms and promoting informed opinions among students with regard to the economic, social and environmental aspects of mining. TMT content focuses on modern mining techniques and technology, environmental responsibility, workplace safety, and mining careers.
The OMA is grateful to everyone who supported and took part in this exceptional professional development initiative. Lesley Hymers summed up participant feedback by saying that, "the inaugural Northwestern Ontario teachers mining tour was a success," adding that, "We look forward to the TMT2, which is being offered on August 22-26 in Timmins and North Bay."