Dec '07/Jan '08

Student Life

On the road to discovery

By J.-F. Lepage

A typical day in mining exploration with Virginia Mines

For all those who, like me, don’t come from a mining region or who don’t know anyone in the field, the world of mining can be quite mysterious. It is with an adventurous spirit, the desire to discover unknown fields and a long-time passion for geology that I decided, following my high school studies, to pursue a diploma in mineral technology at the Cégep de Thetford.

The first two years of the geology, mining and mineral processing programs have the same curriculum. This allowed me to discover many aspects of mining. What began as an interest in geology transformed into an even stronger interest in mineral processing.

Even though I chose to study mineral processing in my third year, I carried out my first internship in mining exploration with Virginia Mines after I completed my second year. I discovered the incredible excitement of waking up each morning with the aspiration of discovering a new mine. I also had the chance to experience life in an exploration camp in northern Québec. What an unforgettable experience for an 18-year-old.

The mutual aid and friendship among colleagues and teaching personnel led us to begin corresponding with the University of Loja in Ecuador. This resulted in a two-week trip there, where we went to the heart of the equator. We criss-crossed the country visiting exceptional geological sites, from active volcanoes to petrified wood forests. We also discovered a different culture, with people as passionate as we were for geology and mining.

During my last year in Cégep, I attended two important mining conferences — the Annual Canadian Mineral Processors Operators’ Conference in Ottawa and the CIM Conference and Exhibition in Montreal. During these two events, I met numerous people who were very optimistic about the future of mining in Canada as well as the rest of the world. I established relationships with other students who also were newcomers to this field. What a great experience!

Following all of these adventures, I still had an internship left before obtaining my diploma. Last summer, I worked as a mineral processing technician at Québec Cartier Mining Company’s Mont-Wright concentrator. My internship was very enriching, on both professional and personal levels. I once again had the chance to work for a mining company that is optimistic about the future of the industry.

It is with all these great experiences and an ever-increasing interest that I am pursuing my studies in this field — I’ve recently begun a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering at Laval University. I will once again get the chance to learn and experience new things during my internships over the next four years, which will lead me to a great career in the mining industry.

Jean-Félix Lepage is an undergraduate student in metallurgical engineering at Laval University.

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