March/April 2007

Investing in the leaders of tomorrow

By A. Nichiporuk

This year’s recipient of the Arthur W. Foley scholarship, awarded by the Canadian Mining and Metallurgical Foundation, is Isabelle Leblanc. She is open-minded, adventurous, and ready for a challenge. A fourth-year mining engineering student at École Polytechnique, she is encouraged by the numerous opportunities open to students entering this industry. Leblanc shared some of her experiences and some thoughts on the industry’s future.

CIM: What influenced your decision to study mining engineering?

IL: I was immediately attracted to the mining sector with its unique work environment, challenges of an everchanging field, opportunities for travel, etc. After obtaining a college diploma in mineral technology from the Cégep de Thetford, I registered in mining engineering at École Polytechnique.

CIM: As mining engineering is a coop program, tell us a bit about your internships.

IL: I worked at Mont-Wright for QCM and, more recently, at Inmet Mining’s Troilus mine, where I was in charge of a project involving Demag excavators. I also worked on day-to-day mine planning. I really enjoyed the mining camp lifestyle. I am currently doing an internship at Breton Banville et Associés, a consulting engineering firm. It is very different from working at a minesite and I am learning many new and exciting things.

CIM: What are the advantages of being a young student in this industry?

IL: As the industry is in a growth cycle, there are many advantages to being a new graduate, such as excellent job opportunities and competitive salaries. As the mining community is relatively small, it allows young people to rapidly fit in and opens many doors that would otherwise be shut in other engineering fields.

CIM: What can mining companies do to counter the lack of human resources?

IL: Even though mining companies are offering very competitive wages, not many people want to live in remote regions. A solution might be to make these regions more attractive by favouring cultural activities. However, I believe that it is mainly the lack of information on the mining industry that is the reason so few people choose a career in mining. Informative promotional campaigns on the mining industry could represent a possible solution.

CIM: What is your career plan?

IL: I don’t have a precise career plan as of yet. I am open to several possibilities, and I am not ruling out the idea of possibly returning to school. I would like to travel a bit during my career, which I hope will be long, with many interesting challenges.

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