Dec '09/Jan '10

The proven potential and uncertain prospects of PDAC Mining Matters

Mining education program risks losing momentum

By L. Clinton


Youth attending the First Nations Natural Resources Youth Employment Program learn about mineral resource extraction and careers in mining during a tour at North American Palladium’s Lac des Iles mine.

It is the best and worst of times for the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Mining Matters (PDAC Mining Matters).

Over the past decade, PDAC Mining Matters has brought geoscience and the importance of mineral resources to life for educators and students by offering engaging and scientifically accurate classroom resources that integrate with established provincial curricula.

The organization successfully promotes mineral exploration and mining as career options for young people, reaching out in particular to Aboriginal youth in their own communities. For a second year, PDAC Mining Matters, in partnership with Outland Inc., delivered geoscience and mineral industry educational programming for Aboriginal youth aged 16 to 19 at the First Nations Natural Resource Youth Employment Program (FNNRYEP) in Upsala, Ontario.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, FNNRYEP welcomed 30 Aboriginal youth from 18 different communities, from Kenora to Kirkland Lake. Building on this success, PDAC Mining Matters also presented programming at the Manitoba Rangers Program — an expansion, first-year, pilot camp based on the FNNRYEP model. Fourteen youth attended from ten different communities, from Shamattawa to Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

The organization is as devoted as ever to broadening and deepening the understanding of the mining industry’s role in our society. Unfortunately, it has been a tough year for the industry. In hard times, companies look for ways to trim costs, such as cutting donations to charitable organizations such as PDAC Mining Matters. But while funding declines, the demand for their programs remains strong, as educators recognize the integral role that the mining industry plays in our society.

“The gap is really stretching the organization,” says PDAC Mining Matters president Patricia Dillon. “It is essential that we connect with more people who can lend their support by giving.”

The steady demand for the programs serves as a testament to their success. The organization began by offering two school programs, Deeper and Deeper and Mining Matters II — The Earth’s Crust, to Ontario elementary schools, then expanded nationally to the high school curriculum with Discovering Diamonds. Workshops have now been delivered in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Northwest Territories. Project funding from the Mining Industry Attraction, Recruitment, and Retention Strategy — administered by the Mining Industry Human Resources Council — has made recent curriculum expansion activities and resource production possible.

PDAC Mining Matters also showcases the mineral exploration industry for students and teachers at the annual PDAC International Convention, Tradeshow and Investors Exchange with three days of educational programming — one for teachers and two for students, incorporating guest speakers, hands-on learning activities, and visits to the trade show floor. 

It also participates in the annual CIM Conference and Exhibition Mining in Society Show (MIS), which educates students, teachers and the general public about the importance of mineral resources through interactive experiences that complement the show’s pavilion themes — exploration, mining, processing, sustainability, products and fabrication, education, and new frontiers. Students attending MIS are encouraged to compete in the Amazing Mine Challenge, an information scavenger hunt.

Future work for PDAC Mining Matters involves translating resources into French to expand programming to Québec; increasing workshop delivery and student reach in Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, producing new resources; continuing outreach to Aboriginal communities; and cultivating further education, industry, and government partnerships. By focusing on these areas, PDAC Mining Matters hopes to increase student interest in geoscience and mineral exploration, as well as mining industry careers.

To make a donation in support of PDAC Mining Matters’ educational efforts visit Charitable tax receipts are issued for all gifts.

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