August 2012

Rising star in “Canada’s game”

McIntosh Engineering Scholarship winner determined to be a leader in mining

By Dan Plouffe

For McIntosh Engineering Scholarship Fund recipient Matt Botnick, pursuing a career in mining is all about variety; it is about the variety in the subject matter he studies as a third-year Queen’s University student, the diverse number of products the industry generates, the multitude of jobs available in all kinds of different locations, and the potential for his career to have widespread influence.

The Markham, Ontario native first went to Queen’s with designs on becoming a civil engineer, but getting a taste of earth science and geology courses swayed him towards mining, and then hearing a speech from a Queen’s alumnus cemented the shift in focus.

“He basically said, ‘All other engineers work for mining engineers,’” Botnick recalls with a laugh. “And he also said, ‘China is putting out more PhD students than we have students in Canada, but mining engineering is sort of Canada’s game right now.’”

The broad spectrum of jobs available was another pull towards mining, adds Botnick, listing many areas of interest for potential future employment: planetary resources, space mining and mine design. Continuing his studies to be involved on the business side of the industry is something that has also piqued his interest.

The diverse opportunities offered in mining are one big part of the attraction, Botnick explains, as is being a part of an industry that plays such a critical role in Canada.

“We’re a natural resource economy. It’s a driving force. It’s really where our economy starts and I don’t see us, as a country, moving away from it any time soon,” he points out. “You can’t think of a product that doesn’t have something from the ground in it. That definitely creates an allure. You can be proud of being able to see something that you’ve helped mine in everyday life.”

The possibility of working abroad or in remote areas is also intriguing to Botnick, who is headed to Nevada in September to visit mine sites with his class, and then on to Australia to study on exchange.

One area Botnick believes the industry needs to manage better is community relations. “Stories from some foreign mine sites where there have been cases of mercury poisoning, and locals taking potshots at company caravans, are evidence of the problem,” he says.

“I think mining needs to give back to the local community as well as to make something out of it economically. They’re on the way to getting where they should be, but it’s always a ­challenge.”

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