In an effort to dig up the latest information about mining for teachers to use in the classroom, 35 educators are spending the week touring the mining industry in northeastern Ontario.

The Teachers' Mining Tour is part of a week-long conference organized by the Ontario Mining Association and will take place at the Canadian Ecology Centre, near Mattawa, Ont.

During the week, teachers will learn about mineral exploration, mine development, geology and sectors of the economy supported by mining directly and indirectly.  Along with hands-on training through workshops, the teachers will have an opportunity to see mining in person.

Teachers will visit Xstrata Nickel’s Nickel Rim South Mine and Vale’s metallurgical complex in Sudbury and learn about technologies helping the environment. They will also visit a number of mining manufacturing facilities in North Bay, including Atlas Copco.

Reversing misconceptions

Teacher Chris Donaldson is participating in the tour. Although he studied the environment at university, he said his perception of mining came out of a textbook and not real life — including the impact mining has on the environment.

"We never really looked at, 'well what have we done in the last 100 years to remedy this’," Donaldson said.

He said the tour is reversing his own misconceptions about mining. And it’s a change in perception that he will take back to the classroom.

"I'm kinda being able to break or shatter that illusion that … [mining is an] unsafe working environment," he said.

That’s just one message the president of the Ontario Mining Association wants to convey.

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Ontario Mining Association president Chris Hodgson says the mining industry needs to replace retiring baby boomers. Getting that message to students is key. (OMA)

Chris Hodgson said he also wants to see students encouraged to turn to the industry for a career.

"We have a lot of boomers facing retirement or looking forward to retirement and we need to replace those employees," he said.

That's why many organizations and businesses are picking up the tab for the event.

Supporters of the Teacher’s Mining Tour include the OMA and several of its member companies, the Canadian Institute of Mining’s Underground Mining Society, CIM Sudbury Branch, CIM North Bay (Gateway) Branch, the Sudbury and Area Mining Supply and Service Association and Ed Geo, an organization of the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences that supports workshops for teachers.

The event wraps up on Aug. 10.