Axing outdated views: mining week gets an overhaul in Sudbury.When it comes to modern-day mining, the pickaxe and shovel are out and robots and technology are in.
It's a message the organizers of Sudbury Mining Week worked hard to promote this year as students from across the city participated in the annual event designed to raise the awareness of the importance of mining to the area and enhance its profile amongst would-be future miners.
The shift from traditional mining to a hightech version has been occurring over a number of years, but many in the community aren't aware of it, said Nicole Tardif, Sudbury Mining Week chair. The city needs to change long-held, outmoded out·mod·ed
1. Not in fashion; unfashionable: outmoded attire; outmoded ideas.
2. No longer usable or practical; obsolete: outmoded machinery. perceptions of the industry if it wants to interest the next generation in mining as a viable career option.
"We have all these great companies and all these great things that are happening in our city" Tardif said. "If we want those to continue when our baby boomers See generation X. retire, who better to replace them than the people who have grown up in this area?"
The Mining Industry Human Resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees. Council predicts the industry will need 110,000 workers within the next 10 years, but students are shying away from mining because they don't understand the breadth of career options open to them, said Dick DeStefano, honorary chair and executive director of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA).
The days of travelling underground with a jackhammer and blasting a few holes are over, he added. Technology is the new face of Mining.
"Kids have no idea of how big the industry is," DeStefano said. "They have no concept of the technological applications."
Companies like Symboticware are setting the pace, developing underground sensors that can tell remote operators everything from the number of people in a drift to how much diesel fuel underground vehicles are using up, he noted.
As the technology becomes more sophisticated, DeStefano predicts deeper mines with faster and higher extraction rates, creating new kinds of jobs for people in the sector.
"They're going to be remote, they're going to be automated au·to·mate
v. au·to·mat·ed, au·to·mat·ing, au·to·mates
1. To convert to automatic operation: automate a factory.
2. , it's going to be mechanized mech·a·nize
tr.v. mech·a·nized, mech·a·niz·ing, mech·a·niz·es
1. To equip with machinery: mechanize a factory.
2. , and we're not telling that story" he said.
Advanced technology also means a better life-style, with enhanced health and safety of miners, Tardif added.
Recognizing the need for more involvement from the industry, organizers worked closely with mining and mining supply and service companies, engaging their expertise for activities like the Mining Games. Rolling a pair of dice to travel around a board game, much like Monopoly, students then had to search for answers to mining questions, many of them submitted by participating companies.
It was the fourth year Industrial Fabrication fabrication (fab´rikā´shn),
n the construction or making of a restoration. had participated in the event. Vice-president Peter Villgren said his company, which manufactures underground utility vehicles, views the event as a way to educate its future workforce.
"Lots of them know all the latest technology for games and movies, but they aren't always aware of what there is for jobs in the underground environment," he said.
Villgren said the company, which currently has 52 employees and plans to move into a new, 33,500-square-foot manufacturing plant this summer, does 95 per cent of its hiring from within Sudbury. So any predicted local skilled worker shortage affects them directly. It's been particularly challenging to find mechanics.
Like-Villgren, Tristan Anderson, a mining engineer with KGHM, sees Sudbury Mining Week as a good opportunity to encourage students towards the mining industry. The copper miner sees the event as a way to raise its profile, particularly important following its merger with Quadra FNX in the early part of the year.
"A lot of high school students, it doesn't even occur to them to go into geology or mining engineering, so us just being here lets them know that it's an option for them," Anderson said.
If the industry can change the perception of mining as a dirty industry full of hard physical labour, Tardif believes students will start paying attention Noun 1. paying attention - paying particular notice (as to children or helpless people); "his attentiveness to her wishes"; "he spends without heed to the consequences"
attentiveness, heed, regard .
When that happens, Sudbury may finally get caught up with the rest of the world, which views the city .as a modernday mining cluster with world-class research, innovation, manufacturing and extraction abilities.
"When you live in a city you don't tend to visit the museums, you don't tend to go to the places that tourists go to visit and learn about your city," she said. "This is what we want parents and their kids to know: how internationally recognized our companies, our mines, our educational institutions and the research that's being done here are. We want that to be recognized in our community"
By LINDSAY KELLY Northern Ontario Business Northern Ontario Business is a Canadian magazine, which publishes monthly in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. The magazine covers business news and issues in Northern Ontario.