Lakehead stakes a claim to exploration: university discusses mineral centre of excellence.Thunder Bay's Lakehead University Lakehead University, at Thunder Bay, Ont., Canada; founded 1946 as Lakehead Technical Institute. It achieved university status in 1965. Lakehead has faculties of arts and science, business, education, engineering, forestry, library and information studies, nursing, is laying the groundwork to develop a centre of excellence in mineral exploration.
With the mining scene booming in northwestern Ontario Northwestern Ontario is the region within the Canadian province of Ontario which lies north and west of Lake Superior, and west of Hudson Bay and James Bay. It includes most of subarctic Ontario. and Thunder Bay Thunder Bay, city (1991 pop. 113,946), SW Ont., Canada, on Thunder Bay inlet of Lake Superior. The city was created in 1970 by the amalgamation of the twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur and two adjoining townships. positioning itself as an industry service hub, university president Brian Stevenson said the time is right to academically support this rapidly growing sector.
"We're building a case to establish a centre of excellence for mineral exploration and mining sustainability."
Though still in the discussion stage internally, Stevenson said it will combine the university's strengths in exploration and environmental studies with other elements to create an interdisciplinary program.
"It's clear that mining is going to become a major economic driver in northwestern Ontario in the next 20 to 30 years, and the university has to be at the forefront of that."
At its core is its popular geology department, but the program curriculum will involve input from faculty in engineering, business, health sciences, natural resources management and Aboriginal studies.
"All around the mining industry there are a lot of secondary and academic programs that aren't just about extraction, but about exploration, environmental assessment and reaching out to Aboriginal people; the social and economics side of it," said Stevenson.
"We want to build a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary centre of excellence that brings all of our researchers together. That's the role the university can play in filling the gap between the Aboriginal communities and the mining industry"
Stevenson said he was engaged in a similar initiative at the University of Alberta in supporting that province's energy sector.
He cautioned that it's a mistake to assume that Lakehead intends to directly compete with other Canadian universities and start pumping out mining engineers.
"We're not into the extraction part here, that's what Laurentian (University in Sudbury) does. The idea is that we should be complementing each other.
"Our goal is to listen to industry, the communities and develop the program within our expertise without trying to duplicate what other institutions fin the country are doing."
He placed no timelines on how fast a program could be developed, but added it could come together "quite quickly"
"Whether we need support from industry or government, we'll know later on. But I think the province would expect us to take leadership on issues of supporting our economy in northwestrn Ontario."
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