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Province Presents MEFA Funding

Bulkley Valley-Stikine MLA Dennis MacKAY presented Smithers Exploration Group (SEG) with a cheque for $50,000 today to continue the Northwest Community College School of Exploration and Mining's bush camp training program. SEG is the industry partner in the School of Exploration and Mining. The Mining Exploration Field Assistant (MEFA) camps were one of the first programs offered by the school in 2005. The MEFA course is still the cornerstone of the programs at the School. Students live and learn in bush camp classrooms that ensure the training for work in exploration camps is very close to the real thing. The 8-day course covers everything from wilderness safety to GPS navigation skills and soil sampling. Other programs at the school, such as the longer Reclamation and Prospecting (RAP) program, expand on the basic skills offered through MEFA. Since 2005, more than 270 students have successfully completed the MEFA camps. In 2007 there were 58 graduates from four MEFA camps. Nearly 80% of the grads found work, with 61% in Industry Related Employment and 28% in Resource Related Employment. Over 90% of the 2007 MEFA graduates were First Nations with more than 60% of them employed. "The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources recognizes that the MEFA camps are an important part of the booming mineral exploration industry across northern BC," MacKay says. "Exploration spending in northwestern BC topped a new high of $170 million in 2007 and there's no sign of a slowdown in that exploration work." Judi L'Orsa is a director with Smithers Exploration Group. "MEFA camps also play a role in preparation for employment at operating mines," says L'Orsa. "They are great for developing interest in the industry. MEFA graduates are already working in the existing operating mines, after they got a start in the industry in seasonal exploration work." "Regional exploration continues to be strong in the Northwest with mineral prices at an all time high," states NWCC President, Stephanie Forsyth. "This translates into strong demand for the MEFA programs and the other related programs the School is offering. We are grateful for the Ministry's assistance in helping us and our School partners in addressing the skills shortage in this sector." Developed in response to the skills shortages, Northwest Community College's School of Exploration & Mining, in partnership with Smithers Exploration Group, develops industry-related courses and programs and offers training in various areas of exploration and mining.

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