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SEM 2013 field school on metal leaching and acid rock drainage

Successful mining field school at NWCC attracts students nationwide

September 18, 2013 -Thirty-three students from across Canada gathered at Northwest Community College (NWCC), Smithers Campus from August 26 to 30, 2013 to participate in a field school about metal leaching and acid rock drainage (ML/ARD), the major environmental and reclamation challenges faced by the mining industry. 

The long running course at NWCC School of Exploration and Mining (SEM) provides participants with a basic understanding of the procedures used to assess and prevent ML/ARD impacts. This technical expertise is essential to professionals who manage proposed, operating and closed mines; regulate environmental assessments; plan and conduct research and protect public resources.  

A diverse number of professionals working in the mining industry including technicians, environmental consultants, geologists and government officials from New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Yukon and British Columbia spent five days with Dr. Bill Price, one of Canada’s foremost experts on ML/ARD. A research scientist with Natural Resources Canada, Price, based out of Smithers, has spent the last twenty years reviewing mines. He is the author of the British Columbia and Ontario ML/ARD Guidelines and Manual of Prediction Methods, documents used worldwide. 

Much of the time during the field school is spent touring mines in Northwest BC, including GoldCorp’s Equity Silver Mine, Imperial Metals Huckleberry Mine, Xtrata Corp’s Bell mine and Silver Standard’s Duthie Mine. 

"This unique, field based program would not be possible without the partnership, support and expertise of Natural Resources Canada and our mining industry partners" said Danielle Smyth, Projects Administrator at NWCC School of Exploration & Mining.  "We are proud to be delivering a nationally recognized program that highlights best practices in mine reclamation and environmental protection". 

Susan Winch from Franz Environmental Inc. said, “I really appreciated having the opportunity to look at how the geochemistry and environmental conditions of a mine site are tied to all aspects of the mine: from the mine plan and regulatory requirements to financing, engineering, equipment and staffing as well as political and economic considerations. Additionally, the contrast of an operational mine with post-closure mines, “good” and “bad” examples of how ML/ARD was handled, larger and smaller mine sites and a range of long-term management strategies made this a very rich learning experience.”

Michael Aubie, Sustainable Development Captain with the Brunswick Mine 12 Closure Project, said the highlight for him was, “being able to see the real life application of ML/ARD control at the various sites visited.” He commented that the instructors were, “all very knowledgeable on the subject matter and dedicated to reducing harm to the environment”.

NWCC SEM was established in 2004 to serve the training needs of the minerals and exploration industry. It consistently demonstrates innovative methods to deliver training that is responsive to industry, customized for the needs of its clients and accessible in remote locations and industrial sites. Since its inception, more than 1000 students have graduated from NWCC SEM.

About NWCC
Northwest Community College is an accredited post-secondary education institution that offers a range of comprehensive courses and programs to the northwest region of British Columbia. It serves this area through campuses in Haida Gwaii (Skidegate, Masset, Village of Queen Charlotte), Hazelton, Houston, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Smithers and Terrace. NWCC celebrates the diversity of its northern and First Nations populations and reflects this diversity in its programs, services and workforce.

For more information contact:
Debra Wall
Acting manager, Communications & Public Relations
Northwest Community College
1.877.277.2288 (Toll Free) or 250.638.5494

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