By Eckart Buhlmann
Northern Manitoba’s most important resource is its people. Empowering northerners to prospect the north will accelerate mineral discoveries in Manitoba.
Informal discussions among representatives of northerners, UCN officials and Northern Manitoba Mining Academy personnel explored how prospecting, exploration and discovery in the north can be energized and intensified.
What do you want to achieve with your project?
Members of northern communities are well positioned and supremely gifted for the activities involved in productive prospecting. The program will introduce them to searching techniques for mineralization, how to select ground and secure claims, and how to advance the new finds to properties that they can sell or work on in joint venture.
The program will empower the northern communities to build portfolios of mineral properties, some of which eventually may become mines.
The prospectors can take on contract prospecting assignments for their community, clients from the south or for their own account.
Why is this important?
Northern communities are ideally positioned to take an active role in the search for new mineral deposits. They should consider doing this for their own account and aiming for ownership in mining properties and mines.
Aboriginal organizations are becoming increasingly interested in staking their own claims and doing their own exploration. They will benefit from outside prospecting and geological expertise and from sound partnership arrangements
Which groups will it be important for?
The mining industry suffers from a lack of grassroots exploration. By joint venturing or partnering with northern communities with talented and experienced prospectors, both sides — industry and Aboriginal organizations — can benefit, sharing in the ownership of mineral titles and/or producing mines. Prospecting awareness by northerners will lead to new economic opportunities in the north.
How will they benefit from being involved?
Successful prospecting benefits all participants by increased economic activity and a multitude of opportunities. Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada’s past-president stated recently that the next step is communities actively using their own resources to go out and secure mineral claims, and then working either in partnership or alone to advance those claims into properties they can sell or work on in joint ventures.
How will UCN benefit from being involved?
For University College of the North (UCN), this is the perfect time to introduce the prospector training program to the northern communities. UCN’s foundation of mutual respect and partnership is the perfect base to deliver this program.
Taking on a leadership role by offering this program in northern communities, UCN will benefit from growing enrolments by community members in years to come.
Will this project support priority initiatives identified by the mining sector?
Yes, it will. Companies begin to realize that communities do have tremendous knowledge and ability to work on the land, and understand the land like no one else from outside. A huge partnership opportunity exists here.
How do you plan to achieve the goals you have set for the project?
The approach will consist of learning about some of the basics — minerals, geology, ore deposits — and about the prospecting techniques that help in finding them. Practicing the methods is important. Looking closely at several real-world ore environments will be a main ingredient of the methodology.
The program includes several specific field trips by boat, ATV, snowmobile and float/ski planes. These will be based on choices and decisions made in close team work.
What kind of timeline are you looking at to complete your project?
It will take instructors five weeks to teach the material in the prospector training certificate program.
Part of the program will be instructed in the field, with the will take place at the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy.
How much money and resources do you think are needed to carry out this project?
The cost per student is estimated at $6,800. We are aiming at twelve students for a total of $81,600.
Will other organizations (such as industry and Aboriginal groups) be willing to contribute money and/or in-kind contributions such as time or equipment to the project?
Financial assistance can be found from federal sources through the communities’ employment and training coordinators, and through support from Employment Manitoba. Sponsors can play an extremely important, exemplary role in offering moral and financial support to prospector trainees.
What kind of measurements will you use to evaluate the success of the project?
Measures include the number of students passing the exams, the number of mineral claims staked by the communities in the next six to 12 months, the number of MPAP (Manitoba Prospector Assistance Program) applications submitted and approved. The number and type of samples submitted for assay and the results will be a powerful measure of individual projects.
Could this project be replicated in other western Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C.)?
The project can be replicated in Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. with few modifications. It can also be replicated in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
Special thanks to Fire Spirit Inc. for its support of the prospector trainees. We also thank the communities of OCN, Moose Lake and Gods Lake Narrows for their unwavering support.
Successful completion of the Wilderness Safety Training program
Classes offered for the
Prospector Training Certificate Program:
RRR0300 Manitoba Mining Industry
RRR0301 Line Cutting
RRR0302 Introduction to Rock Classification
RRR0303 Introduction to Minerals
RRR0304 Navigation Skills for Prospecting
RRR0305 Claim Staking
RRR0306 Introduction to Geophysical Surveys and Techniques
RRR0307 Introduction to Geochemical Surveys and Techniques
RRR0308 Blaster Safety Training
RRR0309 Drilling and Sampling
RRR0310 Prospector Administration