School of Mines adds value to mining cluster – by Dick Destefano (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – November 2012)

Dick DeStefano is the Executive Director of Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA) This column was originally published in the November 2012 issue of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal.

October 15, 2012 was a special day for Northern Ontario and mining. On this day, Ned Goodman, CEO of Dundee Corporation, and the Goodman Family Foundation announced an historic gift to Laurentian University’s new School of Mines.

Laurentian University president Dominic Giroux also announced that the university will name the school in honour of the Goodman family. This announcement stems from early meetings I had on behalf of SAMSSA with president Giroux in the first weeks of his appointment about three years ago.

I suggested that one of the missing components of the Northern Ontario mining cluster was a comprehensive academic centre that would add value to mining and supply and service companies regionally and gradually become a global centre of all things mining.

Many internal meetings at Laurentian and public consultations with the industry led to the October 15th announcement.

I agree with Ned Goodman’s comment at the announcement when he stated, “Greater Sudbury has the best orebody and largest concentration of expertise in mining supply, products and services in the world. We want to be associated with Laurentian University because it’s undoubtedly the go-to for university for mineral exploration and mining in Canada.”

The need for highly skilled managers and graduates in all aspects of mining is well documented and the absence of a central agency within the framework of Laurentian University has now been rectified.

The new School of Mining demonstrates vision and commitment to Sudbury’s mining legacy and bright future.

I was invited to be a member of the faculty selection committee for the founding executive director of the Goodman School of Mines. The quality of candidates was exceptionally high. Inviting private sector participation in the selection process was important and will augur well for the future growth of the school.

The mandate for the school and the new executive director is of great importance and will require a major effort especially in the early stages of development.

The Goodman School of Mines will focus on:

• Enhancing the skills of future professionals in mineral exploration and mining in areas such as occupational health and safety, indigenous relations, mining management and finance

• Driving the creation of executive programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels in modular, short courses or distance education formats and other delivery mechanisms as opportunities arise

• Formalizing new professional, national and international alliances with other post-secondary institutions, including an international network of mining schools with Laurentian serving as a major hub

• Doubling enrolment in mining-related programs by 2020, and

• Improving the university experience for students in Earth Sciences and Engineering.

This list of objectives will require significant effort, but in a few years we should see some positive results and successes.

Laurentian University and Northern Ontario have a unique presence in the global mining industry. Throughout the past 100 years, we have seen multiple advances and refinements in mining – especially in the underground environment.

The existence of respected research agencies like CEMI and MIRARCO have added real value to the mining cluster.

The existence of community colleges specifically targeting skills programs for industry adds value to the Northern Ontario mining cluster.

The innovative mining supply and service companies have always been a major force in the cluster.

I was exceptionally pleased to watch the Northern Ontario mining cluster emerge with a clear focus on being a world centre of mining excellence and building on its historical expertise and assets as its foundation.

The Goodman School of Mines is another step forward and adds value to the importance of Northern Ontario mining activity at all levels.