GEOLOGY featured in LU 2011-2012 Report to the Community


EDUCATING the leaders of tomorrow

Al MacTavish and Panoramic staff
Al MacTavish and Panoramic staff

A big part of Professor Peter Hollings's job is helping industry partners find highly-skilled employees. And these days, employers are finding that Lakehead University geology graduates have all the right stuff!

Just ask Al MacTavish. He is an exploration manager with Panoramic PGMs Canada Limited (formerly Magma Metals (Canada) Limited), an Australian-based company which is exploring a rich deposit of nickel, copper, platinum, and palladium located 50 km northeast of Thunder Bay. MacTavish currently has five Lakehead alumni on the payroll and he usually hires about three Lakehead students to work with him every summer. To date, the company has invested more than $60M in their Northwestern Ontario property and many more millions will be invested before a mine is constructed. Two-thirds of that investment, says MacTavish, is being spent locally.

The emphasis Lakehead's Geology department places on both cutting-edge research and hands-on experience is giving our students a competitive edge. "Geology graduates coming from Lakehead University are more centred in doing mapping and fieldwork than those coming from the larger cities," says MacTavish. "They are more willing to go into the bush with the bugs and the dirt, rain, snow, and ice and accept it happily as part of the job."

MacTavish should know. He completed an MSc in Geology from Lakehead in 1992 while working full-time, first with the Ontario Geological Survey and then with LAC Minerals. For the past five years, the professional geologist has been managing Panoramic's Canadian office.

There has been a noticeable change in the focus of Lakehead University's Department of Geology, says Hollings. "Over the last 10 years I have watched faculty members become more engaged with industry partners and seen an increase in the number of collaborative research projects."

The mining industry relies on new ideas, he says. For the most part, the easy deposits have all been found and now the industry is challenged to find deposits that are smaller or under cover. As a consequence, the industry needs to develop its exploration techniques and is relying more on the expertise of geologists with advanced degrees.

According to Hollings, geologists are a tightly-knit group and are keen to get their students working. Often, a Lakehead faculty member will act as an intermediary for companies looking for students and graduates with the right kind of education and experience.

An exciting new development that bodes well for both students and faculty at Lakehead University is the creation of the Centre of Excellence in Mineral Exploration and Sustainable Mining Development. The idea behind this Centre is to bring together a multidisciplinary team of researchers in the sciences, engineering, and social sciences that can assist those interested in pursuing mineral exploration and sustainable mining development. The proposed Centre would collaborate with industry and community partners to carry out research in discovery, advanced exploration and development, and the environmental and social aspects of mineral exploration.

"More than 20 Lakehead researchers from a wide range of disciplines have expressed an interest in collaborating on issues pertaining to First Nations communities and resources," says Hollings. "One of the main goals of the Centre of Excellence will be to help in building bridges between First Nations and the mining sector."

With its experience and expertise in northern and Aboriginal issues, Lakehead University is uniquely positioned to help Ontario - and Canada - develop its natural and human resources in a sustainable way.

image of Ewan Downie

left quote markPremier Gold Mines Limited is committed to employing workers in local communities, promoting higher education, and reducing financial barriers to those seeking a career in the mining industry.

As part of our commitment, we are pleased to have been a participant in Lakehead University's Scholarship/Bursary Award Program.

Lakehead University is a place where we hope to encourage local people to learn about and participate in the mining industry.

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~ Ewan Downie, President & CEO
Premier Gold Mines Ltd.

image of Harold Lindstrom

left quote markThe Construction Association of Thunder Bay has sponsored a scholarship at Lakehead University since the early 70s.

There was need then and it still exists today.

The construction industry needs skilled journeymen and apprentices, design professionals, architects and engineers, and business accountants and business managers.

If we can help one student by easing their financial burden, it may result in one more trained employee for our industry.

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~ Harold Lindstrom, Manager
Construction Association of Thunder Bay