In 2007, Smithers Exploration Group received a $100,000 grant from Northern Development through the Economic Diversification Infrastructure program towards this $373,500 project. This has been a funding partnership of Smithers Exploration Group, Northern Development, Minerals North Conference, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Northwest Community College, and Rio Tinto Kennecott
2012- In response to the training needs of northwest communities and the mining and mineral exploration industry, Northwest Community College and its industry partner Smithers Exploration Group have developed the School of Exploration and Mining. The School of Exploration and Mining serves employers, learners and funders. It is unique in its utilization of applied education models of delivery with an industry-driven curriculum that is culturally relevant and focused on learner success.
The School of Exploration and Mining excels at workforce training and development, opening doors for northern residents to work at every mine and exploration project in northern BC and beyond. Much of its training is delivered through mobile, bush camp classroom training programs that provide hands-on experience to students. Specifically, Northern Development’s funding has supported the growth of the school beyond training for exploration work to preparation for employment at a mine site. It has contributed to the purchase of heavy equipment simulators to demonstrate the scope of employment at a mine site and microscopes and a digital stereo microscope to enhance classroom training for environmental assessment employment, along with necessary curriculum development.
"It is great to see how the use of the simulators at the job fairs and trade shows attracts so much attention. Suddenly these kids see themselves running a piece of heavy equipment and that's an eye-opener for them."Rob Maurer, Industry Liaison and Industry Advisor, Northwest Community College School of Exploration and Mining
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Northwest Community College School of Mining and Exploration and its sponsors for setting up the heavy duty equipment simulators at Hazelton Secondary School. More than 120 students were able to try the simulators. In a time when many learning opportunities are being trimmed or stopped all together, it was wonderful to see so many kids getting a chance to see if they had an aptitude for this kind of work, and to hear that they could get the training they needed close to home at Northwest Community College."Andy de Boer, Principal, Hazelton Secondary School
Mines in northern British Columbia - new and existing - are vital drivers in the economy of the heartland of the Province. The School of Exploration and Mining is a valuable addition to the Northwest Community College as it trains students to become proficient in fields related to the mining sector, further increasing the quality of the labor force in the region. The school also takes the message of the importance of mining to many communities through trade shows, job fairs and conferences.
In the next decade, 11 projects in the advanced pre-development stage in the northwest have the potential for 3000 direct jobs, as well as 5 other mines close to development decisions in the rest of the province. The School of Exploration and Mining through its programs and those of Northwest Community College will provide entry-level training through to trades and technical positions for current and future mines. BC mines are committed to hiring First Nations and the NWCC School of Exploration & Mining plays a vital role in training First Nations for those jobs. In 2009, the School of Exploration and Mining trained 150 students; about 78% were from 25 different First Nations communities.