The mining department at Queen’s University received an unprecedented $10-million donation from alumnus and Kinross Gold founder Robert M. Buchan. The university claims this is the largest single donation to mining education in Canadian history. In recognition of the gift, the department will be renamed the Buchan Department of Mining. Queen’s department of mining engineering dates back to 1893 and is now one of the largest in North America.
The $10-million donation is expected to help alleviate the anticipated shortage of trained mining engineers. A portion of the funds, $2 million, will be spent on new student-focused programs and curriculum development, course materials and distance learning infrastructure. The remainder, $8 million, will endow academic and staff positions. Thanks to the Buchan’s generosity, Queen’s will deliver a professional master of science program in mineral resources management (MRM), the first of its kind in Canada.
Nor is this the only recent large donation to mining education and research. In June the University of Toronto announced a $20-million centre for mining innovation. The federal and provincial governments will each pony up $5.5 million, and the balance will be privately donated. The largest donor commitment is expected to come from Pierre Lassonde, president of Newmont Mining.
In 2007 the University of Ottawa was the beneficiary of a $25 million donation from alumnus and Goldcorp chairman Ian Telfer. His largess prompted the university to rename its school of management after its biggest supporter. Because this money did not go to mining education, we won’t hold it against Queen’s claim that it Buchan’s $10 million was the largest ever to a mining department.
The University of British Columbia received $7.5 million in the name of Norman B. Keevil, founder of Teck, in 2006. The money funded the institute of mining engineering that bears his name.
Hats off to these wealthy individuals who give back to the training of the next generation of mining experts. Their donations, and the similar (if smaller) support of so many in the Canadian mining industry, go a very long way toward dispelling the notion that miners are robber barons.