This week, May 9-15, is National Mining Week. Several provinces and territories celebrate their own mining weeks, but this is the one proclaimed by the federal government. There is even a website at www.nrcan.gc.ca/mms/nmw.
This year’s theme is “Mining and Aboriginal Communities Working in Partnership”. There is a strong link between our industry and native peoples. Often it is because the most promising deposits are found near their remote communities. In fact, about 1,200 aboriginal villages are located within 200 km of mining activities.
“Mining has become the economic backbone of many aboriginal communities. In every region, mining provides some of the highest weekly earnings in the economy, averaging more than $1,000, compared with average weekly earnings of $650 for the entire Canadian economy,” Minister of Natural Resources Canada John Efford says in his message.
“Mining, however, does more than provide jobs. It provides opportunities for acquiring transferable skills and building businesses, for tapping traditional knowledge, and for ensuring that those people and communities touched by natural resources development are enriched by it. For instance, in the Northwest Territories, aboriginal people make up 28% of the work force at the Ekati diamond mine and 38% at the Diavik diamond mine.
“Mining companies also benefit. An increasing number of aboriginal youth will be looking for jobs and will be able to turn to the mining industry for career opportunities. This increased participation of aboriginal peoples in mining will help the industry meet an expected shortage of skilled workers due to an aging work force in our country.”
The opportunities for both aboriginal participation and mineral industry success cannot be overstated.
NRCan further marked National Mining Week by re-opening Canmet’s research mill in the old Mines Branch Building on Booth Street in Ottawa. “The Mill” can replicate a complete mineral processing plant from crushing to effluent treatment. The four-year, $7-million upgrade gives the mill the ability to optimize the most modern technologies.
I’m happy to know that the federal government supports our mining industry. But it is certainly doing it in a low-key manner this week. Perhaps the talk of a non-confidence motion in Parliament has the whole government lying low. There has been nothing in the Ottawa newspapers nor in Canada’s two national papers. It is a shame that the mainstream press has ignored National Mining Week.