Computers. Phones. Cars. Batteries. Some of the very things that may ultimately power our world without the reliance on fossil fuels, and save our environment, rely on mining the materials to create them from the same ground from which we extract fossil fuels.
Much about mining has changed, from the way it is conducted, to the safety of the individuals who work in the industry, to its impact on the environment and companies’ commitments to sustainable practices.
This is a big part of the reason why Modern Mining & Technology Sudbury (MMTS) has evolved a long way from its Sudbury Mining Week roots.
“MMTS is really about looking forward and ensuring we have a sustainable industry that has the people required to match the need,” says MMTS Committee Co-Chair Nicole Tardif. “Mining earned a reputation from its past that, while not necessarily unfair, is no longer reflective of where the industry finds itself today. We see part of MMTS’s job to be telling that story in order to move us all forward.”
Sudbury Mining Week was started by the Ontario Mining Association in the early 90s as an opportunity to promote and salute the industry that had built the Sudbury community. Different activities and events were held for children and their families, many of which focused on the history of mining. But while there would be no City of Greater Sudbury without the mines and the jobs they created, the negative impacts of mining still loomed large in the forefront of peoples’ minds. Despite the many strides forward in regreening, safety, and technology, the image of mining being a dirty, dangerous, environmentally damaging, overwhelmingly male-dominated industry was hard to shake.
When the opportunity presented itself in 2012, the people around the table knew the conversation had to change to one that looked forward and presented mining not only for what it was – safer, more diverse, more innovative than ever – but what it would become.
“It’s funny that mining is considered such an ‘old-school’ practice, and it’s true that we’ve been doing it in one form or another for hundreds of years, but our modern world literally cannot run without the materials we mine,” explains Ms. Tardif. “We need mining – it cannot go away. But we also recognize that it has to be socially and environmentally responsible in order to attract the people who will keep the industry growing, innovating, and continuously improving its record.”
With forecasts saying Canada alone will need at least 90,000 people to enter mining and mining-related industries providing technology and support by 2030, MMTS chose to put the focus on reaching out to students in the area, to start a new conversation with them about different jobs, new technologies, and the opportunities in mining as a world-wide business, with some of them literally under their feet.
“What we found when we changed the direction was that people became more enthusiastic about engaging with us. This encouraged us to set new goals for what we hoped to achieve, improve our communication of these goals to the community and our partners in the mining business, plan bigger events, raise our sponsorship goals, etc., all of which allowed us to up the ante on the curriculum materials we could supply, which made people even more excited and generous, and so it went,” Tardif expounds.
Since its rebranding, MMTS has become a much anticipated annual event, holding its main activities at Dynamic Earth, but also publishing a magazine, and holding a fair at the mall where sponsors would engage with the community, allowing people to ask questions, and helping generate interest in local business.
For obvious reasons, MMTS had to switch gears with the arrival of Covid-19.
“We’re are all about the evolution of the mining business, how it has adapted to new realities, and innovated to do its job even better under stricter safety and environmental regulations, so it behooved us to switch gears and carry on,” say Tardif.
In response, MMTS has maximized its use of social media, using the tool effectively to share career profiles of young, dynamic individuals who are working in the mining industry, highlighting the diversity of the people, where and what they studied, and where they ended up. The idea is to demonstrate that there is a niche for almost every passion in the industry, and a diversity of jobs that are available to youth when they are considering their education.
“Kids don’t even necessarily have to want to pursue a career in mining, initially, but what we may highlight for them is, where do you start versus where do you end up? What transferable skills might you learn in one area that you can bring to a good job in mining? There are opportunities they may not consider – health and safety, nursing, indigenous relations, business/finance, design, exploration, service and supply, consulting, communications – it is virtually endless,” says MMTS Co-Chair Shannon Katary, herself a marketing and communications professional who found her way into mining-services years ago, and now works for one of the biggest mining companies in the world.
“It is an exciting time for MMTS. Because of social media, we can expand out further into the community, have people attached to the mining industry get involved virtually, share posts, talk to their kids, get the word out to parents, share resources about careers in mining and positive news about the industry. Mining is here to stay, and so are we,” affirms Tardif.
You can LIKE Modern Mining & Technology Sudbury’s page on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Instgram.
MMTS Week kicks off May 10th with the Virtual MineOpportunity Game open to all local school boards, with BIG new cash prizes up for grabs. Visit the page for more details: www.modernmining.ca.