A new, hands-on program training program is responding to B.C.’s hiring needs in the mining and exploration industry.
Northwest Community College School of Exploration & Mining (NWCC SEM) delivered a pilot Mineral Processing Operator (MPO) program in Houston, B.C. September 2 – November 28, 2014. The MPO program is industry focused and included an on-site experience at an operating mine, several mine-site tours, and tutorials from industry professionals. Two graduates from the program have already been hired at Imperial Metal’s Red Chris mine.
“Imperial Metals believes programs like the Mineral Processor Operator program will benefit the mining industry by addressing skills shortages in British Columbia. Programs like this help people develop some of the fundamental skills to enter the industry and can serve as a bridge for those looking to change industries,” says Doug McFee, Administration Manager, Red Chris Mine. “Hiring three graduates from the MPO program at Red Chris proves that graduates from this program are well-trained and job-ready.”
Six students were part of the 12-week intensive program that equips graduates with the knowledge and skills to be employed as mineral processing operators and to work safely at a mine site. Training aligns with the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) National Occupational Standards and can lead to nation-wide recognized certification under the Canadian Mining Credentials Certificate program.
“I liked everything about the MPO program!” says Nina Trbic, a graduate of the program who recently got hired at Red Chris mine. “I liked that we were able to go on field trips and also have industry speakers come into the classroom and share their knowledge. We learned lots about the mineral processes so that we are job-ready and prepared.”
The MPO program is responding to the MiHR defined skills shortage that places mineral and metal processing operators as a top occupation in terms of hiring requirements; over 2,000 job openings are estimated by 2020. With two operating mines currently in Northwest B.C. and Imperial Metal’s Red Chris mine set to open this fall, mineral processing operators
“This type of hands-on learning is key to giving students a taste of what it is like to work in the field and to better prepare them for real-world scenarios,” says NWCC President & CEO, Ken Burt. “Partnerships that result in more relevant experience for our students are critical for their successful transition into the workforce.”