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VIDEO: Educators tour Harrison-area mine, hope to spark industry interest

Enrollment in mining-related sciences low in B.C.

A group of mining veterans are looking to shed light on opportunities in an overlooked industry, right under B.C.’s collective nose.

Bear Mountain Gold Mines CEO Carl von Einsiedel hosted a small group of educators from the Lower Mainland to visit the Harrison Hot Springs-area mine and to learn more about the potentially lucrative career opportunities the mining industry can offer.

The educators came from both K-12 schools as well as area colleges.

von Einsiedel has been working on his mining venture in the Harrison area since 2012. He said there is a steady decline in enrollments in geology-related programs, which could create a significant problem for the industry in B.C., despite the presence of well-paying jobs, even at entry level.

RELATED: Local miner eyes Bear Mountain for gold

“There are multiple new mines that are scheduled to come on stream in B.C. over the next few years,” von Einsiedel said. “And the mining companies, you’re just going to end up recruiting from other provinces and from other countries to staff those positions.”

“It’s unfortunate that our students don’t know about these opportunities that are high paying really cool and like can be careers,” said Jason Courneyea. He is the executive director for MineralsEd, an educational group dedicated to earth science. “It’s kind of important that we make sure that students are aware of this opportunity. It’s not for everybody, but, the people that it’s for, love it.”

Derek Turner, earth and environmental sciences chair at Douglas College, said the Harrison-area mine was the closest active mine that students and faculty could access from the Lower Mainland. This could be done in a day trip and was considerably closer than the alternatives of Kamloops or Princeton.

“I’m interested in promoting sustainable mining, positive impacts mining can have on society and the history and impact of mining in our province, a lot of stuff that the public doesn’t always appreciate or understand all that well,” Turner told The Observer. “Being able to bring teachers out to engage with, talk to (miners), go into a mine and see the importance and the history of the local mine…it’s right on the nose of what we’re trying to do.”

Turner said much of the lack of interest in geology and mining may stem from its relatively small place in the K to 12 curriculum.

“There’s a bit of a stigma, I think that still exists that it’s ‘rocks for jocks,’” he said. “It’s maybe not a thorough science like physics or chemistry, but the reality is there are a lot of jobs in mining and geology. (Geologists) are highly employable in this province; it’s one of the backbones of our province, our economy.”

Even if students don’t directly set out to go into the mining industry, Turner said that they flourish once they get there.

“I honestly think our province, at every level, has under-served the students by not exposing them to the fact that this is a viable career opportunity for them,” Turner added.

According to the Centre of Training Excellence in Mining (CTEM), the country’s mining industry will near 30,000 new workers in the next five years. There are about 120 potential careers in the industry, according to CTEM, which span a wide range from software development and engineering to truck driving and, of course, geologists.

von Einsiedel researched the historic RN gold mine in the area, which was established decades ago, operating back in the 1970s. Though the small mine reaped about $500 to $600 million worth of gold in today’s money, von Einsiedel believes there to be “significant gold reserves” yet to be tapped. He hopes by utilizing laser sorter technology, he can tap into the veins of quartz and gold and mine more efficiently.

von Einsiedel acknowledged that mining is a delicate subject around the province and in the Harrison area in particular. This is due in no small part to the proposed quarry, which would have been located on Hot Springs Road. Residents vehemently opposed the quarry, citing a long list of significant environmental and economic concerns. A three-year battle to stop the quarry ended in December 2020 after the senior inspector of mines Jim Dunkley made a decision not to issue a Mines Act permit for 3628 Hot Springs Road.

von Einsiedel remains confident he can work with locals to address any environmental or other impact concerns that might surface.

Learn more about the local mine online at

About the Author: Adam Louis

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