Wednesday, June 6, 2007

International delegates explore mining; Spending week in North Bay

Local News - Friday, June 01, 2007

Mining officials are going to be bringing the lessons they learned in North Bay to exploration drilling sites around the world.

Atlas Copco in North Bay has been hosting 15 international delegates from as far away as Kenya, Mongolia, Egypt, China and Sweden this week, during a product training session, "to train the trainers," said Peter Balen, Atlas Copco's local product manager for drilling tools.

"We're here to learn and become the experts when we go back home," said Evans Mabeya of Kenya, an Atlas Copco employee who represents the company in 13 African countries.

Balen said the city was a logical place to host the weeklong hands-on training session because of the importance of the wealth of knowledge here.

"What we're trying to do is enlighten them (the 15 international delegates) on the whole process of mineral exploration," Balen said, noting the delegates are mainly salespeople for the Sweden-based company but also serve as technical consultants for the products they sell.

"Historically, North Bay was the logistical centre for Canada's mining industry . . . But with time, we've developed an incredible pool of intellect and resources that have positioned North Bay as the centre of the exploration industry for the globe."

But it wasn't all work. The delegates got to have some fun, including a cruise on the Chief Commanda II.

"It's been brilliant, really. We couldn't have asked for better weather. The whole week's been structured really well," said Colin Farenden, an Atlas Copco employee from London, England. "And it's great because everything here (in North Bay) seems to revolve around the mining industry. Everyone seems to be involved in one way or another."

Mayor Vic Fedeli said the mining industry is important to the city, noting there are 39 companies in the mining business operating out of North Bay. And it's great, he added, to be able to show off North Bay as a mining centre and as a "beautiful city" to international travellers.

And with the mining industry booming, said Balen, North Bay's position as a mining centre of excellence could grow. In fact, in April, Atlas Copco announced plans to build a new 7,000-square-metre manufacturing plant in the city that will result in seven new workers being hired.

Over the next 10 years, the mining industry in Canada alone will have to hire 81,000 new workers to replace those retiring and to meet the demand for growth, Balen said. And the demand for workers in the industry includes tool manufacturers, engineers and medical staff.

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