Blog

  • Minerals In Your Home-French!

     

    November 27, 2018

    Les minéraux dans votre maison (Minerals in Your Home)

    Both the Intermediate and Primary versions of MineralsEd's Minerals in Your Home activity book have recently been translated into French! Follow this link to our virtual library to dowloand a copy to share with your students.

    MineralsEd's other activity books, "I am an Exploration Geologist," I am an Environmental Scientist, and "I am a Mining Engineer," are also available for download in multiple languages.

    For teachers: Class sets of activity books are available for order under our orders page. MineralsEd will cover the cost to print the books, but we do require the cost of shipping to be covered by the purchaser. To avoid paying for postage, class sets can be picked up at the MineralsEd office--prior to visiting the office, please place the order and e-mail info@mineralsed.ca to ensure copies of the books are available.


  • Roxie Giles - 5th Annual Harbour Cruise

     

    October 16, 2018

    (MineralsEd Partner Teachers, from left to right: Roxie Giles, Bruce Kiloh, and Patty Kiloh)

     

    This year we celebrate the 5th anniversary of hosting the Natural Resources in Vancouver Harbour Cruise! This unique Professional Development opportunity takes teachers a boat tour of the port to give them a view of this natural resource hub via industry expert representatives. Roxie Giles, a MineralsEd Partner Teacher, in her 5th year of helping host the event and has shared her thoughts on the day.

    -------

    As a retired teacher, I very much recall Pro-D experiences. The one provided by MineralsEd stands alone -not only is it “one of a kind”, it's one of the finest. MineralsEd does many things well, but “blowing their own horn” is not one, so I have asked this press release come your way. Thank you for supporting this annual event.

    Sincerely Roxie Giles Retired Teacher, SD # 45 (West Vancouver)

     

    On Friday, October 19th, 40,000 teachers throughout the province will be studying ways to implement new curriculum, engaging in dialogue with fellow educators, and promoting their desire to continue to be life-long learners. Sixty of these teachers will be charting a new learning curve as they participate in the MineralsEd field trip – the Natural Resources in Vancouver Harbour Cruise. Aboard the Harbour Princess these teachers will learn directly from people working in the waterfront operations in Burrard Inlet about their important work in the Port of Vancouver.

    For the past 5 years, MineralsEd, an educational organization dedicated to Earth Science, mineral resources and mining education in school has organized this unique professional development opportunity. Thirteen representatives from harbour operations and the Port of Vancouver will join this group of elementary and secondary school teachers on the 4 hour tour, introducing teachers, many for the first time, to BC’s and Canada’s natural resources and resource industries and the importance of the port in global trade.

    The aim is to dialogue with teachers, sharing where the resources come from, what they are used for, where they are being shipped, and the impact of these resources on the economy. With this chance to see first- hand and ask questions on the spot, the teachers digest and take this information and insight back into their classrooms to be shared with students.


  • Summer Cool Down

     

    August 23, 2018

    Summer is winding down and the start date for the 2018/2019 school year is in sight! All summer long, our team has been gearing up to support teachers and students throughout the upcoming school year.

    Our team collected samples throughout the summer, across the Lower Mainland. Whether it was going out to Abbotsford to dig for sandstone and conglomerate at Kilgard Quarry, or up to North Van to hunt for granite, we have been on the move.

    MineralsEd team member, Tea, has been hard at work washing, breaking to size, labeling, and bagging all of these rock samples. The rock samples become part of the kits we supply to teachers in our professional development workshops. Physical rocks to see, scratch, and sniff are especially helpful for tactual-kinesthetic learners and connect units on geosciences and mining to a tangible item.

    In the name of Earth Sciences, Tea has processed over 120 support packages full of posters, books, and other resources; 132 rock kits consisting of 4,032 rock samples. Beyond rock processing, Tea has prepared all the products that support our workshops and field trips for the upcoming school year.

    We wish all the best for Tea as she enters her second year at SFU in Earth Sciences! She truly is a Rock Star!


  • Thank you, Teachers and Rockin' Summer Activities

     

    June 29, 2018

    Teachers, as the 2017/2018 year comes to a close, MineralsEd would like to say thank you for your continued efforts to educate youth and prepare them for the future. Thank you for sharing your gift of teaching with students across BC!

    As BC teachers take a break for the summer, students are gearing up for some rockin' summer fun! Take a look at our list of summer activities.

    Learn more about mining on a visit to Britannia Mine Museum​.

    Last century, it was a working mine. Now, it's a national historic site and museum, turning out awe-inspiring sights and memorable family experiences. So much to see and do. Rumble aboard the mine train as it rolls into the dark. Learn from their fantastic tour guides! Pan for gold!

    Take a hike and look at the geology along the way.

    No matter where you are in the world, you can observe and learn more about the local natural history by looking at the rocks. Go on a hike and bring your handlens so you can look up close at the mountain outcrops along the way as well as the small pebbles beneath your feet.

    Soak up some sun while collecting and classifying rocks at the beach.

    Explore the wide variety of pebbles you can find along a beach! Use "A Field Guide to the Identification of Pebbles" by Eileen Van der Flier-Keller, found at your local Chapters. This waterproof guide has photos to help identify over 28 different types of rocks.

    Go on your own building stone tour.

    Take a walk in your neighbourhood or your downtown to explore the rocks used to build or face buildings and walls. If you are in downtown Vancouver, take along a copy of our Downtown Vancouver Geotour Guide.

    Highland Valley Copper Mine Tour & Open House

    Highland Valley Copper will host a celebration for their 32nd Anniversary on August 6th! This is a family day showcasing the operations, with informational displays and entertainment. All summer long, Highland Valley Copper will have free public mine tours on Wednesdays at 10am.

    Collect and recycle home electronics.

    Check your cupboards and closets! Your old cellphones, old VHS players, broken hand mixer, and electric razor are all made of minerals from the Earth. Get Earth concious and gather these items up to take to your local recycling depot.

    Travel to Barkerville to learn about BC mining!

    Learn about life in a thriving mining town in BC’s early days and first gold rush. With a unique streetscape of 125+ heritage buildings, authentic displays, satellite museums, restaurants, shops and accommodations there is so much to explore! Visit the Barkerville website for daily programming and summer events.


  • Sustainability Sunday - Reclamation Activity

     

    June 18, 2018

    Yesterday we joined various outreach organizations to participate in a public fair for RFG 2018's Sustainability Sunday.

    MineralsEd shared information on mine reclamation using an interactive copper mine model.

    In the first photo you can see our open pit mine, up and running! There are access roads, a pit, a mill, a waste rock dump, and a tailings pond. We reviewed the mining and milling process from blasting and hauling, to the separation of concentrate from tailings by flotation.

    Once the mine's ore body was depleted, we closed the mine and reclaimed the site. In the second photo you see the site restored to a more natural state to be used for wildlife habitat and recreation: 1. the buildings are removed, 2. the waste rock pile is covered with soil and re-vegetated, 3. the pit fills with ground and surface water, 4. the perimeter of the tailings pond is re-vegetated, fish are introduced, and water wells are tested for seepage, 5. a bird house is placed to encourage small birds 6. trees are placed upside down trees to provide predatory bird roosting.

    To support the visitors, we provided copies of our activity book, "I am an Environmental Scientist" which you can find on our website at, https://mineralsed.ca/learning-resources/student-resources/mineralsed-career-series-books/


  • Modern Mining in the Classroom - An industry partnership with Canadian Mineral Processors

     

    May 31, 2018

    As spring comes to a close, so does this year's round of Modern Mining in the Classroom.

    This is the 4th year that the BC branch of the Canadian Mineral Processors (CMP) has championed and enlisted members as speakers for an in-the-classroom, outreach initiative. We successfully arranged industry guest speakers to share their expertise at 11 different Lower Mainland schools, reaching some 440 elementary students who are learning about mining or mineral resources. Since 2015 this industry partnership program has reached over 1,840 students.

    Guest speakers do an engaging presentation on the mining process and talk about the nature of their own work in mining. They also demonstrate both froth flotation and magnetic separation--techniques that are used to recover different metals. This reinforces and enhances what the students are learning through their units.

    Teachers and students appreciate meeting and learning from these “miners”, and the CMP volunteers enjoy the opportunity to share with the students.

    This program is offered at no cost to the class, and we look forward to resuming this partnership program in the spring of 2019.


  • 9th Annual BC Mining Month Community Fair - Western Canadian Coal

     

    May 17, 2018

    On May 16th we held our annual BC Mining Month Community Fair in Vancouver that was attended by nearly 550 students from Lower Mainland schools. More than 80 industry volunteers staffed the exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on activities, each and every one of them enjoying the opportunity to share with youth what they know about and love. Thank you to the teachers and parent volunteers for venturing out of the classroom for this special learning opportunity. See what our volunteers and industry partner, Western Canadian Coal, had to say about the Fair, below!



    May 17, 2018

    Written by Melanie MacKay, P.Geo

    President at Western Canadian Coal Society, Coal Quality Specialist, Director at Ridley Terminals Inc.

    May is BC Mining Month, and annual celebration of the importance of the modern mining industry to British Columbians. Details on what was happening around our province can be found at http://events.mining.bc.ca/. Volunteers from the Western Canadian Coal Society spent May 16th with MineralsEd at the BC Mining Month Community Fair in Vancouver, the second year we have been a part of this educational Fair for youth

    The Community Fair was held at the Creekside Community Centre in Vancouver. It is geared toward elementary school students and we saw upwards of 525 students attend the fair this year. MineralsEd organized the event which hosted 30 learning stations on topics including mine reclamation, froth flotation, paleontology, mineral exploration, and assaying to name a few.

    For those who don't know - MineralsEd (Mineral Resources Education Program of BC) was created to assist teachers in their development of educational materials to support teaching about minerals, mining and geoscience in the classroom. MineralsEd's goals are to foster a well-informed public through school education based on accurate and balanced minerals information, and to stimulate young peoples' interest in minerals industry careers.

    The WCCS hosted a station where we taught students how coal is formed, where coal is mined in BC, typical uses of coal (Thermal and Metallurgical), ingredients used in the steel-making process and coal exports. Most students knew that coal was used for heating or in power generation, but NONE of them knew that it was used to make steel. We had a great day teaching about iron and steelmaking. Manning the WCCS directors, Mike Allen and Melanie Mackay. North Coal's Dave Thompson taught visitors at the Diamond Drilling station about exploring the subsurface for a deposit. Guy GIlron manned part of the Sustainablity Station, introducing students to what mine site reclamation entails.

    Above photo, from left to right; Guy Gilron, MSc, RPBio, ICD.D (Borealis Environmental Consulting Inc.); Mike Allen (Norwest Corporation); Melanie MacKay, P.Geo (Trillium Geoscience Ltd.); Adriana Matesoi (Independant); Dave Thompson (North Coal Limited), P.Geo.

    What we discovered was that children, even at the grade 7 level, have no preconceived ideas that mining is bad. They don't think that 'coal is dirty'. It's lovely to teach them about our industry because they are open to learning and have not yet been swayed by anti-mining groups or environmentalist campaigns. If ever there is a place to advocate for our industry this is the place. I should also add - these students are the future generations of environmental scientists, chemists, geologists, engineers, drillers, truck operators, and blasters.

    We are truly lucky that MineralsEd exists. They are an unbiased resource where teachers can obtain up-to-date, technically correct resources to facilitate the teaching of mining and minerals in the classroom. What’s great for us as a mining community is that the future 'public' is getting educated, resulting in the best advocacy we could ask for.

    Thank you MineralsEd, specifically Sheila Stenzel, for a fantastically organized event!


  • What do you learn when you visit a mine?

     

    November 23, 2017

    It was my great pleasure to accompany a group of 22 secondary teachers from Lower Mainland and Okanagan schools on a tour of Copper Mountain Mine near Princeton in mid-October, a tour organized by MineralsEd for teacher professional development. The day was full of unforgettable experiences – sitting in the cab of a haul truck, getting a near bird's eye view of the pit and travelling right into it to observe the large mining equipment, watching a blast, touring the mill, and learning about the people and their jobs. One of the special and unexpected moments was the reunion of DW Poppy teacher, Rory Allen, with a former student, Renee Gould, now a metallurgist at the mine. Teachers never know where they will cross paths with their former students!

    Our group saw and learned many important facts about the Copper Mountain operation during our four hour visit.

    • Mining has gone on this area for nearly 100 years. The current mine was built in two years at a cost of $435 million, and opened in 2011.
    • More than 38,000 tonnes of ore are put through the mill every day; the ore is .2-.3% copper and contains gold and silver. The copper price is just above $3.00/lb, and the mining to market costs less than that, but not a great deal. Electricity to run the mill 24-7 is the greatest operating cost - $2.5 million per month.
    • The ore is related to ancient volcanism, hosted in island arc rocks emplaced onto North America and forming part of BC in the Mesozoic. Blasting in the pit is done at least once a day. There is a final 10 second countdown before the blast, and complete radio silence in the last 5 seconds.
    • The ore is very hard. To improve mill operations, the ore is crushed twice before it enters the mill. The mill is very NOISY. The overall milling process is quite straightforward: grind, float, dewater, dry, but there are many circuits in the mill to ensure the most effective recovery of copper concentrate and precious metals associated with it.
    • Every day, 8 to 10, double-trailer trucks haul copper concentrate to Vancouver Wharves in North Vancouver for shipment to a smelter in Japan.

    As interesting and as important, was what we learned about the people who work at Copper Mountain. Their workforce comes from all over. This 24/7 operation employs ~430 people with an annual payroll is ~$50 million. The majority are trades, technicians, labourers or equipment operators; the majority are men. There are many opportunities to work your way up at the mine. Apprenticeship programs at Copper Mountain are promoted and well-supported, and offered to committed employees with a desire to develop specific skills.

    Among the many people we met and who spoke to us on the tour:

    •  
      Peter knows the regional geology well; he worked at the previous mine on the mountain, Similco, which closed in 1996 and has been on the team that brought this new mine into production.
    • Patrick, an engineer, hails from Sweden, but has worked elsewhere in BC and at Copper Mountain since it started up. (His wife is a school teacher in Princeton, attending the Super Conference in Vancouver that day.)
    • Russell, a young HD mechanic originally from Smithers, was happy to see our group visit the machine shop and tour the mine. He is concerned that people in the cities don’t know much about mining and don’t think it is important.
    • Sarah, one of the fulltime equipment operators, is also trained as the Dispatch for all the mobile equipment that is tracked by GPS and monitored via a single large screen in a room far from the pit.
    • Rob, a seasoned mining veteran who drove our tour bus, travelled worldwide with his family for his work in mining and is now the mobile equipment trainer at Copper Mountain.
    • Tanya, a young woman who had worked in a mine in the Kootenays before moving to Princeton, is a full time Hydraulic Shovel operator, but worked relief as the Lead Hand in the pit that day.
    • Kenny, one of three young men who shepherded us through the mill, is now one of the Mill Supervisors, having worked “from the bottom up”, as he put it, since the mine opened.
    • Don, the VP Operations, is a Newfoundlander whose path to mining began with a teenage interest in the metallurgy of mountain bike frames. His career has taken him many places, and he is proud of the Copper Mountain operation and all it contributes. He sincerely asked the teachers “what can we do to get young people interested in mining careers”, which sparked many constructive ideas.

    They were all good people doing honourable work in a work place that is not familiar to almost everyone else. They come from different backgrounds and home towns, but become part of a team that contributes to the safe, efficient and productive operation of the mine. Change a few words, and the same can be said for the teachers who visited that day.


  • Lapis Lazuli, symbol of truth, wisdom and friendship

     

    October 3, 2017

    Lapis Lazuli is perhaps one of the most beautiful names for one of the most beautiful gemstones on Earth, and those words simply mean ‘blue stone”. Lapis lazuli is not a mineral, but rather a deep blue metamorphic rock that is made up mainly of the blue mineral lazurite, plus calcite and pyrite, which gives it its sparkle. In nature Lapis Lazuli occurs most commonly in association with marble that has been deformed and altered through contact metamorphism, that is, when carbonates are in contact with heat and fluids associated with an igneous intrusion.

    Lapis Lazuli has caught the eye of humankind and been used for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptions created amulets from Lapis, and ground it for blue pigment for cosmetics. Cylinder seals made from Lapis were created by Assyrians and Babylonians. More than 6,000 beautifully executed lapis lazuli statuettes of birds, deer and rodents as well as dishes, beads and cylinder seals have been found in the Ancient Royal Sumerian tombs of Ur in Iraq.

    Today, the finest quality Lapis Lazuli is mined in Afghanistan. It is primarily used to make sculptures and is cut and polished into cabochons, set in silver or gold and made into bracelets, necklaces and earrings. It is considered a symbol of friendship and is the commemorative stone for the 9th wedding anniversary.

    Learn more!

    Gem Select

    Gemology Institute of America

    International Gemological Institute


  • The Most Common Mineral on Earth

     

    September 13, 2017

    Did you know that the most abundant minerals in Earth’s crust are feldspars? That is a significant fact and so worth understanding more about them.

    Feldspar refers to a group of silicate minerals that contain different ratios of the elements potassium, sodium, and calcium in combination with silicon and oxygen. Feldspar is a main ingredient in granite (orange crystals in the polished sample, right) but it is common in all three main rock types. Depending on their composition, feldspars range in colour from pinkish orange to white, grey, green, blue and black. They are all light weight, very hard, shiny and break in two prominent cleavage directions.

    Some varieties of feldspar are semi-precious gems. One that is special to Canada is Labradorite, named for its occurrence in Labrador. It is bluish-black or greenish-black, and displays a beautiful iridescence (middle photo, right).

    Large deposits of gabbro containing this beautiful mineral are commonly called (but not properly named) black granite. It is quarried for decorative facing stone on buildings and countertops (bottom photo, right).

    Run of the mill feldspar is mined in many places all over the world, extracted from granites, pegmatites and certain sandstones. It is considered an industrial mineral that is used in the manufacture of glass, in ceramic glazes, paints, and a host of other familiar materials we use every day.

    Learn more:

    Feldspar 

    Industrial Mineral Association-North America


  • The Importance of Moly

     

    August 30, 2017

    Molybdenite – moly for short - is another essential mineral. Its key ingredient is the element molybdenum (Mo) that is combined with sulphur. Molybdenite commonly occurs with other metal sulphides, especially copper. A number of metal mines in BC produce moly concentrate.

    Moly is silvery grey, very soft, like graphite, and slippery. No surprise that it is useful as a lubricant, particularly in high temperature applications, such as big engines. Surprisingly, moly added to steel improves the alloy's strength, toughness, resistance to wear and corrosion, and hardness.

    Molybdenum is also essential to all life. Bolstering food production, molybdenum is used by bacteria in soil to turn nitrogen into a form that plants can use to promote healthy growth and better crop production. In humans and other animals, molybdenum is an essential trace element, part of specific enzymes involved in metabolism of protein, detoxifying cells of sulfite, and other processes.

    We get the molybdenum we need through our food. Good sources of molybdenum in our diets are leafy vegetables and legumes. The molybdenum in those foods and many others, comes from the breakdown of moly minerals, like molybdenite, in the soil.

    Learn more:

    International Molybdenum Association

    Molybdenum, the Chemical Element

    Mo - Periodic Table Video

    Molybdenum Enzymes 

     


  • A Mineral We Cannot Live Without

     

    August 16, 2017
    Sphalerite crystals on dolomite.

    If there was ever a mineral that we cannot live without it is sphalerite! Its key ingredient is the element zinc. Zinc, also known as the great protector, has many uses, the most familiar being as a coating of steel to prevent it from rusting. But zinc oxide is also an ingredient in sunscreen and diaper ointment, and zinc is alloyed with copper to make brass.

    Zinc is essential to all living things, including us. It is used to generate cells, to make our bones and organs grow, and to develop healthy functioning brains. We ingest zinc in our food – especially things like meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and dairy. Whether we eat plants or animals, the zinc ultimately comes from minerals broken down in the soil.

    The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion people do not have enough zinc in their diets because their diets are mostly plant-based and/or the soils in the region are zinc poor. Many organizations are partnering with zinc-producers, including Vancouver-based Teck Resources, to provide zinc therapies and supplements to those in need, to add zinc to fertilizers to improve poor soils, and to fortify food products, such flour and rice, to improve nutrition and health around the world.

    Zinc Oxide & You 

    International Zinc Association

    Zinc and Health