Back to School Special Part 2: Goldcorp Helps Bring Mining Matters to the Youth of Ontario

Oct 10, 2014 10:30 AM ET

Above Ground

“When girls in Grade 5 are getting excited about rocks, you know you’re doing something right.”

Last week we provided an update on Goldcorp’s educational partnerships in Mexico. This week we share with you one youth outreach program we sponsor in Ontario, Canada.

Can you tell the difference between real gold and fool’s gold? Now more youth ages 8-20 in communities near Goldcorp’s Ontario operations can, thanks to the Mining Matters Mining Rocks Earth Science Program. Field trips, hands-on activities and unique educational programs teach youth about rocks, minerals, metals, mining, the mining industry and future employment opportunities. This year, Goldcorp sponsored four one-week Mining Rocks programs in the following communities: Wabauskang First Nation and Lac Seul First Nation near Red Lake Gold Mines, Mishkeegogamang First Nation and Pickle Lake near Musselwhite Mine and in Timmins where Porcupine Gold Mines is located. Goldcorp employees from all three mine sites were actively involved leading site tours and hosting career talks.

Bronwyn Gorsline, Goldcorp’s Coordinator of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Canada and US region, participated in her first Mining Rocks Earth Science program in Pickle Lake in early September. “I jumped at the opportunity to participate. The importance of engaging youth in programs that focus on education and future career opportunities cannot be emphasized enough.” states Gorsline.

Gorsline’s favourite activity from the program was ‘Polymetallic Cookie Mining’. In ‘Polymetallic Cookie Mining’, each participant is given a small investment of make-believe money to purchase their ‘mine’ (a rainbow chocolate chip cookie) and their ‘equipment’ (a toothpick or paper clip). On a piece of graph paper, the young miners chip away at their cookie, carefully removing the chocolate chips. Different coloured chocolate chips represent different types of raw materials, for example gold, iron and zinc and each have different values. The activity is timed and participants have to pay the mine’s operating costs based on the amount of time their mine was active. When time is up, participants are asked to draw a circle around all of the crumbs that they made. This circle represents the area that needs to be reclaimed; paying a fee based on the size of the area that needs to be reclaimed. At the end of the activity, participants are asked to calculate whether or not their mine was profitable.

“This exercise is fun and engaging. It teaches a key lesson about reclamation and environmental awareness. In the end, the vast majority of the participants’ mines did not make money after paying for reclamation,” she states. “It was wonderful to see the high level of interest that the youth had in geology, the environment and the mining life cycle.”

 “My favourite activity today was going in the field and mapping,” said one 13 year old student in Grade 8 from Pickle Lake.  A 17 year old Wabauskang First Nation participant said, “I think that this is an amazing program because you learn so much and you don't get bored.”

Mining Rocks sessions also cover topics such as rocks vs. minerals, physical properties of minerals and mystery mineral matching, crystal structure, rock types, mining cycle and methods of mining. In the lessons and activities, the teachers use rock and mineral samples that are found locally. Gorsline states, “The students were excited by the fact that the samples were local and collected their own outside at recess. When girls in Grade 5 are getting excited about rocks, you know you’re doing something right.” During the week-long program, participants also learn how to use a compass and a GPS.

“Mining Matters places great value on Goldcorp’s continued sponsorship of Earth Science education for Aboriginal youth and their strong commitment to community development. This partnership has been a cornerstone of our program for many years.” says Barbara Green Parker, Manager of Aboriginal Education and Outreach Programs.

Terry Bursey, Aboriginal & Community Affairs Coordinator, Goldcorp Red Lake Gold Mines comments, “Goldcorp is a proud sponsor of the Mining Matters program aimed at teaching Aboriginal youth about geology, the mining industry and potential future employment choices.  These types of programs are tremendously important in building strong sustainable partnerships which foster future employees, leaders and awareness of our operations.  The participants showed such enthusiasm and passion, it was truly inspiring!”

Our students couldn’t agree more. 

“I loved everything and can’t wait for you to come back!” exclaimed a 12 year old Grade 7 student from Pickle Lake.

Congratulations to Mining Matters, the Goldcorp CSR teams and all of the participants on another successful season of programs. To learn more about Mining Matters please visit their website: or email