VANCOUVER — Despite tough times, it seems the mining sector recognizes a valuable charity when it sees one.
In 2013 the Society of Economic Geologists Canada Foundation (SEGCF) raised $211,250 in corporate donations to support students of economic geology. Gerry Carlson, president of the SEGCF, thinks the generosity makes sense.
“Mineral exploration is expensive and high risk, so companies need to apply the best science and the best minds to ensure they maximize their return on investment with their exploration dollars,” Carlson said.
Economic geologists are arguably the foundation of mineral exploration, and so the SEGCF was established in 2000 to support students of economic geology to help new, well-educated mineral explorers. The idea came from south of the border, where the U.S. Society of Economic Geologists has supported students and research in economic geology to the tune of $2.5 million since its inception in 1996.
The SEGCF’s goal is to raise enough funds to finance a meaningful program of research grants in economic geology for Canadian students. And while it takes time to establish an endowment, the foundation has met that bar now.
In 13 years the SEGCF has raised $1.2 million in contributions, with 80% coming from Canadian mining companies and the rest from individual donors. The foundation has given out $520,000 in awards to students of economic geology. Most were graduate students, with the money supporting thesis fieldwork, though in the last two years the foundation has also offered small grants to undergraduate students to help with thesis work.
The new scholarships were possible because Canadian issuers and individuals have been consistently generous. Neil Adshead, a director with SEGCF, says that despite the rough markets, more than 40 companies have written cheques or donated shares. He said the charity has not struggled to prove its merit, especially when the pitch goes to corporate exploration managers, many of whom have been the beneficiaries of scholarships and grants during their educations.
The list of contributors includes major mining companies like Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: ABX), Kinross Gold (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC) and Teck Resources (TSX: TCK.B; NYSE: TCK); mid-sized miners like Imperial Metals (TSX: III; US-OTC: IPMLF), Capstone Mining (TSX: CS; US-OTC: CSFFF), Lundin Mining (TSX: LUN; US-OTC: LUNCF) and Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX: AEM; NYSE: AEM); and explorers like Almaden Minerals (TSX: AMM; NYSE-MKT: AAU), Mawson Resources (TSX: MAW) and Northern Graphite (TSXV: GPH; US-OTC: GPHOF).
All want to support economic geology and the study of ore deposits.
“Economic geologists are the foundation of the mineral-exploration industry,” Adshead said. “They are essential to modern society too. All mines are depleting assets. Metals and minerals will become scarce without mineral exploration, resulting in commodity-price inflation and the erosion of living standards globally.”
As he points out, attracting high-calibre students into the field of economic geology “produces the smart exploration geologists who will help the industry be more effective in making cost-effective mineral discoveries, which will become the mines of the future.”
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