Mining Day on way amid sector optimism

Mayor Ken Boshcoff has declared June 15 as Mining Day in Thunder Bay, citing the economic importance of the industry to the community and Northwestern Ontario.
Boshcoff made the proclamation with a flag raising outside city hall on Thursday, leading into the ninth annual Mining Day festival at Marina Park this Saturday.
"We want to let the whole industry and all the support systems know how much we appreciate the fact that the mining boom is alive, well and booming," Boshcoff said. "The community appreciates the new people moving here, setting up offices and all the activity in terms of building, renovations, new facilities, transportation, and all it will mean to our education systems."
The mayor said he is "very concerned" about the current depreciation of lithium and that the city must do more to make it easier for investors and people who are considering building processing plants in the area.
"I want to really emphasize that the council is solidly behind, encouraging them and I know that there have been a lot of delays," he said.
"We have some distance issues and some infrastructural issues but there's no doubt about which way the world is going. I'd like to apologize for the city's delay in some of these things but we will get these things ironed out and things moving."
Pam Coles, the chief geophysicist and co-owner of Abitibi Geophysics and director of the Northwestern Ontario Prospectors Association, said it's typical of the industry to go through cycles of peak times and then drop off, and says she has seen that happen at least four times in the last 15 years.
"It really depends on a lot of things, commodity prices and investors and how appealing it is to work in a given area," she said. "There are a lot of factors that affect it."
"It'll come back around and it's already . . . ramping up a little bit."
Coles said Mining Day has grown from 45 exhibitors last year to more than 60 this year.
Apart from the many hands-on learning and education activities, she said it's a chance to engage people at the high school level to let them know about career opportunities in the mining industry.
Tracy Kitchkeesick, chairwoman of Women in Mining, will be on hand at the event with her team to provide their annual fundraising barbecue.
"Our Northwestern Ontario branch has been here 10 years supporting women in mining by encouraging the younger generation to get involved with it through community outreach, and our scholarship program," Kitchkeesick said.
The organization relies on the support of its industry sponsors and any money raised through the barbecue to support the scholarship program. The organization's first scholarship was in the amount of $1,000, and in 2023, they presented five $3,000 scholarships to women heading into careers in the mining industry.
"Mining is never going away," she said.
Mining Day will take place at Marina Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal