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GN encourages prospecting
Introductory course offers all the necessary basics

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Eleven people gathered in a classroom in Rankin Inlet last week to learn about prospecting.

NNSL photo/graphic

Mike Beauregard, resident geologist with the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Division of the Department of Economic Development and Transportation based in Arviat, with student Rebekka Sanguin, observe a smashed rock to determine if it contains anything of interest to a prospector during the Introduction to Prospecting course held in Rankin Inlet July 13 to 18. - Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

Mike Beauregard, resident geologist with the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Division of the Department of Economic Development and Transportation based in Arviat, taught the course.

"It's an introduction to prospecting," said Beauregard.

"But it's also an introduction to mining. It also introduces the prospecting grant that's available here."

Possible prospectors are joined in the week-long course by people who may simply want to go "rock-hounding."

"I call them rock-huggers," he said.

Alide Sanguin is a self-confessed rock-hugger.

"I just love rocks. They're very beautiful to me. I pick them up and carry them home. So do my children. And I thought it would be nice to go prospecting with my family," she says.

Sanguin convinced her husband and daughter Rebekka to join her in taking the course, although it doesn't sound like they needed much convincing.

"I said yes right away," says Rebekka. "I really like rocks and it would be really cool to go prospecting."

Beauregard says people in communities, because they go out on the land so much, will collect fossils or anything different they see.

"And then they hang on to them until someone comes along to help them identify them."

Joseph Curley, taking the course with his father, says he does "a lot of travelling all across the Arctic."

"My dad introduced me to it. It's a matter of interest, now. Not sure beyond that."

And Jacob Aupilardjuk says an instructor in trade school introduced him to prospecting.

"I became interested in learning more about minerals."

Aupilardjuk adds he might be interested in pursuing prospecting further.

Introduction to Prospecting goes around a third of the communities every summer, rotating through every third year, which means the course has been delivered almost 100 times. Beauregard figures there are between 700 to 800 people certified.

The week-long course takes place over five classroom evenings and all day Saturday out on the land.

Beauregard says Rankin Inlet, along with Whale Cove and Kimmirut, is a perfect place for prospecting.

"You step out the door and there's good black volcanic rock. Every place else you have to do some travelling. Rankin Inlet has had a fair bit of exposure to prospecting."

The course introduces rocks, minerals and earth science.

"We try to keep it to the basics. And because everything leads to the mining, we go into what a person living here can take advantage of. They can keep plugging at it."

Beauregard says there a number of people in the territory who have been plugging away at prospecting for decades.

"Usually people who are into prospecting keep a fairly low profile. Their names might pop up because you'll see them staking claims. What we don't usually hear about until it hits the papers is the successes. The sapphire find in Kimmirut, for instance."

According to Beauregard, the chances of finding anything are one in 1,000.

The course also looks at topographical maps, Google Earth, GPS, how to stake a claim, how to bag and tag and get rocks assayed.

"The course tries to find the middle course to try and give local prospectors as much incentive and direction as possible," he said.

"Nunavut has its difference. For the most part people do not prospect alone. You have people with you. There's a good reason for that. What you see down south in terms of prospecting doesn't really apply up here. It's usually a lead person with an assistant or two."

In fact, the GN's prospectors' program awards $8,000 grants each year.

"This financial support applies to project-related expenses such as fuel, vehicle maintenance, food allowance while in the field, assistant wages, prospecting supplies, and mineral assay costs," according to the website.

Introduction to Prospecting, open and free to all Nunavummiut, will be taught in Baker Lake Aug. 17 to 22.

"We want to see people out banging on rocks, looking at rocks, gold-panning."

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