The grand opening ceremony for Northlands College Mine School, with Toby Greschner, Bronwyn Eyre, Deborah Charles, and Al Shpyth. Photo by Braden Malsbury.

It’s estimated 30 to 40 people will graduate each year from the new Northlands College Mine School.

The school had its grand opening in Air Ronge on Wednesday, with Advanced Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre among the 60 or more people present during opening remarks.

The college’s President and CEO Toby Greschner acknowledges this opening comes in the midst of a mining downturn in what he calls a cyclical industry.

“We’re in a bit of valley right now but we know that it’s going to come back so we have to be able to train and be ready for when that comeback happens. So as students may right now think that there aren’t that many opportunities in the field, we know it’ll come back,” he said.

He said they will be able to adapt programming offerings and class size “depending on what the demand is from the industry.”

The new school was made possible with money from a number of sources, including $1.8 million from the Saskatoon-based International Minerals Innovation Institute.

Executive Director Al Shpyth, said as a member of the mining industry, the institute felt it was important to help enhance education capacity.

He said they hope to see “improved access for northerners to mine education and through that, to mining careers” especially considering Saskatchewan is currently the number two mining jurisdiction in Canada.

“The industry needs skilled people and if they come from the north, that’s a great thing,” he said.

The school will have four training streams, including three certifications and one diploma. They are civil technician, industrial mechanic (millright), power engineering technician, and mine engineering technician.