About us


About us



Our mission to provide innovative and responsible solutions for the creation of a knowledgeable, skilled, and sustainable workforce within a vibrant, mineral-rich resource industry. The Northern Manitoba Mining Academy facilitates strategic training initiatives and research activities to strengthen the social, economic, and environmental benefits of a robust mining sector.

Located in Flin Flon, Manitoba, the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy is a unique partnership founded on the bedrock values of:

  • Excellence in education and research;
  • Dedication to finding solutions to real world problems;
  • Respect, celebration and diversity of our students, communities and services;
  • Reducing the environmental footprint of all that we do and all that we leave for the future;
  • Prudent use of financial, capital and human resources;
  • Maximizing social, economic and ecological benefits in a manner benefiting all;
  • Providing innovative and responsive solutions; and
  • Creating a knowledgeable, skilled and sustainable workforce within a vibrant, mineral-rich resource industry.





Sitting on the edge of the Precambrian Shield, Flin Flon is noted for the Flin Flon-Snow Lake Greenstone Belt, one of the most prolific mining belts in the world.

Flin Flon was founded in 1927 by Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting (HBM&S) to extract the large copper and zinc ore resources in the region.

Located 756 kms (475 miles) north west of Winnipeg, the City of Flin Flon straddles the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border and is the gateway to Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan's scenic north.

With an area population of 7,910 (Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach), Flin Flon is Manitoba's smallest city by population.




  • Buehler Lapro slab saw. Delta Petrocut abrasive cutter and Powerfeed 10” trim saw
  • Petrothin thin sectioning system and Petrovue thin section viewer
  • Polimet 1000 and MetaServ 250 grinders/polishers
  • Purelab water purification system
  • Fritsch disc mill pulverizer
  • Hach spectrophotometers
  • Hach portable digital water meter field kits and turbidimeters
  • Retsch BB200 jaw crusher
  • Ogeechee corer, Ekman dredge and Wisconsin plankton net
  • Kemmerer sampler and Secchi disk
  • Motic B3-220 compound miscroscopes
  • Swift SM90-M28Z stereo microscopes
  • Nikon Eclipse 50iPOL polarizing microscope with digital camera
  • Meiji ML9200 polarizing microscope
  • Nikon Eclipse E200 polarizing microscopes





Rob Penner, BSc, MSc

Executive Director

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Rob is the Executive Director of the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy in Flin Flon and Associate Vice-President of Career and Workforce Development at University College of the North. Prior to this, Rob was Chair of Sciences within the Faculty of Arts and Science at UCN and also served UCN as the Dean of Health and Applied Science, Head of the Department of Renewable Resources, and Ecotourism Project Manager within the Northern Forest Diversification Centre. His academic training and experiences are within the areas of biology, ecology, and natural resources management.

In addition to his career in education, administration, and research, Rob has a diversity of experiences spanning from his start as a motorcycle mechanic to computer software technician, farmer, canoe guide, biologist, and instructor, among others jobs. This multiplicity of experiences have convinced him of the power of “cross-pollination” in working with diverse groups and people.


Craig Cowper

Operations Manager

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Craig is the Operations Manager of the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy where he started in 2018. He has a background in Health & Safety and Emergency Response, having worked in a number of industries, including mining, academic and aerospace.

Craig was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario where he comes by his love for the Toronto Maple Leafs honestly. Upon completion of a college diploma in Industrial Hygiene Technology he began working his way west with stops in Flin Flon, Winnipeg, and Saskatoon before returning to the Flin Flon area with his family. In his spare time Craig can be found on the golf course, on the lake, or travelling with family.

Eckart Buhlmann, Geologist

Eckart Buhlmann

Educational Associate

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For as long as he can remember Eckart Buhlmann has loved forests, lakes, grasslands, the sea, mountains, rocks and being on the land – all of this while he grew up in the big, beautiful city, Berlin.

While still a child, Eckart’s friends noticed he was very good at finding things. When rival gangs hid their gold treasures, it was usually Eckart who unearthed them. Perhaps this is why Eckart dreamed of becoming a full-time treasure hunter when he grew up.
Eckart went on to study mineralogy at the Free University of Berlin and finished his education seven years later at the University of Heidelberg with a PhD degree in his pocket.

As a treasure hunter, Eckart’s greatest discovery was his lovely wife, Lore. Together their sweetest surprises were their daughters and son.

With his young family, this budding treasurer hunter/mineralogist moved to Central Africa to spend time working on the vast, rich copper-cobalt mines. It was there that Eckart delved into the puzzling relationship between cobalt and nickel in ores.

Eckart and his growing family then moved to Zimbabwe and South Africa to help discover new deposits of nickel and copper. After living for several years near Earth’s largest meteorite impact crater among many of the world’s richest gold mines by Johannesburg, South Africa, Eckart and his family decided it was time to move on to Canada.

Eckart grew to love the vast country of Canada with so much of its bedrock hidden under endless glacial debris. For a treasure hunter/mineralogist, Canada held huge discovery potential.

After a few years as the chief geologist on a small silver mine in the majestic and remote Great Bear Lake region of Northern Canada and many exploration seasons in different parts of this huge country, Eckart moved to the mining town of Flin Flon, Manitoba.

Taking on the role as instructor and researcher at the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy, Eckart now finds many opportunities to win over young people to “treasure hunting”, prospecting and exploring.

Paul Alexandre, Geologist

Paul  Alexandre

Executive Associate

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Professor Paul Alexandre, PhD, P.Geo., has been working in close collaboration with mineral exploration professionals (Cameco, Uravan, Strateco, RioTinto) to understand the factors controlling the formation of uranium deposits and to develop novel and effective exploration techniques. His major methods are geochemistry, geostatistics, and geochronology.

Board of Directors


Board of Directors


Dayna Waring – Organizational Development Superintendent, Vale
Vacant – Hudbay

University College of the North

Doug LauvstadPresident, University College of the North
Donna CarriereVice-President of Community-Based Services, University College of the North
Dan SmithVice-President, Academic and Research, University College of the North (interim)
Avery AscherManager of Research, Research and Innovation, University College of the North

City of Flin Flon
Ken Pawlachuck – Councillor, City of Flin Flon

Flin Flon School Division

Constance McLeese – Superintendent, Flin Flon School Division
Tammy Ballantyne – Assistant Superintendent, Flin Flon School Division

Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce

David KendallChartered Accountant, Kendall Wall Pandya

Northern Regional Health Authority
Chris Matechuk – Board Member, Northern Health Region, Cranberry Portage

Northern Manitoba Sector Council
Don Nisbet – Co-Chair, Northern Manitoba Sector Council

Flin Flon Local Manitoba Métis Federation

Lawrence WheelerLocal President, Manitoba Métis Federation

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak
Freda Lepine – First nation Employment and Training Coordinator, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak

UCN Regional Centre Director

Michelle LogeotDirector of Regional Centres, University College of the North

UCN Regional Centre Coordinator

Kylie McKinnon Regional Centre Coordinator, University College of the North

Government of Manitoba

Jeff McMasterManager, Environmental and Industrial Resources, Manitoba Jobs and the Economy, Workforce Development and Income Support, Industry, Training and Employment Services, Industry Services

Jacqueline Lagimodiere – Director, Northern Services, Training and Employment Services, Jobs and the Economy, Government of Manitoba

University of Manitoba
Norman Halden – Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Manitoba

University of Winnipeg
Dr. Patricia Fitzpatrick – Associate Professor, Department of Geology, University of Winnipeg

Brandon University

Dr. A. Hamid MuminProfessor, Brandon University

Red River College

University College of the North
Rob Penner – Executive Director, Northern Manitoba Mining Academy
Peter Garrioch – Director, Career and Workforce Development, University College of the North