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Move over Dora the Explorer — another Latina heroine and adventurer is here and she’s ready to teach kids about mining. 

Like Dora, Ana likes adventures and problem solving. But she – and the other characters in Ana Gabriela Juárez’s new book “Ana’s Adventures at the Mine: The Secret of La Esperanza” – are based on real people. Ana is modelled on the author, president of CTA Environmental Consultants and founder of WIM Central America, while her grandmother in the book is Canadian Mining Hall of Fame member and geologist, Maureen Jensen.

Juárez, who’s based in Toronto but is originally from Guatemala, said she’s always believed it’s important to educate kids about rocks and mining.  The idea for the book came to her during the pandemic, when WIM Central America started online mineralogy clubs for kids.

“Kids are a really big group of people that sometimes mining companies don’t take into account with their stakeholder groups, but it’s such an important group,” she said.

“It’s super interesting because kids, when they understand something and get passionate about it, they’re really great advocates.”

Juárez said in her experience with mineralogy clubs, which are now meeting in-person, kids love learning around rocks, and sharing what they learn with friends at school and with their families.

“We get pictures of them having their entire families in the living room sitting there and them teaching them about the importance of mining.”

Author Ana Gabriela Juárez. Credit: Amazon

Central America mining woes

Mining is unwelcome throughout much of Central America, and one of Juarez’s aims when starting a WIM organization in the region was to change people’s perspective on the industry.

“We saw that we had several issues that we needed to work with in our region to promote mining, but also female representation. We cannot be women in mining organizations if we don’t have mining in our countries, right?”

Several countries in the region have banned or placed heavy restrictions on mining. A popular backlash against the industry is now unfolding in Panama. In response to huge protests against Panama’s recent deal with First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM), for example, the country’s President Laurentino Cortiz on Oct. 27 said he would ban any new mines, including those already in the permitting process.

Juárez says that education about mining is key to fostering a better understanding of the industry in Central America and countering deep-seated negative perceptions.

The idea for the book came to her when she realized there was no educational literature for kids to read in Spanish that was related to mining. She thought about what her 12-year-old son and his cousins in Guatemala would be interested in.

The result is “Ana’s Adventures at the Mine”, which will soon be available in Portuguese, Arabic, French and German, in addition to English and Spanish.

The story follows Ana, who finds a truck containing her grandmother’s geology gear with her friends on her birthday. The friends are magically transported to the mining valley of Esperanza where they need to work together to solve a series of challenges.

Part of the proceeds go to WIM Central America, and Juárez says the book, aimed at ages 8-13, is already on Amazon’s best sellers list in 38 categories.