Careers in Mining

Valérie Maltais

Valérie Maltais

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Manager, Environment
Coeur Mining Inc.

I was born and raised in Timmins, Ontario. When it was time to decide on a post-secondary pathway, the opportunities that existed in the industry were not obvious to me, even in a city which has prospered due to the mining industry for more than a century. My dad has been a proud miner for almost 40 years with at least a couple of those decades also dedicated to mine rescue. Shortly, after I returned to Timmins as a professional in another field, I met my future husband, a mining engineer, who had relocated to Timmins from the east coast of Canada to work at Kidd Mine, alongside my dad in many aspects. He introduced me to his circle of friends and co-workers including some remarkable young women that worked at the mine. This had a profound influence on how I saw the industry. It was about a year later that I decided to go back to school to study environmental earth sciences at Laurentian University with the objective of gaining a skill-set and credentials that would serve as an entry point, aligned with my interests, to the mining industry.

There are so many reasons! I love my job because I get to work with interesting people, see new landscapes, learn about different cultures and jurisdictional requirements, and implement new systems and programs. What I love the most though is that I learn something new every day and often face new challenges. It is also incredibly exciting to contribute to the green technology value stream. I like to call this a “green collar job”.

The industry is evolving quickly and there are always growth opportunities for those willing to step up.  You will earn a very competitive salary and get to work within a global landscape. We often say that it is “a small industry” since you will find a community of people who openly share innovation and lessons learned, hold each other accountable so that we can all contribute to the responsible extraction of our needed metals.

Environmental Earth Science (B.Sc. (Hons))
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Caroline Hawson

Caroline Hawson

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Hydrogeologist
Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

The excitement, the endless possibilities to explore visit new communities. Growing up in Sheffield, England surrounded by coal mines, the ancient lead mines of Derbyshire and the new oil and gas discoveries in the North Sea demonstrated that the opportunities were endless. Prior to heading off to university I was sure I was going to have a career in agriculture due to my love of being outdoors! Through my early years in Canada, I edited countless geoscience manuscripts which provided a wealth of knowledge and when opportunity presented itself, I was ready to work on the Laurentian University “Sudbury Soils Study” which piqued my interest in the environmental side of mining. From there I moved into gold exploration work developing 3D models of mineral deposits and back to the environmental field in the hydrogeology sector

In the environmental field, a relatively young and developing aspect of mining, I now find myself protecting the quality and quantity of groundwater through the Planning Act, the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and the Clean Water Act. Since the Walkerton Crisis in 2000, it has been recognised that maintaining clean, uncontaminated sources of drinking water is very important. Through years of urbanisation and the development of thousands of drinking water supply wells together with the consumptive extraction of water it has become necessary to ensure that recharge and quality of groundwater is maintained such that groundwater aquifers are maintained, improved, or restored. Together with protecting the natural heritage system and its associated features. I love the variety of positions that I have occupied, all of them have built on skills developed previously, I have experienced throughout my career and am continuing to adapt to new challenges and demands.

There is the challenge of balancing the familiar with the new and to be involved in developing new technologies. Many skills are transferable between the various disciplines. No two projects are the same and require an individual that has skills and knowledge in many different disciplines and is able to integrate them to ensure successful projects. The ability to learn is ever present. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team is challenging, exciting and makes for an intellectually fulfilling career.

B.Sc, Geology with Geochemistry and M.Sc, Geology
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Roch Larochelle

Roch Larochelle

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Engineering Technologist - Shaft Technician
Redpath

Ever since I was young, I was always fascinated by heavy equipment and construction. I would always listen to my grandfather talk about doing projects in the underground mines, how he would travel from place to place to work with people around the world. He made a name for himself and is now well know in the industry. Once I was old enough to understand it all, I was hooked! I graduated from the Collège Boréal program of Civil and Mining Engineering Technologist in 2016. Since then, I got my foot in the door with Redpath Mining. In October 2016, I was hired as a nipper at Canadian Royalties Allammaq mine in Nunavik Québec. Greener than the grass outside, Redpath has taught me it is safety is first last and always. I’ve been trained to operate equipment like boom trucks, haul trucks, scoops as well as scissor deck trucks, explosive trucks, MineCats, you name it! During my time at this project, it gave me the opportunity to really see what underground mining was like. I was able to make my way to Red Lake Ontario on Goldcorp property a few years later to construct 2 large truck chutes. From operating heavy equipment, to building steel structures in the depths of the earth, I knew that the technical side of construction was just for me.

I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people, learning many new things, travelling all over and the most important having fun on the job! 

 

Fast forward now, my current position with Redpath is Shaft Technician at Vale’s Copper Cliff South Mine, where we are refurbishing an existing shaft. It is a very unique project. The position allows me to learn new things everyday which motivates me to come to work and face the next task at hand. I can honestly say with the skills I have learned here it makes me a better handyman at home and encourages me to take on more DIY projects. I am very thankful for all the leaders and mentors that have helped me get this far. Without them, I would not know half the things I do today. The shaft is a whole other chapter of mining that I have yet to fully conquer and I would like to broaden my horizons in the near future and hopefully get to work in shaft sinking and eventually in later years supervision so then it can be my turn to train and coach the next generation coming into the field.

Modern mining has changed quite a bit in the last decade which makes it more inviting the new generations to come to favour a career in mining. Everything is getting so technologically advanced, all these tools help making the job easier and more efficient and if anyone is buying top of the line tools and equipment, you better believe it’s the big mining corporations. I think people should be a little more educated and exposed to what mining really is and how almost everything we use on a daily basis comes from the earths core. It’s funny because I talk to some people about what I do and they still have it in their heads that mining is done with pick axes and shovels.

 

So, if you’re the type of person that wakes up in the morning and wants to make a difference, work hard and provide well for yourself and your family and also have fun at work, maybe a career in mining is for you!

Civil and Mining Engineering Technologist Program
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Charles Ramcharan

Charles Ramcharan

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Associate Professor, School of the Environment
Laurentian University, Owner and CEO, Tunik Inc.

I was born in Trinidad & Tobago, but grew up in Toronto, where I did all three of my postgraduate degrees at the University of Toronto (UofT). My research wasn’t about mining, but many of my mentors at UofT and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment were Ecologists who were deeply involved with studies of acid rain, metal contamination, long-range transport, and other consequences of industrial damage from mining. I didn’t join that effort until I was hired by Laurentian University in 2003 and I’m very glad I did! It’s fascinating to see how ecosystem functions were disrupted in different ways by industrial damage, but it’s also very heartening to know that those tragic times are largely gone, at least here in Sudbury.

I get to help fix mining. There is absolutely no reason why the price for mining for metals has to include an ecologically blighted landscape. With good pre-mining data, careful contingency planning, and an adaptive approach to environmental management, companies can serve their corporate needs without major lasting damage, and with support from their local communities. Social licence to operate involves many aspects of building trust, but the most visible is avoiding environmental damage. I’m excited to now see the ideas, approaches, and concepts developed in Sudbury to fix environmental problems are now being packaged as solutions that can be exported to jurisdictions around the world that have similar problems.

Creating a green and sustainable future relies heavily on mined metals. Whether it’s building a new electrical grid, creating a more equitable water distribution system, or embedding smart technologies for improving efficiency, we will need more base and other precious metals. The opportunities run from science to social science, from entrepreneurship to accounting, and from engineering to law. Just as promising as creating a new mining model here in Canada, is the opportunity to nurture the same responsible mining model in other countries.

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Marcus Thomson

Marcus Thomson

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Business Development Manager
Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG)

I am probably the exception to the group in that I knew almost nothing about mining until my 30s, having spent the first part of my career working in business and technology roles. However, when the opportunity to work for a service and supply company arose, I jumped at the chance to learn. Now, I work with for Global Mining Guidelines Group - GMG that creates collaborative guidelines for the mining industry, where I get to apply my interests in business and technology to challenges impacting the global mining industry.

Without many experts sharing their knowledge along the way, it would have been difficult to learn about mining. However, the mining community is incredibly positive and generous in helping others. I have had opportunities to visit mine sites around the world, make connections in dozens of difference countries, and continuously learn about fascinating new topics and innovations. Since mining is a fundamental industry that affects every aspect of life, any improvements to the industry's sustainability and efficiency make a big difference everywhere. So, there is a lot of meaning to be found working in mining.

Mining is an industry where results and projects are very practical, and you get to see the success of the industry in action. Big ideas also happen very quickly. For instance, battery electric vehicles for mining were only an idea a few years back. Now mines are being designed around them, and a significant portion of many equipment manufacturers' sales are now electric. Or we hear a lot about self-driving vehicles affecting the world, yet huge vehicles in mining are operating autonomously right now.  So, if someone wants to make a difference working with technology and wonderful people, the mining industry is the best.

HBComm, MBA
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Katie Burau

Katie Burau

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Project Manager, Mining
Stantec

Why not?! No, really. It was completely happenstance. My background is in education and business administration, but I was referred to my current company, Stantec by a friend from university. After my first week in mining, I was so overwhelmed by the terminology that I felt as though I was working in a foreign language and wouldn’t last the month!  Eleven years and a new country later, I can’t imagine being in any other industry. I’ve stayed because of the opportunity and community––maybe that should be the industry’s new slogan! I saw so much opportunity to travel and see different parts of the world and also the opportunity to be a part of a positive change in the industry. As transient as this industry tends to be, it’s one of the more tight-knit, familial communities out there. It’s rare to attend a mining event where you don’t know anyone. To this end, I feel obliged to give back to the industry that has welcomed me with open arms. I am proud to volunteer as a board member for both CIM Sudbury and WIM Sudbury; Co-Chair CIM-MEMO 2022; supporting the WISE Science and Engineering Olympics; supporting the MECA Symposium; and a member of CIM’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DIAC).

The beauty about life as a Project Manager with Stantec’s Mining Business Line is that no two day is the same. I am still learning something new every single day, through experience and challenges. I love helping clients and our project team solve problems and the best days involve my team’s successes and achievements! I work with some amazing individuals who continuously blow me away with their talent, challenge me to sharpen my skills, and always be a better version of myself than the day prior. 

Aside from the fact that mining offers a wide range of lucrative careers, I also find it incredibly rewarding to be witness to innovations and initiatives that contribute to sustainable development as I feel a personal responsibility to a sustainable future for generations to come. We are at the cusp of major shifts in our industry: everything from changes in our workplace cultures to the use remote technology at the mine face for a safer operation. Progress is happening at an exponential rate. It’s an exciting time for mining. One of the reasons I volunteer for events like WISE Sudbury’s Science and Engineering Olympics is so kids (specifically girls) are exposed to careers in STEM/SETT fields and potentially picture themselves as future leaders in the industry one day. I’ll continue to be an advocate, whether it be within my own organization or on a more global scale with my work with CIM’s DIAC, for a more diverse and equitable workforce to position the mining industry for the best and brightest talent available.

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Jeff Lafortune

Jeff Lafortune

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Professor
Collège Boréal

I graduated from the Civil and Mining Technology program at Collège Boréal in 1996. That summer, I received a phone call from my father, who was a Construction Miner at the time, telling me there was an opening at the mine. I packed my bags, bought a bus ticket, and headed to Wawa Ontario. I didn’t know what the job would be, however I was just happy to get my foot in the door at the mine.

 

After working for 7 years with River Gold Mines Ltd, I was responsible for surveying, ventilation and environmental sampling. My experience as a Mine Technologist provided me with the opportunity of being hired within the Mines Technical Service team at Vale and more specifically at both Creighton Mine and Copper Cliff Mines. Working for this company allowed me to grow, learn, and prove myself. I would not be where I am now without the mentorship that I received from some great people at these mines.

 

During this time, I recall training many mining students, and it was then that I realized that I was developing a passion to teach AutoCAD, underground surveying, and mine ventilation. At the time, my College Professor was retiring, and I decided to leave the mines and become a full time College Professor, for the same program that I graduated from. My experiences and challenges have given me the tools that I need to prepare the Technologists of tomorrow.

I love my job because it allows me to place students in situations that I have been in and give them the tools they need to complete the task or job. I can answer, the what, where, when, why and how of many situations because I have lived them. I can also boast about the successes and I can share the challenges and lessons learnt. I have the unique opportunity to demonstrate, coach, and evaluate students with the use of tools and equipment used in the technical field.  I can also speak to the underground environment as well controls used in the workplace to minimize safety risks. Partnerships with Dynamic Earth, Vale and Glencore (to name a few) allow me to tour, teach, stay connected, and bridge the gap between academics and industry. These partnerships also provide a valuable opportunity for a work placement or a full-time job for some of our graduates. What an awesome feeling it is to help an Alumni land his or her first job!

I have always said that if you like a challenge, an adventure then mining is for you! There are many benefits to a career in mining such being a part of a team, bringing your skill and knowledge to the table, and helping to realise a project from planning to execution bring a very rewarding sensation. As a young surveyor, I had failed to acknowledge the impact that my work had with the mining cycle. In retrospect, I realized that an error, however small it may be, could have severe consequences.

 

I am proud to be a part of the mining community and to assist wherever I can. I have been a part of the MMTS team, I organize Mining Day with Stantec, Cambrian College and Laurentian University. I am also amongst some great mining folks and represent CIM Sudbury.

 

People make a difference and therefore that is a great benefit and also why I love mining!

Civil and Mining Technology Diploma
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Fareeda Amirault

Fareeda Amirault

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Chemical Analyst
Geoscience Laboratory

Growing up I loved everything science, so I enrolled in Environmental Earth Science, a degree that focused on geology, geography, biology and chemistry, it covered all the bases.

 

While attending Laurentian University I witnessed the construction of the Willet Green Miller Centre (WGMC) and thought to myself …hmm that’s where I would love to work one day. The WGMC was the home of Ministry of Northern Development Mines and Energy (MNDM&E), a place of science and exploration, it would be the perfect fit. I continued my studies with the hopes of working as a geologist; one semester of Field School and I realized this wasn’t actually the right fit. Nevertheless, my dream of working in science and technology at the WGMC was not deterred. In my last year of university, I secured employment as a summer student at the WGMC in the Geoscience Labs the rest is history.

I have been a Chemical Technologist with the Geoscience Laboratories at MNDM&E for over 20 years. I love my job because I am surrounded by science and technology. I use cutting edge analytical equipment to perform different tests on geological material to produce quality data. This data aids geologists, academics and the mining industry in the compilation of maps, reports and land use activities.

 

I maintain and calibrate technical equipment and trouble shoot when mechanical and technical problems arise due to issues relating to data and samples or equipment.

My job allows me to mentor students from post secondary institutions. I get to teach them how to apply their academic knowledge in a practical and professional environment.

 

I get to attend different conferences, training courses and symposiums that showcases the latest in analytical equipment, new technologies, and exploration. I get to network with like minded individuals and learn what’s new and innovative.

I produce high quality geochemical data, which is used by the Ontario Geological Survey to inform the public on the state of the environment, climate change, ground water quality, geological hazards, land use planning and creation of geological maps. The results also assist the mining industry in mineral exploration and energy resource potential. I feel privileged to be working and contributing to such a dynamic field that has influence on the world around us.

BSc Environmental Earth Science
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