The Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining (CNIM) at Yukon College celebrated seven Yukon students graduating yesterday from its new Introduction to Underground Mining Operations program. The ceremony was attended by Education Minister Elaine Taylor, Alaska Labour and Workforce Development Commissioner Dianne Blumer, Yukon College President Dr. Karen Barnes, University of Alaska President Pat Gamble, and representatives from the Yukon mining industry.
“I am proud to offer my congratulations to these Yukon graduates for successfully completing the Underground Mining Operations program offered through the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining,” said Education Minister Elaine Taylor. “This is one of many training opportunities supported by the Yukon government’s five-year, $11.4 million investment in CNIM to help provide jobs for Yukoners and ensure the labour market has the skilled workers it needs.”
The ceremony took place underground at the Delta Mine Training Centre (DMTC) in Delta Junction, Alaska. The DMTC is a 100 acre replicated mine environment built into a granite hill. It has been the base of operations for two 14-day shift rotations where students have received hands-on skills training in industrial safety, employability, entry-level mining theory, drilling, ground conditions, ventilation, and operating heavy equipment underground.
The Introduction to Underground Mining Operations program is a partnership between the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining at Yukon College, the Yukon Mine Training Association (YMTA) and the Mining And Petroleum Training Service (MAPTS) division of the University of Alaska. The program reflects standards required in Alaska, Yukon and across Canada. Students graduated with a certificate from both Yukon College and University of Alaska.
Instructor and MAPTS Executive Director William Bieber said the pilot program has exceeded his expectations.
“This group of students is incredibly competent. They are doing far more than we expected. They are graduating with 20 hours of seat time in the equipment and will be able to tackle the first three of the five levels of position in an operating mine,” said Bieber. “We do not have a weak link in this group.”
“This is a valuable partnership and an exciting opportunity for Yukon students,” said Dr. Karen Barnes, Yukon College President. “The program has given these graduates exposure to the lifestyle and work involved to apply for long-term, well-paid, skilled trades jobs and we look forward to them becoming valued underground mining employees.”
“Training Yukoners in all phases of mining is of great value to the mining industry. It helps companies to lower operating costs and reduces the need to move personnel from other parts of the country. In addition, it allows earned wages to remain in the Yukon,” said Ron Light, General Manager, Minto Mine.
The seven graduates are aged between 19 and 56 and from communities all across Yukon. They will receive assistance from YMTA in connecting them with positions at a Yukon mine.
“I would love to work in Yukon, but the best thing about this training is that I can go anywhere in the world,” said graduate John Adam, a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizen. “I have really enjoyed the teamwork involved in underground mining. The program also gave us experience in acting as shift leader, which involves a lot more responsibility looking after your team, tracking paperwork, fuel, and ensuring each person has what they need.”
“I did not expect to get as much hands-on experience as we had,” said graduate Cody Joe, a citizen of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. “It has been really enjoyable. This program is exactly what I need to help get my foot in the door.”