Work terms in the mining industry are rewarding experiences. Students get the chance to apply what they learned in class and experience the true excitement of their profession. A work term is also a great opportunity to get up-to-date with the latest technologies and practices in use. Assigning different projects to students allows them to grow their knowledge base, develop work techniques and dive into the practical world of mining over the course of a 13- to 16-week placement.
Everyday life at Raglan Mine
Located 1,660 kilometres north of Quebec City, Raglan Mine is accessible only by air. At the mine, in addition to regular work, which goes on from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (with an hour’s break for lunch), there is a lot to do. Almost every night, there is a sporting activity underway at the gymnasium. There also is an entertainment room with musical instruments and table-top games, in addition to a few rooms with home theatre systems.
There is ample opportunity to meet and speak with new people who are, almost without exception, sympathetic and welcoming. The favoured hub of conversation is the cafeteria, which offers an excellent choice of diverse and healthy foods. The warm atmosphere helps the four weeks of work (three, for regular employees) before the two-week vacation to go by quickly.
In my work term, I was assigned two main projects. The first one focused on the reconciliation of data pertaining to diesel consumption by different mining activities. The objective was to create an index that would help better estimate the costs of diesel consumption in the financial planning of a new pit. This work gave me the opportunity to apply estimation and statistic notions learned in school.
The second project related to drilling and blasting, where I had to set up a quality control method to prevent cannon holes. The goal was to find out which factor influenced cannon holes the most in order to reduce their effect on the next blast. It was critical to minimize the incidence of fly rocks because the pit where the blasting occurs was quite close to the airstrip and the diesel tanks.
This work was extremely interesting because it gave me the opportunity to work with engineers, technicians and miners. Working with people from different hierarchical levels, I was exposed to different points of view. It also helped me gain a better understanding of the distinctive challenges faced at each level of mining work.
Apart from their specific projects, work-term students have many general daily tasks to carry out, such as taking part in different meetings (for example health and safety, production and weekly planning), filling out weekly reports, checking explosives bills and following up on production. More technical tasks include drawing out plans for drilling using AutoCAD software.
Working in the mining industry necessitates familiarizing yourself with a lot of procedures and completing numerous training sessions. In addition to the routine training given at work, there were opportunities to sign up for extra sessions. I attended one on explosives, conducted by Pierre Groleau of SNC-Lavalin. These special training sessions were greatly appreciated because those who conduct them often share their personal experiences — a factor missing in the textbooks.
Work terms give students the opportunity to acquire and improve on practical and technical knowledge. They also provide a glimpse into their futures as full-time employees in the industry and give future employers the chance to see students in action.
Alexandre Dorval is a third-year mining engineering student at Université Laval.