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Richard LeBreton works in one of the planet’s most unique and remote locations: a diamond mine on an isolated island that sits 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, and 200 km south of the Arctic Circle. In winter, temperatures at the site in Lac de Gras regularly reach -40, and an ice road is required to transport supplies. All in all, it’s a geotechnical engineer’s dream come true.
“The Diavik Diamond Mine is a technological marvel,” he says. “The work itself is a prime opportunity to develop outstanding experience in my field. I pinch myself every day.”
To access the ore, dikes had to be constructed to hold back the waters of Lac de Gras. Mr. LeBreton, a native of Petit-Rocher, N.B., is charged with making sure the massive surrounding walls of granite don’t collapse.
“I ensure that the work environment remains stable,” he says. “It’s very specialized, challenging work. We’re dealing with the Canadian Shield,” which is a vast expanse of Precambrian rock that covers more than half of Canada.
Mr. LeBreton studied engineering at Montreal’s École Polytechnique before joining Diavik four years ago, and he now works four days a week at the site before flying back to Yellowknife for a three-day weekend. His move across the country prompted a significant lifestyle change.
“It’s quite a shift,” he says. “But this has enriched my life experience. There’s a sense of adventure, going to a remote location. It has an exotic feel to it.
“It’s pristine nature here,” he adds. “The air is pure and the water’s clean. In the summer, there’s hiking, camping, kayaking; in the winter there’s snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.”
Add in dogsledding, the Northern Lights, and spectacular scenery, and there’s lots here for an avid outdoorsperson to love.
But Mr. LeBreton is just as keen on the company he works for as he is on the job itself and his breathtaking surroundings.
“What’s really struck me is that Diavik is a responsible organization: Responsible toward its employees, to the communities it works with and within, and toward the environment,” he says.
Recently named as one of Canada’s top 100 employers, Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. is a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, a London, England-based company that operates copper, aluminum, iron ore, coal and diamond mines around the globe. The mine is a joint venture of Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. and Harry Winston Diamond Limited Partnership, which are both headquartered in Yellowknife.
In the Northwest Territories, Diavik processes diamond ore from its open pit and other underground mine operations. It expects to be an all-underground operation by 2012. Its annual diamond production peaks at more than six million carats.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/top-employers/top-employers-2012/wanted-workers-with-a-healthy-sense-of-adventure/article2193263/