A training agreement between an Aboriginal training centre in Kenora and an emerging northwestern Ontario gold miner is starting to pay dividends for area First Nations.
A first wave of 12 graduates from Seven Generations Education Institute’s surface miner training program were scheduled become permanent employees of New Gold at its advanced Rainy River project in early January.
The trainees, who arrived at the mine site located 65 kilometres northwest of Fort Frances last August, have had four months of hands-on experience in driving large Komatsu haul trucks and operating Sandvik DR580 production drills during the construction of the open-pit mine, which began last May near the town of Emo.
Sandvik and SMS Equipment, a heavy truck dealership in Winnipeg, are delivering the training and will supply the equipment for the construction and operation of the mine, scheduled to go into production in the summer of 2017.
Another wave of 35 participants will eventually be added to the growing workforce as part of a staggered intake between early January and late March.
“It is all dependent on the availability of equipment,” said Wayne Zimmer, Seven Generations’ director of apprenticeship, essential skills and post-secondary education. “New Gold is still assembling their fleet and once a piece of equipment is assembled, it goes into service, so there is a limit as to how many at one time.”
Zimmer said all the training was done in shifts so as to mirror work patterns at the future open-pit mine.
The Seven Generations graduates, who are embedded with some of the estimated 400 contractors on site, are currently building the ramps for the mine.
Eventually, they will work the production drills and drive haul trucks, loaders and scoops.
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