Sometimes at 5:30 a.m. sometimes at 5:30 p.m., Ola Arnaquq climbs up into giant bulldozers to begin her 12-hour shift at the Mary River iron mine, 160 km south of Pond Inlet. She’s also capable of operating massive rock trucks and haul trucks.
“I was in awe of (these vehicles) and knew as soon as I saw one on site that I’d love to learn to run them,” says Arnaquq, who has been working at the mine for six years. “(It’s) different getting into the seat of one for sure, a bit tense to start but it got easier. Seat time is what helps confidence with operating equipment. Remembering how that feels definitely helps coaching newcomers.”
Prior to starting work with Baffinland Iron Mines, the largest vehicle Arnaquq had ever driven was a pickup truck. Beyond size, the biggest difference between driving a pickup and operating a bulldozer or a haul truck is the elaborate safety precautions for the latter, she says.
“We ensure that we take responsibility in our safety by going through an extensive and thorough pre- and post-operational checklist to ensure that equipment is running smoothly and safely. Mine traffic patterns and mine safety is key,” says Arnaquq. “There are lots of brake systems for safety. A dozer is completely different altogether – it runs on tracks and has a joystick or paddle controls.”
Baffinland has also employed Arnaquq in human resources and administrative capacities. While her family and friends encouraged her to find her way in the industry, there was some apprehension among them over her taking on rotational work at a remote location, she admits.