Hecla Greens Creek and UAS renew Pathway to Mining Careers Program with gift of $315,000

August 6, 2020

The Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company renewed its partnership with the University of Alaska Southeast Center for Mine Training this week, with a gift of $315,000 to be realized over the next three years.  The gift supports the world-class workforce development program “Pathway to Mining Careers” with scholarship assistance to prepare Alaskans for key jobs in the mining industry, with an emphasis on mine mechanics specializing in underground equipment, that are vital to the overall economy of the state. The program provides a platform for Alaskans to learn more about and engage with the mining industry. It exemplifies a commitment to safety and environmental stewardship in the use of Alaskan resources.

Mike Satre commented, “The Hecla Greens Creek Mine is proud to continue its support of UAS.  With this investment, we will have contributed over $1.2M since 2011 in support of developing a skilled local workforce through UAS’s renowned Center for Mine Training.  Over ten percent of our diesel mechanics at the mine have started their career path at UAS and we look forward to growing that number. In this time of uncertainty it is important that we partner with our local university to provide a dependable pathway to high paying careers for the members of our community and this program does exactly that.” Sartre is  the Manager of Government and Community Relations at Hecla Greens Creek Mine.

Through the generosity of Hecla Greens Creek, scholarships have been awarded along the career pathway to students who successfully apply for them and maintain their academic eligibility. Over the past 5 years nearly $300k has been awarded to students. All students within any of the Pathway programs are made aware their scholarships come directly from Hecla Greens Creek. As with student participation, overall awareness and support has grown with the program.

“This continued partnership between UAS and Hecla Greens Creeks means that another generation of Alaskans will have the support they need to start careers in one of Alaska's most lucrative and vital industries. The need for mine mechanics with a respect for the land on which we live has been paramount to this effort. The support student's receive from Hecla Greens Creek has beneficially furthered the career options and skills of all those who have received funding, said program coordinator Casey Bain.

The “Pathway to Mining Careers” program for high school juniors and seniors has expanded to include adults new to the mining industry.  The pathway begins with an introduction to mining careers and occupations course, designed to teach students that you don't have to be a miner to work at a mine.  High school students who take this 3 credit UAS class also receive .5 high school credits.  The class includes field trips, guest speakers, and hands-on activities. The next step in the pathway is the week-long “Hecla Greens Creek Mine Academy,” where students take the Mine Safety and Health Administration training which culminates in the federally-recognized certification required to work at any mine in the United States. It features the virtual mine training simulator at UAS and includes field trips to the underground mine lab. 

Students who continue in the pathway go on to job shadow employees in a variety of fields throughout the mining operation. Following this, students interested in becoming a mine mechanic or fixed plant mechanic can enter a program for the 1-year Mine Mechanic or Fixed Plant Mechanical Occupational Endorsement and 2-year Mine Mechanic or Fixed Plant Mechanic Associate of Applied Science degree. Additionally, the program gives scholarship recipients the opportunity to apply to paid summer internships at Hecla Greens Creek Mine. Combined, these efforts have been vital to acquiring the real world experience that often leads to full time employment in Alaska’s mining industry.

The ultimate goal of the pathway is a career in mining.  Committed students who successfully follow the pathway and complete a Mine Mechanic program will be considered for employment at the Hecla Greens Creek Mine.  Pete Traxler remarked, “There is great career potential in Alaska’s future mining industry.  The investment by Hecla Greens Creek continues to bring out the best in our students. We are not only educating a future workforce, but creating advocates which can only be a great asset to Hecla Greens Creek and the Alaskan mining industry in general.” Traxler is the Executive Dean for the UAS School of Career & Technical Education.

Learn more about the UAS Center for Mine Training and the Hecla Greens Creek Pathway to Mining Careers program at uas.alaska.edu/career_ed/ mining or by speaking with program coordinator Casey Bain at (907) 796-6427.