2014 Underground New Miner Camp

Story and Photos by Monique Musick

MAPTS Graduates First Class of Underground Mine Students

Yukon College and MAPTS collaborated to deliver a introductory underground mine training program at the Delta Mine Training Center in Delta Junction, Alaska. The training included a Soft Skills or Life Skills component in addition to the required competencies for underground mining. The use of an actual underground mine facility allowed students the necessary hands-on skills training combined with the camp life experience. In the future this facility will accommodate both Surface Mining and Underground Mining training. 

Underground New Miner Camp

Andy Sewap navigates a virtual mine in a simulation of operating an underground haul truck. The simulator, provided by Yukon College for use at the Delta Mine Training Center, is the same used in Juneau by UA mine training students.

Jackleg Drilling Training

Jackleg drilling is a notoriously difficult skill to teach, but UA MAPTS mine safety training instructor Jim Smith is one of the best and successfully trained the group in the safe operation of the drill.
Kibbe Tetlichi concentrates as he uses the Jackleg Drill to bore a hole in solid granite.

Underground Equipment Operation

MAPTS instructor Daren Case assists Michael Salvisberg in a pre-operation inspection of an underground load-haul-dump (LHD) loader.
Michael Salvisberg looks on as classmate Ken Nukon prepares to operate the LHD loader.
MAPTS instructor Daren Case guides Yukon College student Ken Nukon in a LHD loader as he prepares to load an underground haul truck driven by classmate John Adam.
Classmates work together to drill into the granite walls using a Jackleg Drill.
Cody Joe operates the Jackleg Drill.

Underground New Miner Camp Curriculum

Employability Skills

  • Employer expectations
  • Team work
  • Job readiness and personal preparation
  • Working in a multicultural workforce
  • Life Balance and quality time with the family
  • Finance and money management
  • Prepare for the long term employment  
  • Be ready when opportunities present themselves
  • Camp life
  • Prepare yourself and your family to be away from home on rotation
  • Understand your employers needs

Safety & Environmental Compliance

  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) – Delivered by Yukon College
  • Delta Mine Training Center facility safety and environmental compliance
  • Field Level Risk Assessment (FLRA)
  • Emergency Medical Response and Procedures
  • Incident/Accident Reporting

Hard Skills

  • General mining theory
  • Ground control (barring down)
  • Utilities and nipper duties
  • Jackleg drilling/rock bolting & mat placement
  • LHD simulation, pre-shift and operation
  • Underground loading, hauling and dumping LHD
  • Underground haul truck simulation, pre-shift inspection and operation
  • Underground hauling and dumping
  • Hauling to surface and surface dump operations
  • Dozer operation on the surface

Required Competencies

  • Soft Skills
  • Reports and documentation
  • Workplace inspections
  • Ground Control
  • Utilities placement and identification
  • Jackleg drilling and maintenance of machine
  • Rock bolting (split sets, cable bolts, swellex bolts)
  • Haul truck simulation
  • Haul truck Pre-shift and operation
  • LHD simulation with Toro 007, pre-shift and operation
  • LHD Wagner pre-shift and operation
  • D5G XL pre-shift and operation
Bill Bieber, the director of the Mining and Petroleum Training Service, or MAPTS, has more than a 34-year history in the mining and petroleum industries in Alaska and Montana.

VIP Tour and Graduation Ceremony

On March 9, representatives and dignitaries from the University of Alaska and Yukon College, along with government and industry partners, assembled in the Delta Mine Training Center to celebrate the graduation of the 2014 Undergound Miner Camp.

Visitors were broken into groups and given a tour of the facility by the instructors and students. At each stop along the tour one of the graduates taught the passing groups about their station or equipment. At the conclusion of the tour everyone gathered in a massive underground shop were the graduation ceremony was held.

The success of this program required significant collaboration from all sides of the partnership between Yukon College and the University of Alaska (MAPTS). The continued partnership will benefit both Canada and Alaska by producing future mining industry employees on both sides of the border.

The first stop was the mine simulator. Student Corey Hilderman and instructor Mike Azzara demonstrated the simulator to a group including UA Regent Jo Heckman and her husband Steve, Student Regent Courtney Enright, Rajive Ganguli of UAF College of Engineering and Mines, Vice President Dana Thomas, DOLWD Commissioner Dianne Blumer and AWIB Executive Director Nancy Dahlstrom.
As MAPTS director Bill Bieber explains the simulator can also be used for surface equipment operation simulations.
Cody Joe explains the process of inspecting and operating the D5 dozer.
John Adam describes the processes, challenges and considerations of installing utilities in an underground mine.
Ken Nukon leads the group through a pre-shift inspection and operation of a Toro 007 LHD loader.
Michael Salvisberg instructed the group on the operation of an underground haul truck.
Kibby Tetlichi explains how the Wagner LHD may be a better fit for some jobs in tighter spaces underground.
Andy Sewap demonstrates the operation of the Jackleg drill and discusses the processes of drilling, blasting, mucking and rock bolting in an underground mine.
As guests concluded the tour they gathered in a massive undergound shop space and watched a slide show of the students engaged in training.
Vice President Dana Thomas was part of the university delegation at the ceremony.
Shelagh Rowles, executive director of the Center for Northern Innovation in Mining at Yukon College, and Bill Bieber, executive director of MAPTS, gave a brief Powerpoint detailing the history of the partnership between Yukon College, the University of Alaska and industry partners.
Bill Bieber gave an overview of some of the logistics required to deliver this course. The Delta Mine Training Center had never before been used for training so the camp had to be set up and staffed. In addition the simulator was installed, materials staged and equipment brought in for the training. René Azzara wrote the curriculum and had it approved. All the instructors had to receive training in the simulator and complete additional safety training prior to the class. It was a lot of coordination with many partners but led to a very successful first class.
Mike Azzara gave the graduates an extra treat: his infamous smoked salmon.
The Yukon Government Minister of Education Elaine Taylor spoke on the importance of this agreement to the mining industries in Canada and Alaska.
Brad Thrall, EVP and Chief Operating Officer of Alexco Resource Group and Chair of the Center for Northern Innovation in Mining Governing Council, stressed the importance of industry partnerships in this process.
University of Alaska President Pat Gamble congratulated the graduates and spoke on the importance of the mining industry.
Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Dianne Blumer congratulated students, instructors and industry partners on the success of this program and its importance to Alaska and the Yukon.
Vice President Dana Thomas reminded graduates that the hard skills learned in this training may get them job opportunities, but it is the soft skills that are necessary to retain those jobs.
John Adam shakes President Gamble's hand as he receives his diploma.
Corey Hilderman, who turned 19 during training, was the youngest graduate of the Underground New Miner Camp.
Students, instructors and guests file out from the mine following the ceremony.
Shelagh Rowles cuts a cake celebrating the successful partnership and graduation of the first class of underground mine students.
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