|Here I am, in front of the portal leading underground. This is, honestly, the only picture I have of myself in my gear and anywhere near underground.|
I'm a production geologist at an underground mine in the Yukon. Basically what that boils down to is that I go underground, get in everyones way, look for shiny rocks, draw pictures, and tell everyone where to go.
Well okay, there's a bit more to it.
|The Mill - where the ore we haul up from underground is processed and our economical metals are extracted (copper, zinc, lead, silver, and a bit of gold). Awesome storm over the lake in the background.|
Are you still with me?
|Here's a jumbo, drilling off a round at our mine. If you look closely, you can see the ore (lighter brown) dipping from upper left to lower right across the 'face' (the leading edge of the drift).|
Our drillers are fantastic guys who have more experience underground than I have out of diapers, so one learns to tell them where to go very respectfully! And honestly, I've learned more from those guys than I ever did out of a textbook.
|The view as you exist the portal. This is a wonderful site after walking up the I-don't-even-want-to-know-how-many kilometre hike up from the bottom of the mine.|
|This is a clean day - you can see the pasty skin on my hands and my face is practically spotless!|
|We can get a lot of snow...|
My days are very predictable and unchanging, but the details are interesting.
|Bolter in an active drift. You can see bolt heads and screen up on the walls and back. Also our Geotech Engineer on the right. Shiny doofus.|
These guys are also fantastic. They really know their stuff. And since they're drilling into the rock all around the drift, they usually have a good feel for what types of rock is around us and are immensely helpful by passing on that information to me, which in turns helps me make more informed decisions.
Once a round is supported, the next round can be drilled off, and thus we complete our little mining cycle!
|Sunrise in the winter...after 10 am.|
|One of the planes that take us back and forth from Whitehorse.|
|View of the sun rising over the mountain range as we fly out of camp.|
|Sundogs on the airstrip.|
Having a good relationship with your cross-shift is key, in my books. Makes your job so much easier when there's no conflict there. We're lucky because me and my cross-shift think and do our job very similarly, so things are really consistant between us. Plus we're friends, so we try to make eachothers rotation as easy as possible. The only down-side is that despite living and working in the same place, we only ever meet up for a few minutes on the airstrip on Flyday. :(
|View from my office window.|
What else. Well, as I mentioned before, our day starts anywhere between 5:30 and 6:00 am (we get in earlier than normal so we can make the miner's morning meetings), and I'm usually underground by 6:15, and up anywhere between 8:30 and 10:30, depending on the day. The rest of the day is spent in the office. Meals are provided for us by good cooks - too good sometimes, and we usually have a nice selection of food. And there's always too many damn desserts available.
|You can't see me!|
|Looking down the valley to the south. Camp facilities, including all 6 dorms with the kitch in the middle at the middle-right, and tailings pond and airstrip to the left.|
|Looking up the valley to the north. Part of the mill facilities on the lower-left with the mine portal and associated supply area in the middle-left, and Wolverine Lake to the upper right.|
|Why yes, I did haul my knitting up there once!|
|Snowshoein' up the mountain one fine winter day.|
I should say, worked hard. Because unfortunately, the mine has been shut down again, and I'm pretty sure it won't start up once more. Long-time readers of my blog(s) may remember that I've been laid off from this place twice before? Well, I have a feeling that third-times the charm. I'm hopeful that things will come back together and the mine will open again, but I need to be realistic too. It's sad, but this is the mining industry, and we're in another slump. You can't get into this industry thinking that you'll be at the same place for decades at a time. I'm happy and thankful that I got two years working with such a great crew, but I'm sad that it's ended.
Hense the bittersweet comment at the start of all this.
|On the airstrip, leaving camp after my very first rotation. Didn't get a pic of me leaving camp on my very last. This will have to do.|
What am I going to do now? I don't know, really. I'm giving myself some time off - unless a good geo job comes up, I'm cutting myself slack in job hunting. I'm knitting up a storm, thinking of more sewing projects, re-studying geology (watch for posts on the cool stuff), and wanting to spend more time on my skis (both cross-country and downhill) - if this weather ever warms up. Oh, and hanging out with my cross-shift. Beyond that? I don't know - we'll see what comes my way!
|The Canadian Flag flying on the ridge above camp.|