We’ve all had jobs that keep us running in circles. We go around and around, covering the same ground over and over. Lucky the 10,000-metre runners. At least they have a finish line, and the winner takes a victory lap.
Last week, I took not a victory lap, but a Victor lap when I was invited to visit De Beers Canada’s Victor mine, the first diamond producer in Ontario.
The wintery month not withstanding, I jumped at the opportunity to visit this new mine in the James Bay Lowlands. We had a beautiful, sunny day that brought smiles to everyone’s face. Or perhaps it was the shift change. After two weeks on site, there was an outgoing crew grinning ear-to-ear as it passed the incoming crew on the landing strip. But the smiles on the incoming crew were just as wide.
When I see over 300 people happy with what they are doing, I think the workplace must be something special. The Victor mine is such a place. First Nations members make up over 40% of the workforce, and their cultural icons are woven seamlessly into the residence, dining hall and offices.
De Beers made exceptional efforts to work with the local First Nations throughout exploration and construction. The company consulted and continues to rely on traditional environmental knowledge to ensure minimal project impact. It also established training programs so that community members could participate in the workforce and its many well-paying jobs. The impact benefits agreements that were signed are having a real, positive effect on communities such as Moosonee and Attawapiskat.
I am acutely aware that when I visit a mining site, my arrival interrupts the very busy schedules of many people. Allow me to express my heartfelt thanks:
• to Tom Ormsby, who made my visit happen, spent an entire day with me on site and found me a desk in his Timmins office where I completed my writing.
• to general manager Peter Mah for making time to speak with me not only in his office at the mine but in the Timmins airport.
• to mine manager Peter Greyvensteyn and process and maintenance manager Ian Holl for tutoring me in their respective operations. They are also the only South Africans at the mine.
• to the kitchen staff for their tasty food and the numerous other administrative and maintenance people who keep the Victor site running efficiently.
• to the flight crews of Air Creebec for a safe and uneventful charter.
My in-depth article about the Victor diamond project will appear in the January 2009 issue of Canadian Mining Journal. Don’t miss it.