Many of you know that I recently started a new job. It feels like there have been a lot of beginnings around that time, including the beginning of this business. The reason I took this job is because it sounded like a challenge with a great group of people. And that is exactly what it has become. I work for an open pit coal company and I am the engineer in charge of reclamation and dams. It is a large mine that has been in operation for many decades. My background is in underground hardrock mining. This place is not underground and it is not hardrock so suffice to say, it is out of my comfort zone.
Right now I’m focusing on reclamation and the dams portion of my position is being handled by someone else until I get a bit more up to speed. There is a lot that goes into reclamation, from creating the correct landscape, use of topsoil and subsoil, creating waterbodies, revegetation and considering fish, birds and other wildlife. I have seen more bears in my month here than any other time in my life. When you consider all of these aspects that need to work together and get done in the correct order without any waste, you start to realize what a challenge it is. Then, you add legacy issues; things that were not done properly or fully way back when and need to be completed now. That’s when the real fun begins.
This job also comes with some logistical issues for my family. It is infinitely better than being in Ontario but I am still far away for a substantial amount of time. I work Monday through Thursday, catching the bus just before 5am, starting work at 6am. I finish at 4pm and get home just after 5pm. Thankfully, the company I work for provides a bus to get you back and forth between town and the mine. I have to commute from my home to my apartment each week which is a five hour drive each way. Between the long days at work, unpacking at the apartment, and all of the appointments I’ve had while I’m home, it has been incredibly busy. But at least I am home every weekend, usually for a long weekend. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask. And, no matter where I am or where I look, the scenery is beautiful. If you're wondering about the pictures, the first one is a female grizzly bear that I surprised (and she surprised me too!) while driving at the mine. You can also see her two cubs. After I took this photo, she went back to sleep because she was not worried about me. The other picture is of two male grizzlies, fairly young and small. One was afraid of me and the other was not. Seeing how those two acted really gave me a sense that it is good if the bears are not afraid of you because then they are calm and don't make sudden or unusual moves. That being said, you never want to take advantage of their clam nature and assume you are safe.