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No Harm to People, Environment, Assets, or Reputation

Posted on August 10, 2023

While the road to restarting the Mount Polley mine in B.C.’s Central Interior has been long and challenging, it has been made considerably less bumpy thanks to two influential JDS leaders -Jason Parenteau and Chris Potorieko.

Nearly a decade after one of the largest mine spills in the province’s history sent 24 million cubic metres of waste rock and tailings into nearby waterways, Imperial Metals, with the support of JDS, successfully restarted full-scale production of the gold and copper mine in early 2023.

“We have done it all since we got here in 2021,” says Jason, a Mine Engineer with JDS since November 2021. “We have to wear many hats, as a lot of engineers do, but this is quite exceptional. It’s a challenge, but that’s part of the reason I came to JDS. It’s more hands-on than a lot of jobs, and more about getting the work done.”

As part of a $5-million, full-service, contract mining agreement, Jason’s job at Mt. Polley runs the gamut from drill-and-blast and waste rock design to geotechnical support and production tracking.

Another key aspect of the project involves training employees in everything from health and safety oversight to shovel and drill operation. “The Canadian mining industry doesn’t have the same pool of trained and qualified people it did 15 to 20 years ago,” says Chris, a Process Supervisor and Metallurgist with JDS since 2013. “So I’ve been sharing my experiences, mentoring my metallurgical crew around areas of concern, and helping them understand and monitor the little idiosyncrasies of the process plant. That way, when something’s not right, they know to investigate it.”

Jason echoes Chris and describes this skill as “having all your senses open. When you do a walkthrough of a plant, you have to listen to any changes in its heartbeat. One day, you might hear a certain sound in a certain area. The next day, that sound is gone. It could be nothing, but it could also be a problem waiting to happen. So dig into all your senses, stay alert, and stay aware.”

JDS leads the way when it comes to this kind of on-the-job skills development, Jason says. “It’s not an overbearing or overly managerial company.  At JDS we encourage our people to be proactive. If you tell your boss or your supervisor that you notice something, and it turns out to be nothing, at least you took the initiative. But if it turns out to be a problem, then you might have just saved the day.”

Chris adds that this approach also favours career diversity and ambition. “JDS gives you the opportunity to work in several different plants, and to learn from what each is doing right or wrong. As a leader, I’m responsible for sharing those experiences with my team, and applying them to the next place I go.”

Mt Polley, Central Interior B.C.