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Open & Honest Communication Shared Both Internally and With Customers

Posted on August 10, 2023

Rob Gutowski has a message for the next generation of Canadian engineers: As a career path, mining is making a major comeback.

Nine years into his career with JDS, the Project and Engineering Manager sees himself “continuing to commission more and bigger projects, but also becoming more of a mentor for young professionals coming into the field. We’ve known about a generation gap in the mining industry for quite some time now, which is why I’m heavily focused on understanding the requirements for young engineers to get their professional designations, and making sure they get a wide range of experience early on.”

At 39, Rob says he is one of the relatively few engineers who chose to specialize in mining during the early 2000s, when a tarnished resource industry, flagging commodity prices, and a rush to dot-com careers combined to empty mine-engineering classrooms.

Two decades later, much has changed. “Canada is now at the forefront of mining best practices. We are the global model of how to do it the right way, which is why a lot of investment goes into Canadian mining, and a lot more young people are getting involved.”

The young engineers who work alongside Rob have much to learn from the diverse projects he has managed. “From accounting and financial modelling to mechanical and process design, the wide range of responsibilities is a challenge I enjoy,” he says, citing Victoria Gold’s Eagle Mine in Yukon as a prime example. 

Rob’s commissioning work at Eagle, the largest gold mine in Yukon history, supported the design and construction of a three-stage crushing plant, a 1.3-kilometre overland conveyor, Phase 1 of a 160,000-square-metre heap leach facility, and a 2,000-cubic-metre absorption, desorption and refining (ADR) plant. JDS also managed the construction of a 46-km powerline and substation, water management structures, and site access roads, and expanded the mine camp to 450 beds.

The memorable moments Rob has collected, meanwhile, serve as both inspiration and motivation. “JDS has a track record of delivering projects on time and on budget,” he says. “At Eagle, we poured gold a month ahead of schedule. The same goes for first gold at the Madsen Mine Project in Ontario, and we did it there at the height of COVID in December 2020.”

At Madsen, Rob worked with the JDS team to refurbish equipment and infrastructure from previous mining activities and install new processing equipment.

“Setting and achieving these kinds of goals with a group of like-minded people really gets me going,” Rob says. “It’s like any team sport: when you combine proven winners with a proven strategy, all you do is win.”

Victoria Gold Eagle Mine, Yukon