Community spirit shines at the 2024 Northern Mine Rescue Competition and Miners’ Picnic

Emergency Response Teams (ERT) from seven mines across the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the United States, gathered in Yellowknife on June 14 and 15, to showcase their skills at the 2024 Northern Mine Rescue Competition.

The event featured simulated emergency response scenarios in both surface and underground mining environments, where participants had to work collaboratively under pressure to handle major or prolonged emergency situations that could occur at any of the mine sites. Teams took part in firefighting, first aid, practical bench tests, rope rescue, smoke search, obstacle rescue courses, and written exams probes, showcasing their in-depth skills and knowledge.

This year, participants from Kennecott Mine in Utah and Resolution Copper Project in Arizona joined the event for the first time competing as one team, representing Rio Tinto Copper. Overall participants included:

Surface Competition

  • Agnico Eagle Meadowbank Gold Mine (Nunavut)
  • Baffinland Mary River Mine (Nunavut)
  • Burgundy Ekati Diamond Mine (NWT)
  • De Beers Group/Mountain Province Diamonds Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine (NWT)

Underground Competition

  • Rio Tinto Copper (USA)
  • Agnico Eagle Meliadine Gold Mine (Nunavut)
  • Rio Tinto Diavik Diamond Mine (NWT)

Ekati’s team was comprised of seven ERT members who competed in the surface portion of the event: Jason Li, Peter West, Bobby McLean, Logan Andrew, Corinne Kraft-Bailey, Logan Balkwill, and Jake Hutchings. The team was awarded first place trophies for the practical bench test and the written exam portions of the Surface Mine Rescue Competition. Congratulations team!

Left to right: Jason Li, Peter West, Bobby McLean, Logan Andrew, Corinne Kraft-Bailey, Logan Balkwill, and Jake Hutchings, represented Ekati Diamond Mine and Burgundy at the 2024 Northern Mine Rescue Competition.

De Beers’ Gahcho Kué Mine won the overall Surface Mine Rescue Competition champion title, while Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine Mine took home the first place champion title for the overall Underground Mine Rescue Competition.

Logan Andrew, a first-time competitor for Burgundy Diamond Mines, praised the event for strengthening his emergency response skills and expressed his gratitude towards the guidance he received from his coaches.

“Being a part of the ERT team at Ekati is incredibly rewarding. Completing a mission and saving lives or preventing damage to operations is an amazing feeling,” Logan said. “The Northern Mine Rescue Competition was a rewarding experience, and I learned a lot in the process.”

In addition to inviting competitors to showcase and develop their skills, the mine rescue competition is a forum for relationship building and collaboration as mutual-aid partners between the mines.

“Collaboration is crucial in case we ever have to assist other mine sites during an emergency. It’s about building relationships, supporting the North, and ensuring a conduit between the mining industry and surrounding communities,” said David English, Superintendent, Health and Safety at Burgundy.

As thousands of spectators gathered over the two days to attend the competition, the Miners’ Picnic made a return debut for the first time since 2019. A crowd favourite, the event featured a free BBQ and family-friendly activities including face painting, balloon animals, mascots, a 50/50 draw, door prizes, and mining-related games such as diamond panning.

Over $1,000 dollars were raised, and 1,000 pounds of food were donated to the Salvation Army, as visitors were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for the food bank.

“It was great to see the community come together for the Miners’ Picnic and cheer on the competing ERT teams. This year’s competition was very successful, and we’ll build on it in 2025 to make it even better,” said Sheila Chernys, Head of Health, Safety, Environment & Communities.

Photos courtesy of Heather Johnston, Communications Student.

Logan Balkwill and Jake Hutchings, Ekati ERT members, competing in the Surface Rope Rescue challenge.
Peter West climbs a tower structure during the Surface Rope Rescue competition.
The Ekati mine rescue ERT performing a vehicle extrication during the Surface Mine Rescue Practical Competition.

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