February 28, 2011

Prince George  – Several employees from Northgate Minerals Kemess South Mine are today among an inaugural group of Canadian mining workers to receive national certification through the Canadian Mining Credentials Program. Developed by the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) and members of industry, the program is the cornerstone of the mining industry's efforts to recognize the skills, knowledge and experience of its workforce.

The group represents a selection of Canada’s first underground miners, surface miners and minerals processing operators to achieve nationally recognized certification. This is a historic event in Canadian mining because until now, unlike the trades, skilled workers in these occupations have never before been awarded an industry-recognized credential that supports mobility and retention within the mining workforce.

Kemess Mine workers who have achieved certification will be awarded certificates in two recognition ceremonies taking place February 28 and March 1 at the Kemess South Mine site.

Certification is something both employers and workers have been waiting for. 

“Unlike a tradesperson that goes through an apprenticeship to gain their qualifications nationally or provincially, equipment operators have to endure the same training over and over every time they start with a new company.  For some, this can be frustrating because they have done the same job for many years,” explains Jerrold Jewsbury, Safety Coordinator for Kemess Mine. 

“Through the MiHR certification process, the equipment operators have a similar opportunity as the trades to carry a national “red seal” in their profession, giving them the recognition that they have earned and deserve for the past many years in the industry. By working together with MiHR, we are bringing a sense of pride and accomplishment back into the workforce.”

Jewsbury, also the site’s Workplace Assessor in the pilot program, says certification will have a positive impact on employees as they begin transitioning to new jobs when the mine, which has been operating for 14 years, stops production and closes in mid-2011.

“Northgate is committed to the successful transition of Kemess employees to their new jobs.  Participation in the MiHR certification pilot project was the perfect venue to use to structure our training program to match the new standards,” explains Jewsbury. “It was thought that this would give Kemess employees a step up for future endeavors. With the MiHR passport in hand the employees will be able to attend job interviews with pride knowing they are certified nationally and there will be no question in regards to their credentials.” 

The Kemess Mine is one of seven sites that participated in the certification pilot across Canada in 2010. Other participating sites participating include:

•    Xstrata Zinc’s Brunswick Mine in Bathurst, New Brunswick
•    Cementation, at Totten Mine in Sudbury, Ontario and Trout Lake Mine in Manitoba
•    Rio Tinto, Diavik Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories
•    Teck Coal’s Greenhills Operation in British Columbia
•    Teck Resources - Highland Valley Copper, British Columbia

MiHR’s latest research estimates between now and 2020, the mining industry will require approximately 100,000 workers to support growth in the industry and replace retiring workers.  Approximately 20 per cent of these new hires will be required in skilled occupations that have, until now, lacked a national recognition system, including production miners, development miners, heavy equipment operators and mill operators. 

The certification program will be an essential component in increasing and retaining the valuable skills required to keep the mining industry sustainable. Without a formal credentialing framework for these jobs, employers may struggle to evaluate the qualifications of experienced candidates and may end up wasting time and resources retraining new hires in areas where they have already demonstrated competency in the workplace.  Furthermore, employees with skills sets that are not recognized by their industry can become frustrated and may seek opportunities elsewhere.  A recent MiHR survey of mining industry employers revealed that turnover in these occupations is almost twice as high as other mining sector jobs.  
MiHR and this project are funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program. The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.
About the Canadian Mining Credentials Program
The Canadian Mining Credentials Program is the cornerstone of the mining industry's efforts to recognize the skills, knowledge and experience of mining workers, provide workers with portable credentials, accredit training programs for mining workers and enable employers to accurately and consistently verify the skills and experience of job applicants and support ongoing professional recognition for their employees.

The program is founded on a set of mining industry National Occupational Standards. So far, National Occupational Standards have been developed for three key mining occupational areas: Underground Mining, Surface Mining and Minerals Processor Operations. National Occupational Standards for Diamond Drilling are currently being developed.

The National Occupational Standards provide the basis for the certification program. The first of its kind for this country's mining industry, the certification program assesses the skills of mining industry workers and provides these workers with portable credentials based on their experience and skill levels. Credentials earned through the system provide employers with a valuable tool with which to verify the skills of workers coming from different regions of Canada. Equally important, the certification enables mining workers to access employment opportunities across the country by providing them with an industry-based portable credential.

About the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR)
MiHR is the sector council for Canada’s minerals and metals industry. MiHR contributes to the strength, competiveness and sustainability of the Canadian mining industry by collaborating with all communities of interest in the development and implementation of solutions to the industry’s national HR challenges. For more information, visit

For more information contact:

Alana Kennedy
Director of Marketing & Communications, MiHR
(613) 270-9696 x 41
[email protected]

Lindsay Forcellini
Marketing & Communications Coordinator, MiHR
(613) 270-9696 x 58
[email protected]