NANA Partners with Technical Center to Train Driller Helpers

As companies prepare to begin core drilling near Red Dog Mine this spring, 16 northwest Alaska residents were trained in the basics of assisting drillers, in hopes of becoming employed. The Core Driller’s Helper Training program is a collaborative effort between NANA Development Corporation’s subsidiary, Tuuq Drilling, LLC, subcontractor Ruen Drilling, Incorporated, and the Alaska Technical Center in Kotzebue. The 40-hour course includes a combination of classroom instruction and hands on learning.

Although no jobs are guaranteed, Thom Schmidt, health, safety and environmental director for Ruen Drilling, said training events like these are a great opportunity to scout out local talent, as the company gets ready to drill at the nearby Red Dog Mine, one of the largest producers of zinc in the world. “Some of the guys, even ones who have never worked in mining before, really showed an aptitude for the work,” said Schmidt.

Tuuq Drilling General Manager Mike Baker said up to 20 entry-level workers are needed to help, as NANA looks for more core deposits at Red Dog and possibly at Bornite in the Ambler Mining District 200 miles away. “Tuuq doesn’t have people trained on the drills. In our partnership with Ruen, we have similar goals, like getting the work and making a profit. But we also have a goal of helping NANA shareholders learn to drill and eventually have a company run completely by the shareholders,” said Baker.

The training ended March 30, with an additional 16 hours of Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) training. A critical component of training for anyone wishing to work in the mining industry.

Tuuq Drilling is planning another round of Core Driller’s Helper Training near the end of April to prepare for up to twelve additional positions.