Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fool's Gold

I am a fully certified 777F Rock Haulage Truck Operator. One week training completed at Agnico Eagle Mine on that particular heavy equipment following a ten week training course at O.E.T.I.O in Morrisburg, ON. What does a 777F Caterpillar Rock Haul Truck look like you ask? See the below picture to ease your curious mind.

The trucks dimensions are 21.2 feet wide, 17 feet high, 34.50 feet in length. It weighs in at approximately 161,555 lbs. Unloaded. It can haul over it's suggested haulage weight of 100 tonnes. This truck probably falls in the top 5 of world's biggest rock trucks. The biggest in the world is the Terex Titan. Pictured below.

The Terex Titan's dimensions are 24 feet wide, 22 feet high and a whopping 65 feet long. It takes 8 lanes to turn the mammoth beast. The sole duty of the rock truck is simply to transport material from point A to point B. Are the trucks difficult to operate? No, not at all. They are simply like a vehicle of any other you yourself may drive only on a bigger scale. How fast do they go? We have six gears, top speed being approximately 47 km/h. The tires are huge and extremely durable but care must still be taken as to avoid driving over sharp edged rocks and other sorts of debris in the way. We fuel up once a day, even though the trucks don't use that much fuel in a day. As an operator we must perform our daily start up safety procedures to ensure the machine is in good working order. A complete 5 minute inspection is done. 2 to 3 minutes for a walk around of the machine is required to check for anything that may be abnormal such as leaks on the ground, cracked hoses, anything loose and levels of fluids and fuel.

Once done, we enter the cab of the mighty machine. Here we perform a self diagnostic test simply by turning the key into the on position, not start. The gauges on the dash will come to life and light up, the electrical system checks itself. Here we perform the secondary steering test. We check all lights, signals and horn and wipers are working. Once completed, we honk the horn and may start the truck. Now that it is started we now may perform our brake tests. The park brake, service brake and secondary brake test must be completed as well as a manual retarder test. The retarder system basically acts as a way of fine braking the vehicle to a slow from a faster speed. It is not a way of braking, but just to slow us down without over heating the brakes themselves. Then we perform a reverse neutralize test. This makes sure we can reverse the machine and dump the load while using the secondary brake to hold the vehicle at a stop while dumping, letting go of the secondary brake will allow the truck to roll about one and a half truck lengths forward which is enough time for our box to come down. This is the legal distance to operate the machine going forward. The second last test we perform before pulling away is the TCS, or traction control system test. The system kicks in should the primary steering ever should fail, the secondary gives us about a minute of steering time. Finally we lift the box just about eye level to ensure the hydraulics are functional. Once done, we do a radio check, honk once and pull away.

Meetings in the mornings will inform us of where we need to be when we roll out. The mine is much like a small town and is growing every month so we have a map with a legend on it so we know where we are and where we are going. Thus, our day has begun at 6:30 am or pm. The days/nights are both 12 hour shifts. The mine never sleeps. It is always alive 365 days a year 24 hours a day. I fly on a charter plan an hour to the Meadowbank site, where I will be for the next two weeks. This is now my home away from home. When the two weeks is over, I fly back and have two glorious weeks off. My pay is very lucrative. My flights, lodging, meals are all paid for. I pay for nothing on site. Laundry is also free. So what is the food like? We have a team of french chefs in the biggest fully stocked kitchen I have ever seen. It would put most restaurants to shame in a heartbeat. We even have our very own pasta chef every dinner who will cook your favorite kind of pasta right in front of you after you make your selection of which ingredients you want in it. Green & red bell peppers, red or green onion, shrimp, crab, oyster tongues, pesto sauce, regular spaghetti sauce, sausages, zucchini, whatever they have, you can pick and choose. The kitchen in the morning has a wide selection of breakfast and a fruit buffet with yogurts, cheeses, vegetables. If that isn't enough, we have our very own pastry chef with two long tables full of pastry's available as well as prepackaged sandwiches, and juice boxes and fruits for you to pack for the day. If that still isn't enough, stop by the sandwich table to make your own sandwiches with choices of white or whole wheat bread and pita breads and sandwich meats. Oh, we also have coffee. Of course!

Right now as I type this I am 3700 in the air flying home. I am 20 minutes away from landing after my first week of training. I return in a week's time to officially start my first week of employment.....................ok, the dots represent hours later. I am home now and finishing this thing off lol. So anyway, the mine is a great spot to pick up a lot of experience, friends and of course financial gain. Check out some of the pictures below.

This is what it's all about.

Recent, maybe last year.

Just starting.

In the beginning.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Leaving The Rock

Today is our (Melissa & mine) last day on the Rock with family and as much as I want to get back to Rankin Inlet to begin working I also feel I am leaving a part of us behind. As you see below, the family keeps getting bigger. The Dunphy's have now conjoined with the McKay's and the Burton's. Together we have come to love one another just as if we were always family for many years.

I hate leaving Newfoundland but I know there is always a return date in the future which keeps me going throughout the year while anticipating our return. I have had an awesome summer this year and the year before wasn't too shabby either for my first time here. Next summer will be hard to beat. But with Allison, my youngest sister in law and her boyfriend Stefan Mackie, Lori my other sister in law and her husband (and brother in law/buddy as I like to think of him) Matt McKay, and my inlaw parents, Gord & Jocelyn Dunphy, we always seem to find ways to enjoy each others company and get on each others nerves all at the same time! That is what makes us a family.

With two weddings this summer back to back, it has been a hectic summer. I have immensely enjoyed my stay with the Dunphy's and the now, McKay's, have been absolutely awesome. Off to Winnipeg tomorrow then back to the great white north on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Return of the Prince

Ok so you thought I dropped off the face of the earth maybe? Spent some time reading other blogs did you? Where have I been you ask? If you stuck with me as a committed reader to my blog you would know I was last heading off to Morrisburg, ON for heavy equipment training for ten weeks. Well, I finished and am certified to drive just about any piece of heavy machinery. To add to that, Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd has invited me for a one week training stint with them August 11th till the 18th, to which of course I said "Hell yes!".

Did I also mention I got married 4 weeks ago?! Whew, a lot has happened this summer for sure. Anyway, yes the marriage was a HUGE success and I will be posting as many of the photos as I possibly can once I figure out a way to dedicate just a page to photos on here.

I just wanted to throw up a brief blog post to let you all know I am alive and well and will do my utmost best to keep my blogs updated once again now that my summer vacation has come to an end. Cheers!