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Diamond drilling careers for Arviat

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 19, 2011

Eleven residents of Arviat are now waiting anxiously for phone calls from mining companies after graduating from the hamlet's new diamond drilling program.

NNSL photo/graphic

Trainees Kelly Kigusiutnar, left, and David Tassiuk unload drill core inside the diamond drill rig. - photo courtesy of John Main/Hamlet of Arviat

The group is the first to complete the 10-week Arviat Diamond Driller's Training Program, which included classroom and hands-on training at a diamond drilling rig - shipped into the hamlet for the program, which launched in September.

"I've wanted to become a driller's assistant for the longest time," graduate Lucien Kabvitok, 49, said, counting himself fortunate that the program was established in his hometown.

"I guess I was blessed or something."

Kabvitok, who previously worked as a labourer at construction sites and did maintenance for government buildings, said he wants his 11-year-old son Hamish to follow in his footsteps.

"I'll teach him what I know," Kabvitok said.

Graduate Matthew Issumatarjuak, 23, was inspired to pursue a career in diamond drilling by his father.

"My father was a driller for one third of his life and when I was a boy he would tell me stories about it," Issumatarjuak said, also thanking the companies and instructors that are helping him achieve his dream.

Employment has been guaranteed for graduates of the program by Orbit Garant Drilling Inc. and drilling products and services company Boart Longyear, who are contracted by Meadowbank Gold Mine proponent Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd., and other mining companies across Nunavut.

The three companies also contributed to the program in funds and kind.

The equipment and tools needed to establish the program, including a new diamond drill rig that was shipped to the Hamlet by sealift from Quebec, cost almost $1 million, and the cost for each class of 12 students is about $250,000.

Approval of the program - which will now be open to residents of other Kivalliq communities - was announced last July by Arviat Mayor Bob Leonard.

"The equation seems pretty simple," Leonard said at the time. "There is a big demand for diamond drillers to support mining exploration and development in the region. There is a huge and willing labour force in the Kivalliq.

"This training course will provide the skills residents need to get these jobs."

The program, which is the first diamond driller's program in the territory, was funded in part by the Government of Canada's Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership Program.

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