Rescuers dig competitions

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Make-shift mines and staged emergencies invaded the parking lot outside of the Yellowknife Fieldhouse as mine rescue teams from across the North competed in the 61st Annual Mine Rescue Competition.

The competition that used to be held outside the Yellowknife Community Arena saw teams from eight different mines compete in 14 different competitions.

Andrew Furlong, left, and Rod Williams, members of the Gahcho Kue Mine Rescue Team check fire extinguishers during the firefighting competition, held June 1 as part of the NWT/NU Mine Rescue Competition. photo courtesy of Terry Kruger/De Beers

Seven of the eight teams were representing mines from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, with one mine flying in from Northern Ontario. Five teams competed in surface competitions while three competed in underground activities.

“There’s eight mines represented, there’s five surface teams and three underground teams, but everybody is one team,” said Lex Lovett, competition coordinator.

“If you’re here at the end of it all and you want it to all go away, everybody will go and get a refreshing beverage and then you’re going to see we’re all one team.”

While the event was a competition, Lovett says that it also serves as time for the teams to stay ready and to get tips and pointers on how to improve in the case that there is ever an emergency at the team’s home mine.

Lovett also went on to say that it shows the mines that they have help from capable rescue teams in case they ever need to look to their neighbors for help.

“In the NWT mine rescue is and always has been proactive, a lot of jurisdictions in Canada have built their programs as a result of having a catastrophe happen,” said Lovett.

“Being ready, being tested in mock scenarios in regards to them ever having to do it in real life keeps the teams sharp.”

A complete list of winners is below:

  • Surface First Aid – Baffinland Iron Mine (Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation)
  • Underground First Aid – Meliadine Gold Project (Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.)
  • Surface Practical Bench – Baffinland Iron Mine (Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation)
  • Fire Fighting – Ekati Diamond Mine (Dominion Diamond Corporation)
  • Surface Rope Rescue – Gahcho Kue Diamond Mine (De Beers Canada Inc.)
  • Underground Rope Rescue – Diavik Diamond Mine (Rio Tinto Ltd.)
  • Surface Written – Gahcho Kue Diamond Mine (De Beers Canada Inc.)
  • Underground Written – Diavik Diamond Mine (Rio Tinto Ltd.)
  • Surface Smoke – Baffinland Iron Mine (Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation)
  • Underground Smoke – Diavik Diamond Mine (Rio Tinto Ltd.)
  • Underground Bench – Diavik Diamond Mine (Rio Tinto Ltd.)
  • Surface Obstacle – Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine (De Beers Canada Inc.)
  • Underground Obstacle – Diavik Diamond Mine (Rio Tinto Ltd.)
  • Overall Surface – Gahcho Kue Diamond Mine (De Beers Canada Inc.)
  • Overall Underground – Diavik Diamond Mine (Rio Tinto Ltd.)
  • Bench Tech – Brad Towle, Emergency Response Coordinator at TMAC Resources Inc.