The life of a coal miner in southeastern B.C.

Jeremy Lane appreciates his work as a heavy-equipment operator with Teck Coal and the lifestyle it affords

by Karen Kornelsen

Being a coal miner in the mountains of southeastern British Columbia was not something Jeremy Lane grew up thinking he would be. But after two years of working at Teck Coal's Coal Mountain operation near Sparwood, B.C., Lane is not looking back.

The 39-year-old from Lethbridge, Alberta, was running his own business but had the urge to try something new in life. A friend told him about mining and he gave it a shot.

The life of a coal miner is sitting well with Lane. Not only does he love the work but the job also gives him plenty of time to spend with his wife and two kids, ages nine and 13.

Mining & Exploration had a chance recently to ask Lane what the life of a coal miner is really all about.

Why did you decide to go into the mining industry?

I was running my own business doing a hot shot service (oil and construction deliveries) trucking in Lethbridge but really wanted to make a change and try something new. I heard of mining through a friend and gave it a try and have been loving every minute of it ever since.

What is your job at the mine?

I'm a heavy-equipment operator, so I run a haul truck and a loader and a Cat.

Can you walk me through a day in your life at work?

The schedule that I'm on is amazing. I work two days on, have 24 hours off, work two night shifts, then have four days off. It's great because it gives me lots of time to spend with my kids, Raina (13) and Asher (9).

When I'm working, I live with my mom in Pincher Creek (Alberta). I leave the house at 4:45 a.m. (and) drive to Hillcrest—which is about a 25-minute drive—to the bus stop. We then get on the bus which takes us to the mine. We get to the mine at around 6:20 a.m. and get ready to go to work. After that, we go to the wicket and get an assignment for the day. This is followed by a safety meeting, then it's off to work. My days are about 15 hours altogether.

What do you like most about your job?

I really appreciate how safe it is and how safely our crew works. We are incredibly safety orientated and I really like that. Our crew, G Crew, at Coal Mountain is the best crew I've ever worked for. They have very strong positive attitudes and are very safe workers.

I also really like how the schedule works, because it works great for seeing my kids and living the lifestyle that I live.

What do you hope for in regards to your future in the mining industry?

I hope to someday be a leader, like a lead-hand or a foreman. There's lots of opportunities for safe workers to advance at the mine.

You wrote a poem (see sidebar) about your job—can you tell me about it?

I was inspired to write the poem because being from Lethbridge—which is in the Prairies with no mountains in sight—I get to go to work at the top of a mountain with mountains all around us. It's really quite breathtaking, the scenery in which we work. With a lot of guys being from Sparwood—their dads are miners, their uncles are miners, some of them are third-generation miners—they don't all realize how beautiful it really is. Myself, coming from where I come from, I see it as absolutely awe-inspiring. I just wanted to put into words how amazing it is what we do.

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