GROW Grade 12 student Warner Brown-Davis gets some pointers from Mount Polley equipment operator Jody Scheer Friday morning at School District 27's Heavy Metal Rocks program taking place at the Centennial Gravel Pit on Bond Lake Road.

GROW Grade 12 student Warner Brown-Davis gets some pointers from Mount Polley equipment operator Jody Scheer Friday morning at School District 27's Heavy Metal Rocks program taking place at the Centennial Gravel Pit on Bond Lake Road.

Students learning hands-on with Heavy Metal Rocks

School District 27's Heavy Metal Rocks program is underway at the Centennial Gravel Pit near Williams Lake.

There’s a whole lot of moving and shaking going on at the Centennial Gravel Pit near Williams Lake where students enrolled in School District 27’s Heavy Metal Rocks program are getting hands-on training.

“We have 11 students from Lake City Secondary, eight from Peter Skene Ogden and four from GROW,” said David Corbett, the district’s coordinator of career programs Friday morning as big machines moved around in the background. “We’ve been here since Wednesday afternoon and will finish up Saturday.”

Students apply to take the program and go through an interview with industry representatives before being accepted.

This year 32 applied and 23 were selected, Corbett said.

Once the students are accepted, and before they attend Heavy Metal Rocks, they take courses to obtain certificates for Occupational First Aid, WHMIS and the BC Construction Safety Alliance.

“We are trying not only to give them experience with equipment, but make sure they have other certifications and skills they will need to get a good job,” Corbett said.

And before heading to the gravel pit last Wednesday, the students spent the morning at TRU receiving training and presentations from the Construction Safety Alliance of B.C., WorkSafeBC, Orica Canada Inc., BC Hydro and Brent Graham Ltd. Environmental Services.

Then they spent the afternoon preparing the Centennial Pit, which involved cleaning up a lot of garbage.

“This site has been set up as an actual reclamation project,” Corbett said.

Starting Thursday morning the students began spending one and a half hours at each station working with a professional trainer on a machine.

Beamac crane operator Cary Olson said he wished the program existed when he was in school.

“There’s no better learning than hands-on,” Olson said. “The weather and the people are great. It’s awesome.”

After his session with Olson, Lake City Secondary Grade 12 student Magnus Satre said learning to operate a crane was “pretty cool.”

“There’s definitely a lot of math involved with the angles,” Satre said.

In the future Satre hopes to start his own excavating company or take over his father’s, he said.

For Peter Skene Odgen Secondary student Wesley Silverton, the experience at Heavy Metal Rocks builds on the skills he gained at a mine course he took at Taseko Gibraltar in Grade 8, he said.

“I enjoy the learning and operating all the different equipment,” Silverton said. “It’s going really well.”

Presently he is taking skills and exploration and mechanics at school and after graduation plans to study automotive mechanics at TRU in Kamloops.

Shayne Heintz, senior training co-ordinator with Taseko Gibraltar, said the students always love trying the 930 Komatsu Haul Truck simulator the company brings to Heavy Metal Rocks each year.

“I have a purpose-built scenario for the students in the stimulator where they spend a virtual half an hour hauling a couple of loads to the crusher at our mine,” Heintz said.

At the end of the stimulation the students get a print out showing them any error points.

“Less points is better, just like golf,” Heintz smiled. “I tell them driving a haul truck is like driving a house around.”

Without stakeholder involvement the program would not happen, said SD 27 Assistant Superintendent Harj Manhas.

“I am thankful to the community for all their assistance — the equipment and the time. Just being a part of the lives of some of our SD 27 students is great.”

Manhas said during his tour of the site he noticed that a number of his former students were there as operators.

“They are helping the next generation,” he said.