Local shift boss blazing the way for women

Heather Smart is the first women in the Kootenays in ten years to receive this certification

Heather Smart poses with her certificate as the first women in a decade to earn this credential in the Kootenays. (Photo submitted)

Heather Smart poses with her certificate as the first women in a decade to earn this credential in the Kootenays. (Photo submitted)

Heather Smart, a Golden resident and employee at Vitreo Minerals (formerly Northern Silica), has become the first woman in the Kootenay region in the last decade to receive her open pit shift boss supervisor certification.

The certification was a test that required Smart to have working knowledge of the Mines Act regulations and the mines code, as well as the guiding principals that covers all mines in BC.

The guiding principles cover everything from workplace safety to working with equipment and different standards and inspections, as well as environmental regulations.

The knowledge had to be off the top of your head, according to Smart, with no ability to reference any book or quickly google something.

Preparation for the test, that had both a verbal and written components, took hours of studying, according to Smart.

For Smart, earning her credentials seemed like a natural progression for her career and a good asset to the team at Vitreo Minerals.

“I think it’s great to have people on site who know their stuff, even if we’re not always mining, because we still have to abide by those regulations,” said Smart.

“We were lacking somebody who had a good working knowledge of the code and I knew I could learn everything involved.

“I want to be involved in the development of our policies and the oversight of safety on our site…I knew it would be a good challenge.”

For Smart, the fact that women haven’t been earning their credentials comes as a surprise, considering the breadth of the mining industry and its importance in B.C.’s economy.

“There haven’t been a lot of women stepping into management and oversight which I’m shocked about, but excited that I’ve been able to take this step,” said Smart.

“Maybe other women haven’t had the same opportunities. I’m happy to work for a company where I’ve always felt like I had the opportunity to work here and advance.

“I’ve always been treated with respect and given opportunities to work and grow.”

Smart hopes to see others start to earn their credentials as well. “Don’t hesitate to do anything because times have changed,” said Smart.

“All the opportunities are there, with the right attitude and determination, you can make it happen.”

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