Environmental Permitting Manager

Environmental Permitting Manager

Loralee Johnston, Environmental Permitting Manager

Loralee Johnston Environmental Permitting ManagerAs part of our Careers in Mining series, this post looks at the job of Environmental Permitting Manager with Loralee Johnstone of JDS Energy and Mining Inc.

Loralee graduated from Yukon College with a diploma in Renewable Resource Management, an Office Management diploma, and a certificate in Project Management. In Loralee’s initial career as Fish and Wildlife Technician, she conducted research to assist in the management of populations of many species. After transferring to a new community with her husband’s job, Loralee took a position as Mining Lands Officer, conducting environmental assessments and permitting of mining projects in the region. She was promoted to Manager of the Mayo Designated Office of Yukon Environmental Assessment Board, managing the assessment of countless exploration projects. Loralee has been Manager of Permitting and Community Relations with JDS Mining since 2012. 

What is your main role as Environmental Permitting Manager?
My role as an Environmental Permitting Manager for JDS is different on each project that I am involved in. It is dependent on the stage of the project and how much experience the client has with the regulatory and permitting regime. In some cases I represent the client as the permitting lead for the company. In other circumstances I will review what has already been done and make recommendations on how to optimize or expedite the process.

What came first - a desire to go into mining, or the desire to go into the Environmental Sciences?
Although I am thrilled to be working in the mining sector, my first passion, and what I studied in post-secondary, was environmental sciences. I have been lucky to have had great jobs working in the field and assessing fish and wildlife populations. Now I put that knowledge and experience into helping clients design projects that minimize the potential impact on the environment.

Is your job mostly office based or do you spend more time at mine/exploration sites?
My job requires a great deal of travel because my home is in the Yukon, and we work on projects all over the world. I travel regularly to Vancouver where our office is. In addition, I have been to Latin America, Arizona and many parts of Canada to do site visits. I probably spend more than half of my time in the office, and the remainder of my time in the field. I sincerely enjoy the folks that I work with and the environment that I work in so I love the office as well. My job is diverse, affording me the opportunity to work from home from time to time, which is especially nice during the winter months when it can be very cold out.

Has your job allowed you to travel? If so, where to?
Yes, as stated above, I have had the opportunity to travel to many places. I have been to Nicaragua, Arizona, Yukon, Vancouver, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia in the past year with multiple visits to some locations. I have enjoyed seeing the varying types of landscapes from rain forests and deserts to the Rocky Mountains and coast to coast in Canada. I have met some amazing people and the more I travel to sites and meet clients, the more I like the industry. I am always learning new things and being exposed to other languages and cultures – things many people don’t ever get the chance to experience.

If you are away from home for extended periods, what makes you the type of person that can do this successfully?
I have been away from home for extended periods of up to three weeks, though most trips are typically less than two weeks. I love to travel and see new sites and I have the support I need at home that allows me to be away. I am not a scheduled person who is set on any routine so the ‘take it as it comes’ lifestyle works for me. I am inspired by new opportunities and in this job they seem to present themselves very regularly. Yet, at the end of a trip, no matter where I go, I still look forward to getting home. 

What does your average day look like?
There really is no average day in my job. I always have a list of tasks that I intend to accomplish in the day and usually before noon something comes up and I am pulled in another direction for at least part of the day. Usually when I am on a site visit or at a client’s property, I will begin the day by answering any emails I have, spend the day touring the site, have dinner and return to emails to catch up on other projects. During an office day, I head in to the office and work on my task list, and manage questions and high priority items as they come up. If I am in our Vancouver office, usually some of the other out of town staff will go for dinner together or out for some physical activity. Every day we make ourselves available to clients by phone or email, or in person as required. I will often attend meetings with potential clients to discuss how we can assist with their permitting and environmental needs. 

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The people I have met and now work with, hands down!

What do you love most about your job?
I love the endless possibilities of where my job can go. In just over one year with JDS, I feel like I have grown as a person and a professional. I am blessed to work with driven, brilliant and fun people who inspire me to work hard and have fun at it. 

There must be aspects of the job which you don't enjoy so much. What are they?
My least favourite part of the job, and I had to dig for this one, is keeping track of my time so I can accurately bill clients. There are days where I am working for four or five clients. I have never been particularly fond of keeping track of everything I do, but if I don't do it every day, it can be a challenge to keep track of. Really, it’s a small thing to have to do when you love your job.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow a similar career path?
As long as you are driven to work hard and strive for positive outcomes, it’s a career worth pursuing. There are so many aspects of the mining sector and so much to learn. I certainly encourage anyone interested to go for it! As I stated earlier, the people are amazing and the opportunities are endless. 

For more interviews with mining professionals in different jobs, have a look at our main Careers in Mining post.

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