As part of our Careers in Mining series, this post looks at the job of Senior Process Engineer with Julia Gartley of Taseko.
Julia was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario and studied Mining Engineering (with a focus on Mineral Processing) at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. After graduation in 2006 she moved out to Calgary, Alberta where she worked with an engineering firm. Her next role was working at a fly-in fly-out mining camp in northern Yukon. She worked 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, which was lots of time away at work but allowed her a lot of time for adventures! Her current role is based in beautiful Vancouver, BC where she lives with her two dogs. She loves to travel, and has travelled coast to coast in Canada, as well as parts of South and Central America, the US, Europe and South-East Asia. She is always up for an adventure, whether it is strolling the Vancouver seawall with her dogs, or hopping on a plane to a far off destination!
What is your main role as Senior Process Engineer?
Currently I am working on developing a process for extracting an uncommon metal in a new deposit. This includes working with the lab that performs all of the experiments, and also working with the other engineers that will help to design and build the process plant.
What came first - a desire to go into mining, or the desire to become an Engineer?
For me the desire to become an Engineer came before going into mining. This was mostly because I was good at math and science in high school and thought that Engineering would be a good fit in University.
Is your job mostly office based or do you spend more time at mine/exploration sites?
Now my job is more based in the office, however, I do spend about a third of my time at the lab, and depending on my responsibilities I have spent some time at operating mine sites.
Has your job allowed you to travel? If so, where to?
My current role has allowed me to travel for conferences, training courses and site visits. I have visited many cities in BC. I have also been able to visit labs in Ontario, and attend conferences in Ontario and the US. Previously I worked at a mining camp in the Yukon, which allowed me to explore a big part of the Yukon.
If you are away from home for extended periods, what makes you the type of person that can do this successfully?
I am generally not away for extended periods of time.
What does your average day look like?
I have to communicate with the lab to determine which experiments we will perform and how. I also communicate with the other engineers to confirm design criteria. Also - there is a lot of work to be done in terms of budgeting - this means developing an estimate of how much the work will cost and making sure that you follow that budget.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career so far has been the project that I am currently working on. I am working on developing a specialized process for an uncommon metal that only a few other companies produce. It is very exciting to be given such an important task.
What do you love most about your job?
The people! There are so many great people that work in mining and support you. It is great to have such a supportive network of peers.
There must be aspects of the job which you don't enjoy so much. What are they?
My current role is focused mostly in the office so sometimes I miss being out in the field. It is often times a challenge to be inside all day, especially when it is nice outside, however, when it is cold and rainy out being indoors doesn't seem that bad!
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow a similar career path?
Definitely do it! There are so many opportunities and so many different directions you can take a career in mining, and it has been overall so rewarding!
For more interviews with mining professionals in different jobs, have a look at our main Careers in Mining post.