Development Of A Stable Social Unit At The Black Angel Mine

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 790, 1978

P. J. Noakes, Director, Cominco Europe, Cominco Ltd., Vancouver, B.C.

Remote and isolated, located in a frigid, hostile environment, the Black Angel mine in Greenland had to create a warm social environment which would help attract and retain a stable work force of miners and support staff. The high cost of personnel turnover plagues many mines and, when the mine is inside the Arctic Circle, accessible by helicopters which are highly vulnerable to unpredictable weather conditions during the long, dark winters, the potential costs of personnel turnover become critical factors in the success or failure of the mining venture. Manpower planning should start from the date the engineers begin the technical design of the new mine. The plan should include provisions not only to ensure an adequate, skilled work force, but also to ensure a stable work force of people who are happy enough in the mining environment to want to remain, take their vacation and return to work at the mine. The skilled work force was assured with training courses of four months, designed to produce highly specialized underground workers from unskilled Danes and Greenlanders supported by trained Swedish and other Scandinavian miners. The stable social unit was assured by plans the primary attribute of which had to be flexibility. The accommodation changed from shared accommodation with communal washroom facilities to single accommodation with private washroom facilities. A recreational director was hired to help the workers make use of elaborate recreational facilities. A closed-circuit TV and radio system was installed to operate as a private broadcasting system using taped programs originally broadcast on European TV networks or developed by the mine personnel themselves. The liquor rules were changed and the mine manager became a licensed innkeeper responsible for the orderly operation of the Black Angel Bar in accordance with the Danish laws governing the services of a public bar.
Keywords: Black Angel mine, Townsites, North, Greenland, Environmental control, Transportation, Accomodation.