Mobile Miners: Work, Home, and Hazards in the Yukon’s Mining Industry
The Northern Review 41 (2015): 111–137
The Yukon is on the verge of a resource boom. A major change since the early 1980s has been mining companies’ increasing reliance on long-distance commuting to move their workers to mine sites. While long-distance commuting can be seen as reducing the benefits the Yukon receives from mining, it can also be seen as an effective way of reducing the negative impacts that arise from the boom and bust nature of the industry. Long-distance commuting also represents new opportunities for workers currently living in the Yukon. It represents the potential for longer-term employment without the need to continually move to different communities. Yet little has been written about the attitudes of these workers towards their employment situation. What are their major concerns? Are there specific concerns relating to their mobile lifestyle? As an exploratory attempt to answer these questions, this paper examines twelve in-depth interviews with respondents from diverse backgrounds who worked in the Yukon’s mining industry. The findings indicate that workers in long-distance commuting mining firms had a range of perspectives regarding their workplaces. Some are general concerns that are not unique to their mobile lifestyle, while others relate directly to this. In terms of long-distance commuting, it appears most workers responded positively and were content to travel. While the sample size was small, the research suggests several avenues for further research such as the situation of women in new mining operations, Aboriginal employment experiences, perceptions of safety, and the separation of home and work.
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