Serena Sturton (Natural Resources Conservation)

Environmental Co-op with Teck Resources Limited in Hinton, AB

Serena wearing a helmet and smiling.

I spent the last 8-months working for Teck Resources Limited as an Environmental Co-op Student at their Cardinal River mine near Hinton, Alberta. The mine operated for 51 years as an open-pit metallurgical coal mine, which is high quality coal used for steel-making, before it halted operations and transitioned into closure in June of 2020. My role here was mainly split between the Environment and Reclamation teams taking on water management programs, and being the lead environmental monitor for the Harris Reclamation Project. I was responsible for water sampling and monitoring in accordance with regulatory approvals and compliance parameters. I reviewed lab results and input data for regulatory reporting to the Government of Alberta. As environmental monitor for the 7-month reclamation project, I developed the water monitoring and step-by-step replicable overburden soil sampling procedures for the project. I completed all pre- and post-contouring overburden sampling across the reclamation site and reported upon results from the lab to determine the soil suitability for cover soil spreading. I also dug over 90 soil pits to verify the depth of cover soil spread was compliant. I was responsible for granting approval for reclamation crews to rough mound verified areas. I took on smaller projects, in addition to my daily tasks, working on natural forest regeneration assessments and weed regrowth surveys on herbicide-applied areas. I was fortunate to have numerous opportunities to collaborate with consultants and third-party contractors on specialized projects and programs. A few of my favourites include, bathymetry surveys of settling ponds and end pit lakes, benthic invertebrate surveys, a Harlequin duck banding survey, and acute lethality test sampling. This work experience opened my mind to career opportunities I never thought were possible. I feel well-equipped with the industry experience I gained in this position to take on new, interesting and challenging positions post-graduation. Working at a previously operational coal mine on conservation-, environmental-, and reclamation-focused projects has changed my perspective and given me a better understanding about the role conservation plays in the natural resources sector. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working for Teck and am grateful for all the experiences I had while working and living in the Canadian Rockies.   

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