Training To Mine Zinc

Training To Mine Zinc

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Some 2,500 feet below the earth's surface, a mine trainer is teaching two veterans and a local 19 year old how to scale, which is prying loose rock from the mine shaft.

“If they make it through the first week of scaling, then they are probably going to stay with us. It's hard, but I tell them it's the hardest job they will ever love,” said Darrel Johnson, mine trainer.

The Empire State Mine in Gouverneur's training program was funded by $330,000 from the New York Power Authority and an additional $50,000 from the Workforce Development Institute.

It exclusively trains locals and veterans, like Alex Arbogast, a 28 year old Fine resident who had trouble finding work after he left his job as a helicopter mechanic at Fort Drum in 2011.

“It was difficult finding work but you did what you could. I'm glad that they give people the chance. You know nothing and they are willing to teach you,” said Arbogast.

Seven trainees have no experience mining. But once they complete 13 weeks of training, they’re on the team. They’ll make $18 an hour plus bonuses. They’re mining zinc, which you can find in a lot of things, including your daily vitamin.

800 tons of zinc filled rock is removed from the mine every day, and by the end of the year, Empire State Mines hopes to have 60 new employees complete their training program.

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