In our Coffee & Compliance conversation this week with Ashlyn Wenger, a Mining Engineer at Graniterock, we got a unique peek into the operations of the biggest aggregate open pit mine west of the Mississippi! Ashlyn spoke about all aspects of the environmental portion of her job, from analyzing Title V air permits to understanding in-depth stormwater plans. Currently, her passion lies in designing blasting plans, flying drones, and working closely with operations to ensure environmental compliance at the quarry.
Ashlyn began her career with a bachelors in Geological Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Her current work as a Mining Engineer began with environmental compliance exposure through an internship, which eventually progressed into her role. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to apply her knowledge and passion to the field of hydrology and groundwater research and drive success for Graniterock’s concrete, asphalt, and aggregate facilities.
What are the challenges?
For Ashlyn, time management is a daily challenge – and this is due to all of the tasks she has to juggle, including grade checks, drone flyovers, consolidating air emissions data, adding drill rig data to a compliance matrix, monthly inspections, designing blast pads, and more! Follow-up on all of these tasks is also a challenge and due to all of the externalities involved with her responsibilities, she is grateful to have access to organizational tools like Mapistry. When an inspector comes to a site – “…using a software like Mapistry is very helpful… ” – it is useful to leverage Mapistry as the location where everything is stored.
Ashlyn’s work requires her to be an effective speaker and listener, lead meetings and discussions, provide feedback, and gather ideas. There is also a heavy crossover with the environmental work on-site. Although her title is mining engineer, her work is all-encompassing. She mentions that “… all of our branch representatives act as environmental managers.” As a company, Graniterock wants to empower all of their people to be their own environmental manager. We heard her boss, Reed Carter, mention this same idea in the webinar on How EHS Technology is Fueling the Most Successful Companies. Graniterock representatives are specialists that need a birds-eye view of the environmental challenges, and Ashlyn is enthusiastic about this work.
A day in the life!
For Ashlyn and many others, including Mapistry’s Ryan Janoch, flying drones and blasting rocks as a mining engineer is truly a dream job. Her work is not only super cool and fun, but is integral for environmental compliance and a successful operation. Using drone imagery, her team pulls in 3D images and models of mining operations to look at inventory. This is crucial from a business standpoint of understanding the amount of material within the quarry, and is integral for operational planning.
Ashlyn’s words of wisdom regarding environmental management in the mining industry: express interest in environmental if it is something that excites you! Because the environmental side of the mining industry is so comprehensive and complex, the industry is always eager to support people who are enthusiastic about environmental management.