March 11, 2021
In November of last year, our colleague Janita Kylmäluoma, an autoclave operator at the Kittilä mine, undertook and succeeded at one of the most physically intense challenges a mine rescuer can face: passing the smoke diver test. In fact, she became the first woman in Kittilä to do so.
The smoke diver test is an advanced, physically demanding fire-fighting test designed to teach firefighters how to navigate a rescue while wearing a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), a compressed air cylinder worn on the back that provides breathable air in dangerous conditions. In Kittilä, where Janita completed her testing, the circuit included obstacles such as carrying two hose coils, each weighing nearly 17 kilograms, while walking up and down stairs, and using a hammer to move a 47-kilogram truck tire around the track.
Having the smoke diver qualification further strengthens her role in emergency care where Janita thrives as a volunteer and is one of two women on the Kittilä mine rescue team of 80. Janita explains that “work on the rescue team is perfect for me, as I want to help others.”
For Janita, taking on big challenges and breaking down barriers is not something new. She joined the Agnico Eagle Finland team after completing her training in mining at the Lapland Education Centre REDU in Sodankylä. In her current position, Janita oversees the operation of Kittilä’s autoclave. The only one of its kind at Agnico Eagle, the autoclave is a large pressure oxidation device that combines high heat and pressure to extract gold from ore.
Agnico Eagle works hard to employ some of the most qualified and dedicated professionals in the industry, and recognizes that an inclusive work environment, coupled with the diverse talents of our people, are the key to our success. In Janita’s case, not only does she bring immense talent and dedication to her role, she also knows how important her early successes in becoming an autoclave operator and a mine rescue volunteer can be in providing a positive example and encouraging other women who aspire to pursue careers in the mining industry or as first responders.
“In my opinion, the workplace atmosphere is better when the work community consists of different kinds of people – men and women alike. Gender or age does not define you; we are all individuals,” Janita says. “I feel that I’m one of the team just like anyone else. I encourage all women to pursue a career of their liking, whatever it may be.”