A peek behind the scenes at Discovery's "Hoffman Family Gold"
In their reality series "Hoffman Family Gold," Discovery is bringing the human experience of gold mining, with all its risks, rewards, and time pressures, into the living rooms of millions of viewers. Few people realize that Ron Fetzko, SMS Equipment's Technical Support Specialist for remote regions, works side-by-side with the cast and crew to support the production effort and ensure that the Komatsu equipment performs optimally. In this edition of Experts Corner, Ron tells what it's like to be in the spotlight when the cameras are rolling.
What's your typical day like?
During the morning meeting, I get a few minutes to brief people on equipment issues. Sometimes I make suggestions about things I'm seeing or how they could do things differently with the gear to get better results. I also take time to explain the Tier-4 emissions system because some of the mine staff do not have experience with these systems due to previously working with older fleets.
The rest of my time is spent helping the plant, keeping water pumps and generators running, and working on non-Komatsu gear like pickup trucks, quads, or whatever else needs attention. I chip in wherever I'm needed, and the others help me out as well. It's a team effort, including the crew and cast members.
The show makes a big deal about how tough the terrain is. What's that like?
Getting there is a big issue! We're about 85 miles northwest of Nome, Alaska, but the road is more like a trail – you have to travel through two mountain ranges to get to the site, which takes about three hours.
Of course, that makes it pretty difficult to get parts here, too, so we work really hard to stay on top of that.
What were some of the demands on the equipment?
As far as the equipment goes, traction is a big thing because we're on permafrost. Even if it's 20 degrees out and there's not a stitch of snow, they're still sliding around like they're on straight ice because they're on frozen ground.
It sounds like you've got a really interesting job.
The Bottom Line:
Ron Fetzko is part of the SMS Equipment's team of specialists that support equipment in Canadian and US mines in some of the toughest conditions on the planet. As Ron says, we do what it takes to keep equipment operating at its required level of production in any terrain.