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Hello my name is… Coralee Heske

July 14, 2021

Mine engineer-in-training Coralee Heske enjoys painting, drawing and woodworking when she has some “me-time.” Photo: Coralee Heske

Welcome to an occasional series in Vale News called Hello My Name Is… where employees and leaders from Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. share personal experiences, tips and insights on a variety of topics. This week we meet Coralee Heske, short range stope planner at our operations in Thompson, Manitoba. 


I grew up in the foster care system and I didn’t have a lot of examples of potential careers. When you’re in the foster care system not only do you struggle with belonging, but there is this urgency to get you out of the system. It makes you feel like you are a number and not important. When I was 35, after a series of minimum-wage jobs, I went back to school to get my bachelor of science, in mining engineering from the University of Alberta. It was the fulfillment of a promise I made years earlier to my stepfather just before his death. 

I went into engineering partly because of my passion for the environment. I was originally considering environmental engineering, but when I discussed my plans with a professor, he told me about the opportunities to have a positive environmental impact with a mining engineering degree.

I joined Vale as a mine engineer-in-training and moved to Thompson from Spruce Grove (about 10 minutes outside of Edmonton) in 2018, and the same year I remarried. My spouse and I have seven kids between us with one still at home.

Why I love my job:

I like being challenged. I love that I feel valued. And I like to blow things up!

I have attended several student career fairs in which Vale has participated. I really enjoy speaking to elementary and high school students about the opportunities in skilled trades, and I hope that through my presentations, I am connecting with kids, specifically kids who may be dealing with some of the same things I did when growing up. I hope that these kids will see by example how my life has changed and theirs can too. 

These events mean a lot to me, and I am so thankful that Vale has never declined my request to participate in them. 

My hobbies: 

I am a true introvert. My husband loves fishing and the outdoor lifestyle in Thompson, but I’m more of a homebody. I like my ‘me-time’: reading, putting my feet up, and I enjoy small woodworking projects, painting and drawing. My Christian faith is very important to me, too; it recharges me and gives me focus.

What I hope to be doing in five or 10 years from now:

I really enjoy what I am doing right now. I hope to get more into leadership, especially working with operations.

I will also continue to participate in Vale’s student outreach efforts and develop ways to engage students. When I went back to school, my son was eight years old, and I needed to find a way to explain what I was doing. I came up with the idea of “cookie mining,” where we explored a cookie for “minerals” and talked about different ways of extracting them. I now do the same activity with the students I speak to. It’s been a big hit.

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