Trades Assistant in a Coal Mine
Over the 2011/2012 summer holidays, I gained work
in the coal mining industry working as a trades assistant (T.A) for Team
Engineering Services at the Rio Tinto Blair Athol Coal Mine (BAC), located near
Clermont, QLD. In this position, I developed a multitude of skills which I
otherwise would not have gained by studying and even working as a mechanical engineering.
My days started with a keen buzz from the alarm clock at 4am and by 4:45am, I'd
be at the company workshop in Emerald (my home town). From there, two dual cab Utes would begin the 1.5 hours journey to the mine site.
An ordinary day as a T.A at a coal mine consists mainly of helping out
tradesmen, such as boilermakers and fitter and turners. I would be handing out
tools, applying anti-seize paste to bolts, keeping the work area tidy,
communicating with my supervisor and Rio Tinto's supervisor, hosing down
equipment, directing traffic around a work area, cleaning up welds with the
grinder and spotting for fires during a hot works job...oh, and getting ABSOLUTELY
Although I may not utilise all the skills which I learnt by working as a T.A
when I am an engineer, the entire experience has allowed me to see how the coal
mine operates and in particular, the continual maintenance of the plant from
the perspective of the bottom rung of the authority ladder, something which an
engineering degree won't teach.
Some of the more memorable parts of my T.A experience include participating in
the installation of the new train load out knife gate and then seeing it in
action, getting to scope and sketch drawings for a major beam replacement in
the plant with the assistance of my supervisor, often being the only female on
site and sending my workmates crazy on the trip to and from work if I was
driving, because it seems not everyone loves country music!
All up, my experience was fantastic. I met some wonderful people and worked
with a terrific bunch of work colleagues. I am really looking forward to getting
back out into the resources industry for my co-op placement with CQU at the end
of this year, but this time around, I might not get so dirty!