9 March 2022

As a teenager deciding on a future career, I briefly (very) considered becoming a Geologist. However, the thought of a) working on a mine site, and b) living in a mining town quickly dissuaded me of that idea.

The irony of this life decision is not lost a me. After almost two decades of working in the Mining and Steel industry, while living in a Mining and Steel town, and loving it, I’m very glad that not all the plans and choices of our younger selves come to fruition.

So what is it about this industry that made a born and bred city girl turn in her high heels for safety boots (apart from the fact that they are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned).

Being regionally based means that there is not always an expert or specialist available around the corner. The work still needs to get done, which translates into a wide, sometimes unique, but always diverse range of opportunities and experiences. Working outside your “normal” skillset, not only stretches your abilities, but teaches you think creatively and outside of the box.

From engineers, mechanics and radio specialists, to nurses, labourers and bean counters, the range of people you’ll encounter is endless. Different careers attract different types of people. Mining and Manufacturing brings them all together. This makes for very interesting (and challenging at times) stakeholder engagement experiences. Trust me when I say, you’ll never be bored.

In IT your job often revolves around the rectangle(s) at the other end of your keyboard. In Mining, whether I’m designing a new system, debugging a report or putting together a project plan, I know, there is a real life “something” out there working better or faster because of work I did. I can see the labels I designed on the sample buckets in the lab, I can see the plant being controlled by the servers I helped to upgrade. It is great to walk into a control room and see the system I designed being used, or the CCTV cameras from the project I managed up on the wall.

Last, but not least, the ubiquitous orange shirt is the great equaliser. Whether you are the cleaner, the shift supervisor or the CEO, there is something special about putting on your PPE. It shows no rank or status, no personal affiliations or educational status. Instead it shows that you are not afraid of hard work, sometimes dirty work, that you are tough and willing to go the extra mile to get the job done (safely of course), and above all that you are proud to be called a Miner or a Steel worker.