I wake up and get ready for work. One of the perks of working in the mines is that I do not have to think about what I am going to wear to work so I can get ready in less than 15 minutes.
I start heading my way down to the dry mess for breakfast. I also pack my lunch, fruits and snacks that I will bring to work that day.
I am out at the bus stop waiting for the 6:30 am bus to arrive. The bus ride takes about 15 to 20 minutes from the camp to the office.
I arrive at the office and I have 10 minutes to quickly check my emails before we do our daily pre-start meetings.
We begin our pre-start meeting with a 5-minute stretch and then reflect on the previous day’s performance. This is the time where we bring up any site-safety issues, serious industry safety incidents, training notices and operational and progress information in the past 24 hours.
After the pre-start meeting, I head back to my desk to check the pit cameras and prioritise the areas of the pit that I will inspect. Usually, it is the areas where there are remediation works on going or have been done during night shift which requires final assessments by a Geotechnical Engineer the following day.
I do a pre-start check on our ute before driving out to the pit with our Geotechnical Technician or Structural Geologist. Our pit inspections include inspecting the status of the pit walls and the environment in which our pit operators are working on as well as to assess any open hazards which could impact the safety of mine personnel working on foot. I use this time to speak to our mine operators to follow up and check their work progress in rock breaking, scaling or chaining, if there is one present, and to see if it is up to the Geotechnical safety standards. I also use this time to raise any safety concerns that I may have, or the pit operators may have with regards to their work.
One of the primary things I look for during the inspection is the status of the current ground support being installed or have been recently installed such as bolting or meshing and assess their effectiveness in terms of capturing or preventing rockfalls from occurring. A generous amount of photos of the pit walls, current remediation work areas and geotechnical hazard identified areas are also taken during the pit inspection which will be kept for our own record as well as to create new field works for our rope access technicians for their manual scaling remediation works if needed.
Back to the office after a couple of hours driving around the pit and inspecting everything that needs to be inspected. I take my morning tea and reply to any emails that may require actions from me. Currently, I am working on our quarterly geotechnical report, so I am trying to collect data from our prisms, vibrating wire piezometers, and radar in the past three months to check for any anomaly which may suggest instability from our pit walls. While working on that, I am also looking at different rockfall simulations for our future pit expansion project. I have to assess the safety of the new pit shell design and make recommendations when necessary.
If a geotechnical hazard has been identified during the pit inspection and requires immediate remediation, I will usually do up a manual scaling, bolting, or meshing fieldwork, depending on the type of hazard identified, and communicate it to the mining engineers to assess any potential delays in the production.
I usually attend the reconciliation meeting where everyone involved in operations gives an update on what has been done on their part. We also get notified here about any upcoming blasts. We then identify priorities, schedule and plan for the next day ahead. For my role, I give an update about specific areas of the pit which have remediation works in progress and identify walls that have been cleared or is expected to be cleared and ready to be handed over to the drill and blast crew in preparation for drilling blast patterns. I also raise up any geotechnical hazards which may have come up during the pit inspection conducted earlier that morning.
Depending on the day, before the handover day on Tuesday, I will drive over to the waste dumps straight after the 1 pm meeting to conduct our weekly waste dump inspections. We have four different waste dumps to inspect wherein we check for any signs of instability on the tip head, tip face and tip base of the dump.
Back to the office, I take my afternoon snack and continue working on my reports and assessments. I’d usually get calls around this time from pit operators requesting for wall assessments of their work area or requesting guidance on where to continue with the wall remediation. As part of my job as the geotechnical engineer, it is my duty to conduct an afternoon pit inspection and check how our pit operators are going with their work. We do not want to delay the production therefore it is important to keep track of the progress of the remediation work and notify any changes to the Production Engineer.
Time to wrap up my day in the office. I would usually provide a short summary via email of the main areas of concern within the pit and send it to the night shift supervisors advising them to communicate this to the incoming night shift crew.
I wait at the bus stand for the 5:00 pm bus heading back to the camp.
Gym time/social sports.
Take a rest, shower, prepare everything I need for the next morning to work.