A day in the life of…

Graduate Mining Engineer at South32

Mirabelle Molukun studied ​a Bachelor of Mining Engineering at University of Western Australia in 2015, and is now a Graduate Mining Engineer at South32.

4.00 AM

First alarm rings.

4.30 AM

4 alarms later, I’m out of bed and making my way to the dry mess to pack brekky and crib.

4.40 AM

I decide this morning to walk the relatively short 3.5km to work rather than take the bus. Besides the perk of getting some exercise before work, I love to use this time to relax and listen to music. The track is generally pretty quiet, and with the background of the sun rising as I get closer to work, it makes for a pretty calming and special scene.

5.20 AM

I get to work and change into my PPE.

6.00 AM

As I come into the office, I say my good mornings and make my usual pot of morning tea. First things first, I check my emails quickly while having brekky at my desk. As a graduate, I am in the Operational Engineering team and rotate between drill & blast, paste and ventilation. Currently, I have been mostly designing miscellaneous drillholes (probe holes, drainholes, pasteline holes, etc). I check the weekly schedule to ensure that we are on track with the miscellaneous designs, and talk to Survey to ensure that any upcoming drillholes are marked up for the drillers.

8.00 AM

To kick off the day, we have an Operational Engineering prestart meeting. In this meeting, we go through safety incidents, if any, that occurred recently, whether that be in Cannington or across the company. We also go through what work is to be done by the team that day, and if anyone requires assistance.

8.30 AM

I gear up to go underground for a quick trip to check my drillhole designs. It is always encouraged to validate your design underground, to ensure that the hole can actually be drilled. Going through my design checklist, I validate that the Simba drill will be able to fit in the drive, whether there is any existing infrastructure or drillholes that will impact the drilling, the condition and accessibility of the drive, amongst other things.

10.30 AM

I return to surface, make any adjustments to the drill designs if needed and give it to the Senior Ops Engineer for review and signoff. This week I am also helping the ventilation engineer, Jerry with the primary vent survey. The primary survey is completed every 6 months, and its purpose is to get a snapshot of airflows, wind speeds and pressures underground to validate the circuit and identify any issues with it.

Being a graduate, it is also a really effective way to learn about how the airflow in the mine works, how it is managed and how it is affected by firings and other mining activities. Once we have grabbed all the necessary equipment, we head underground.

Having to do airflow readings in various levels as well as on the main decline requires us to work in with the different crews underground and decline traffic. In order to do our job safely, we always make sure to inform any personnel in the vicinity what we are doing, as well as making the necessary callouts on the radio if needed.

The survey will take a good chunk of the day, with us taking a quick lunch break in the late afternoon.

Whilst we are underground, it is also a good opportunity to conduct critical control observations (CCOs) and damaging energy observations (DEOs). These observations not only form a part of my KPI, but it also encourages the team to go underground, observe work sites and talk to the operators about the existing hazards and how it is controlled.

In this occasion, we stopped by at a production drill site. Once we obtain permission from the operator to enter the drill site, we have a quick look around of the site. We discuss with the operator about the job he is currently working on, if there are any issues with the drilling, and go through his Take 5 with him to ensure all hazards has been identified and that there are controls in place to manage it. Some examples would be covering reamer holes with traffic cones or stemming bags to eliminate tripping and uneven ground hazards, barricading the working area with appropriate signage to control personnel entry.

5.15 PM

When I am back at my desk, I email Site Travel to ensure that the flights and accommodation for my upcoming trip to Perth is all organised. Jerry and I will be attending a ventilation seminar hosted by the MVSA (Mine Ventilation Society Australia) during our break. I am really looking forward to it as it will be good to build on my knowledge of vent from the primary vent survey, meet and talk to experienced people in ventilation and to learn the new and upcoming equipment, software and practices in the vent space.

I also take this time to either set up files for upcoming miscellaneous drill holes, read up on stope notes to gain context for the design or finish off any remaining designs. 

6.40 PM

I pack up my desk and head to the change house, before taking the bus back to camp. I head to the dry mess to pack my dinner and crib for the next day, making sure to avoid the dessert.

7.00 PM

There is a gym instructor onsite from Monday to Thursdays, he runs different classes catering to both day and night shift. It’s HIIT class today and after 30 minutes of doing several intense exercises, I head back to my room considerably more puffed and worn out.

7.30 PM

After a long day, I definitely look forward to unwinding and chilling out before bed. We’ve recently got a 4G upgrade to our network and it is definitely reflected in the speed of my Netflix downloads. After a couple hours of watching Netflix, I call it a night, ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

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