What's your job about?
I work at Dendrobium Underground Coal Mine – one of the two mines of Illawarra Metallurgical Coal. The mine primarily produces metallurgical coal for steelmaking. Dendrobium mine itself is only a 15 minutes drive from Wollongong, one of the best locations for a mine.
I am now in my third and final year of South32’s Graduate Mining Engineering program. The program is three years to allow for ample time underground working with the crews so I am able to qualify for a Mining Supervisor’s qualification. As an operator I was underground everyday as part of the coal production teams – on the miner, longwall face and operating heavy machinery. Currently I am sitting in a co-ordinator role so I now spend most of my time in the planning, scheduling and supervising the execution phase.
What's your background?
I was born and raised in Thailand to a Thai mum and Dutch dad (hence the Thai first name and Dutch last name!). The family moved to Wollongong just over ten years ago, but they all have now moved back to Thailand. I was lucky enough with dad’s contacts in the construction industry to have undertaken vacation work in both Thailand and The Netherlands.
When I was finishing up my degree there were very minimal graduate programs for Mining Engineers because the mining market was down so I ended up taking a job as an operator at a different underground coal mine – I was there for over a year when one of my professors from university reached out and put me into contact with South32.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
To be accepted for any of the graduate jobs you have to have the required Bachelor’s degree however some of the roles I was in as a graduate are on-the-job style learning and required different associated non-technical skills to succeed. Some of these include things like confidence to make tough decisions and leadership skills to supervise and lead different personnel. A lot of these soft skills I didn’t have when starting the role but they developed as time went on so to summarise it is a ‘yes!’, as long as you are willing to learn.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The company is super supportive in diversifying my skills. I get to rotate through different department and roles multiple times through the program and if there is something I like they are also happy for me to focus on that area as well.
I have also been able to become a Mines Rescue Brigade, attend conferences and a multitude of other training for my development.
What are the limitations of your job?
I had huge responsibility in one of my roles, there was a lot of pressure and demanding hours however I came out very successful with lots of positive feedback.
There can also be some shift work involved especially when gaining face operator experience with the crews underground but the site is usually flexible with this to ensure it suits your life as well.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...