What is it I do?

18 Apr

Since the start of the year I have been working as an Exploration Field Assistant (Fieldy) in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.  I describe being a Filedy as a cross between an outback council worker and a boy scout.  When I first started I couldn’t believe I was being paid to 4WD and hike around the outback. This is one of my most enjoyable jobs from my 5 years of working the world. 

But like any job you have your days. You know the days, the ones when you have had a bad nights sleep, and all the little things that don’t usually annoy you, start to really annoy you, like the office chap whose too happy. Well out here, theres plenty of things that annoy yousomedays the flies and heat get to you, sometimes you wish you worked a 40 hour week instead of 84 hours, but on the whole I love being a Fieldy and would be one of my favourite jobs out of my 5 years of working the world. And if you ever ask me if I like my job, I will reply “I love it, I get paid to be a boy scout”!.

I get flown up to Woodie Woodie, a Manganese mine which is 3 1/2 hours flying from Perth.  My 2 weeks up in camp (there is no town here, it is just a mining camp) consists of working 12 hours (starting at 5am) and then having 12 hours off, then working 12 hours etc, until my 2 weeks is up.

The goal of the Exploration Department, is to find Manganese, which is used in the production of steel. This process involves drilling the extensive area surrounding the current mines, sometimes 1 hour of off-roading from site. 

  

Being a Field Assistant (Fieldy) my 12 hours of work is quite varied, which is lucky for me, as many jobs in the mines are monotonous (but paid better). For example the dump truck drivers that drive the same short route for 12hours a day (The dump trucks are surprisinly easy to operate considering they look so menacing, they are automatic,  an up down lever operates the tray and theres a rear view camera to help reverse).

As a Fieldy my tasks involve:

  • Laying out gridlines– This involves using DGPS and walking kilometre upon kilometre in a straight line, marking every 100 metres with ribbon (we have 320km of grids to walk in the coming months – I’m going to be a walking skeleton). We do this so some fellas (Geophysics) can come along and send messages into the ground and then the Manganese sends little messages up to the surface saying “I’m in here, come and get me”. 

 

 
  • Pegging– Using GPS and pegging out drill sites where the rigs will drill (hopefully where there is “Mango”)

 

 

  • Sampling – After the holes have been drilled, I come along and sample them (basically I put dirt in a bag – it all looks like dirt to me)

 

 

  • Rehabilitate the drill site – When they have finished drilling I then come back and cut the collar (plastic piping in the ground where the drill hole is), plug it (so Kangaroos don’t fall down) and try and make it look like no one has been there (try but its pretty bloody hard when a bulldozer has leveled the place – the cost of wanting steel I suppose)

 

 

  • Office work– Yep, I get on my little secretary skirt (Feminists, no sexiest conatations intended – men wear skirts, maybe I’m a Fijian Secretary) and input some data (and check my email and drink coffee).

 

Now that the cyclone season has finished we will be starting our regional work. This will see us setting up small camps with caravans and swags (Aussie invention involving a mattress and sleeping bag in one – The best thing to come out of Australia) further into the middle of nowhere. From these camps we will work as we look for the elusive manganese. So hopefully the future is dark! (get it  – Manganese is black)

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