The Rio Tinto West Angelas mine site tour was a fantastic experience for all 10 Broome Clontarf Year 12 students and two staff, who relished the opportunity to fly direct from Broome last Wednesday.
Mine boss Mark Townson hosted the tour, which included each of the students enjoying a ride in the gigantic mine trucks that cart 220 + tonnes of ore back and forth. Whilst there were many highlights, hearing personal accounts from current Rio Tinto staff over dinner provided us all with an insight into the realities of the FIFO lifestyle. Methods to balance the demands of working life away from family and friends are crucial, with many of our Year 12’s already discussing their own plans to deal with hardships encountered in the future.
A hotly contested basketball match between students and Rio Tinto staff provided plenty of laughs, a great example of entertainment post work. Being able to stay overnight onsite amongst the FIFO staff was another key learning experience. Whilst the initial joy of personal TVs with Foxtel was almost too much to handle, the notion of ‘one family’ that was highlighted throughout the trip engulfed the group. Despite our glimpse into life on site being quite brief, we couldn’t help but feel included in the dynamic; an army of soldier ants that move mountains.
The journey back to Broome via Perth allowed us to experience life in the future as we entered ‘the Rock’, Rio Tinto’s operating centre and home to the controllers of autonomous trucks, trains, plant equipment, fuel, etc. Jaw dropping is an understatement. For the majority of us, this epicentre of autonomy was out of our depth, but it was amazing to see.
A massive thank you must go to Mark Townson for orchestrating and hosting the experience, Amanda Nelson who could not have been more helpful in planning and preparing all of the details, and Jo-Anne Shiosaki who was incredibly supportive of us all from Broome to the Pilbara mine site, on to Perth and home again.
This has been the start of a very positive direct relationship between Clontarf in the Kimberley and the West Angelas site. We expect a number of those who attended the tour to apply for positions with Rio Tinto in the near future, and we look forward to planning next year’s visit. The Year 12’s were on such a high when they returned that they addressed the Year 10 and 11 students the following morning about their experience.
Our next task will be to select the 2020 attendees from the huge number of eager Year 11 students already lining up to get involved.