Over the last few months I have been working as an undergraduate process engineer on the remote Burton Coal Project in Queensland, Australia. When I applied for the position my understanding of the mining lifestyle was basic at best, I knew that the hours and location would be a big change to the relatively peaceful life of a student, but not much more. One thing I wasn’t sure about was what to take to site. Factoring in that it would take 8 hours by air to get home and 2 hours by car to the closest town, I tried to cover all bases. As expected there were things I forgot.
Depending on the location, project and type of position the following should be considered:
Socks! – The last thing you want to be doing is walking around for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week with poor socks. Spend the extra money and get some good thick pairs that breathe, you will not regret it. (Optional – It may also be worth looking into foot deodorant, you may have to take your boots off to enter certain areas)
Boots – It seems logical, but the amount of people that get this wrong warrants its mention. I was lucky that my employer paid for my PPE, but this does not mean yours will. If you are given a choice or have to choose your footwear, make sure it is the correct type and size (most local workwear shops will be happy to let you try them on). It also pays to look up reviews, it only takes 5 minutes and can save you a lot of pain. Pay the extra money on a good pair of boots, its a small sacrifice for a big gain. Bringing a pair of thongs will cover the short trips around camp.
Toiletries – take into consideration the location, type of work, and availability of shops. Deodorant deserves a mention. If you’re working in the tropics or anywhere hot for that matter, it might be worth looking into a clinical strength deodorant. (Rexona: Clinical Protection Active Fresh)
Entertainment – Stock up on movies, games and books. If you get stuck on site you will be patting yourself on the back for some awesome planning. At the least take a decent sized portable hard-drive, most miners are happy to share around their collections.
Internet/phone – Check beforehand if the camp provides internet and also if your provider has reception in the area. At Burton (current camp) internet is not provided, so the only option for internet access is Telstra’s NextG Network. Plan ahead, most of the time in regional Australia Telstra is the only carrier with reception, so don’t take out a plan with another carrier if you’re expecting to start a regional placement. I’m currently paying $80 for 4gb of data (01/2013) every three weeks on average.
(Telstra: Mobile Broadband)
Cleaning products – There is nothing worse than being an OCD cleaning machine when you come home black every day. It pays to consider either a surface spray or basic cleaning product for your room. Also, remember to pack sufficient washing machine liquid. I say liquid because it is easier to carry and seems to do a better job on grease.
Clothing – Don’t bring lights! The camps facilities are shared, so don’t expect a white shirt to come out gleaming when a fitter is using the same machine. Stick with darker colored clothing.
Cooler – Take a good water cooler and lunchbox. Some companies will provide these but its good security to take your own, they don’t cost much.
If you’re lucky you will hopefully not forget anything, but chances are you will. Plan well ahead and enjoy the journey.
So what do you take to site? What other things should a first time miner be considering?