What's your job about?
AngloGold Ashanti is a gold mining company. The site I am positioned at is Tropicana, situated in the Goldfields of Western Australia. My area of responsibility is in the Maintenance department as a Mechanical Engineer. Maintenance is responsible for ensuring that all equipment in the Processing Plant is operational and reliable in order to process gold. As a Mechanical Engineer, my role is to ensure equipment is working as well as identifying areas of improvement to increase the efficiency of equipment and safety of workers in the plant. Areas of improvement can become projects that are managed with engineering practices covering aspects from scoping, budgeting, design, procurement, execution and following the guidelines set by the Australian Standards. Projects that require implementation usually involve consultation with suppliers of equipment and contractors to execute work.
One project of mine was to replace a section of a steel pipeline with high-density polyethylene after corrosion on the steel line had caused leakage. As the equipment is a change of material, the job had to be scoped, consulted with a contractor and planned to be installed during a shutdown. Plant diagrams and drawings had to be revised to ensure consistency with plant equipment and all documentation. The result was a new line that was more resistant to corrosion, keeping the equipment operational for longer and thus increasing the efficiency of the plant.
What's your background?
I grew up in Perth and attended the University of Western Australia to study a Bachelor of Engineering and then a Master of Professional Engineering immediately after. I knew this was the pathway I wanted to go toward, as I had a fascination with physics and mathematics during High School. I made coffees as my part-time job during university to make up my leisure expenses.
During the summer break of 2017, I decided to volunteer at a bearings supply company for 3 months working alongside the Engineering Manager. He was the mutual friend of a regular customer whose coffee I had made every day at my part-time job. The bearings supply company was my first look into a professional workplace. My role was very basic, I would assist the Engineering Manager with populating spreadsheets and identifying manufacturer parts. I was very grateful for this experience. Despite it being unpaid work, it enabled me to progress my experience whilst I was still completing my degree. The following summer break I was able to land a role in a vacation programme with a gold mining company where I gained valuable experience in a maintenance engineering setting. This experience was ultimately what provided my pathway towards AngloGold Ashanti when the position was open for a Mechanical Engineer Graduate role. I landed this role in 2019 and have been a graduate with AngloGold Ashanti Australia for over a year now.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
In most aspects, I believe someone with a different background can do my role. The skills attained from the university will put graduates in a position to think strategically and logically. This is essential for project management and mechanical design. Someone with a different background could still perform this job if they possess the skill to think strategically and logically. Equipment knowledge and specifics, which are not learnt at university are learnt on the job. This develops expertise in the field.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The thing I love most about my job is that there is a sense of ownership from the implementations that are made to the processing plant as a result of my actions. I like when I walk past things that I have made a direct impact on, as if to say, “I did that” or “I put that there”. It gives me the sense that I am part of a team at AngloGold Ashanti Australia that is working towards achieving success for the company.
What are the limitations of your job?
The most obvious limitation is the fly-in fly-out lifestyle and the long days. It can be a challenge for some people who value being home and can be a mental test to get into gear at the beginning of the roster week. However, it can all be worth it when you finish the swing and have a good break coming up. I strongly value the idea of a work hard play hard lifestyle so the fly-in fly-out limitation works for me.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
The advice I would give myself when I was a student would be to: