What's your job about?
Newmont is a global mining company that has established itself as one of the largest gold producers in the world. In Australia alone, Newmont has 3 key operations; KCGM, Tanami and Boddington. I currently work as a graduate metallurgist at the Boddington operation which is located roughly 120 km south-east of Perth. My role offers a good balance between practical, hands-on work and office based data analysis type work. A typical week may involve; conducting lab test work, assisting with plant surveys/sampling, liaising with operators, analysing data, carrying out metallurgical accounting and monitoring/troubleshooting processes (such as milling, flotation, leaching/adsorption etc.) to ensure that the plant is operating optimally. Put simply, the metallurgist’s key aim is to ensure the successful extraction of the valuable commodity from the ore.
What's your background?
I was born in South Africa, but spent most of my childhood in NZ. I eventually moved to Australia to complete my year 11 and 12 education at Kent St SHS. I studied Chemical Engineering & Extractive Metallurgy at Curtin University and attended WASM for a year as part of my degree. While at university, I often juggled studies with casual/part time work. Although this was challenging, in the long run, it was beneficial as it allowed me to develop better time management skills and learn to prioritise my work load. During the latter part of my degree I obtained vacation work at Newmont’s Tanami operation. This was an extremely exciting period for me as it was my first time on a gold processing plant; I vividly remember being blown away by the size of unit operations/equipment. I enjoyed vacation work so much that I applied for Newmont’s 2 year graduate program. I was accepted into the graduate program in 2017 and moved to Kalgoorlie to commence my first year of the program at Newmont’s KCGM operation. Once again I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of this plant which was bigger and more complex than the Tanami operation. I was eager to learn, asked plenty of questions and tried to understand other areas of the business (not just the metallurgy department). Some of the highlights of my time at KCGM include; conducting plant surveys/project work, attending Emergency Response Training sessions, obtaining a tour of the underground and open pit mines and working with an amazing group of people who are like a second family to me. In 2018, I commenced work at Newmont’s Boddington operation.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes. I have met metallurgists with very diverse qualification backgrounds (such as chemical engineering, chemistry/geology etc.). If you are motivated and interested in mineral processing then it is definitely possible to pursue a career in metallurgy. Good skills to have for this job include communication skills, the ability to work both autonomously and in a team and being open to change.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I think the coolest thing about my job is being able to see and work amidst the machinery and unit operations (such as HPGR’s, crushers, spirals, flotation cells etc.) that make up the processing plant. I also enjoy the balance between the practical, hands on side of my job which involves taking samples in the field and processing them in the lab and office-based type work such as data analysis.
What are the limitations of your job?
I currently work 8 days on and 6 days off (10+ hour days). Some may view the early start of 5.30 am on weekdays (and 5 am on weekends only) as a limitation of the job (it’s lucky I’m a morning person).
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