An Irishman’s Diary: Life in the Australian Mines

Posted June 12, 2012 in Sonas News

Eoin Ryan tells it like it is as an Irishman working in the Australian mines and getting ‘the best of both worlds’…

Eoin Ryan is my name, and I am from Bishopstown in Cork. In 2010, I graduated from Cork Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Civil Engineering. At the time the construction industry was well in truly on a slippery slope, therefore I had to look abroad for opportunities.

I had various options such as England, Dubai and Australia. I had received some great feedback regarding Australia and had some friends there, so I decided to make the trip down under on the 22nd July 2010 and have been here since.

I am currently working on a coal mine North of Brisbane on a 10 day on and 4 day off roster. The mine that I am working on is carrying out extension works which will improve the production of the mine and extend its duration. Generally for people like me working in mines will not involve doing any work underground! I start work on a Tuesday  and work until the following Thursday. Therefore every second weekend I have four days off (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) The rosters depend on the company and the area that you work. In Queensland (Brisbane area) the roster is generally a two week on and one week off roster or else a ten day on and four day off roster. However, in Western Australia (Perth area) the rosters tend to be three weeks on and one week off or even a four week on and one week off roster.

Eoin in Action

In my opinion mining work is fantastic. The days are long and intense but the rewards outweigh the difficulties. On mines everything is looked after in terms of food, accommodation, flights, vehicles, gym etc. Essentially, when you’re on the mine it is very difficult to spend money. A kitchen with chefs ensures sufficient, adequate and healthy meals are readily available which also saves the time and hassle of cooking in the evenings and preparing lunch in the mornings. The accommodation areas are generally known as the ‘camp’ which essentially is fitted out with ‘Dongers,’ (Temporary accommodation, usually nine cubic metres, fitted with a bed, wardrobe, television, desk and ensuite. All camps will have what is known as the ‘wet mess’ and ‘dry mess.’ The wet mess is the pub and the dry mess is the kitchen. Usually the wet mess is closed by nine every night and the majority of mines complete a compulsory breath test every morning. Various mines differ but usually your breath alcohol level needs to be .000. In most camps a gym will be readily available and often classes are conducted in the evenings for all personnel.

The days on a mine site are usually between 10 and 12 hours. Safety is of paramount importance to a mine and there is absolutely zero tolerance for anyone who steps outside the regulations. Prior to working on a mine there will be various introductions that are compulsory which will be organised by the employer. What I find most appealing about working on mines is that having 4 days off every second weekend allows me to travel and do all the ‘touristy’ things. Essentially it is the best of both worlds as I get to work and save while travelling and seeing Australia at the same time.