Helen Davey - Underground Mine Geologist

BSc (Hons) Geology graduate

After working in an admin role for six years I decided that I wanted to be doing a job that involved getting outdoors and learning. I always had an interest in geosciences, and after researching the kinds of degrees on offer, I decided to go study geology at Plymouth. 

The course gave me a good understanding of geology and the different vocations I could pursue after graduating. The career planning module which ran alongside the dissertation in my final year, really helped me to think about what job I wanted to do and where I wanted to do it. I realised that I didn’t have to be based in the UK, and that there was a huge market for geologists in Australia.
During one of the career talks, a past student from Plymouth spoke to us. He was working in the exploration field in Australia. After talking to him I decided that I should give Australia a go and applied for my working holiday visa. 

Once I arrived in Perth I contacted many recruitment agencies, who then started to send my CV around to various companies and arrange interviews for me. I ended up having a telephone interview and a site visit to Alacer Gold where I was offered the job of Underground Mine Geologist at their goldmine in Higginsville, Western Australia. 

As Underground Mine Geologist, I am responsible for all the development drives underground that contain ore. This includes grading the rocks into low or high-grade ore, mapping and sampling. I also need to look at the bigger picture of the mine to try and determine where the ore is and what direction the ore is going, so I can determine where to mine. This involves looking at software programmes and drill hole data. The geology here is very structural based and I am mainly looking at quartz vein intrusions and shear zones which host gold. 

My day starts at 5.30am when I attend the pre-shift underground meeting with all the mine workers. I then plan my day, attending a couple more meetings during which we discuss the previous day's mine production and plans for that day. I then drive underground and get to work, with the day ending at 6pm - slightly different to university life.

I work an 8:6 roster, living on camp for 8 days and then returning home for my 6 days off. This is called a fly-in fly-out job where you fly to camp every week for work. The campsite has all the necessary facilities, including a room with en suite bathroom and TV/internet access, gym facilities, tennis and basketball courts, a general store and even a pub. All food is supplied from the dry mess and the choice is excellent. Being on site is like a home away from home as you have everything you require.

Coming to Australia was the best decision I could have made and I enjoy coming to work each week. The work is physically hard and mentally challenging but that keeps it interesting. I have worked here for four months now and the company is sponsoring me on a 457 visa, which is valid for four years.