Ben Niznik reckons he works at a dream pit and wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Ben Niznik and I am a Plant Operator at Rix’s Creek and I’ve been there close on 10 years now since I started a traineeship in 2008. My dad has been a shotfirer at Rix’s Creek since 1993 and he was the one that encouraged me to get into the industry. At the time when the traineeship came up I was 6 months into a carpentry apprenticeship, so I had to make a big call on that one and here I am today.
Any nicknames good or bad?
Yeah in my traineeship I picked up the nickname ‘Mags’ because of the big earrings I wear in my ears, and when I was in my 20’s and had a lot of face piercings they called me ‘Tackle box’, because it looked like I was chucked into a tackle box. Now since I have grown my beard I get called Ben-Laden for obvious reasons, so yeah, I have a few nicknames.
Where do you live and how long have you been in the Valley?
I am currently living in Stockton. I have been there about six months and it’s beautiful. Before that I have always lived in Raymond Terrace. I usually travel with mates from work and only live 500m from the beach. It’s unreal to have that good life work balance.
When did you start and what’s the ride been like?
2008 with the traineeship. There’s been a lot of changes in the industry, but for me personally I have really enjoyed it. I was lucky enough to start off at a great pit. I learnt a lot from a lot of good operators and its put me in good stead. The morale is good, everyone has each other’s back and looks out for one another. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone is very approachable from the mine manager right through the workforce. It’s a great place to work.
What’s a usual day at work entail?
I get to work and catch up with everyone and have a laugh with the guys. Get in there and have a look what machine you’re on and where you’re working, then we have the prestart and then go out and get into it. Personally, I love working on the grader. It’s 5x8hr shifts with the option of 12hr. I can’t complain about the roster there, it’s fantastic and it reflects through in the positivity in the workforce.
How big is the crew?
It’d have to be between 30 and 50 blokes, they aren’t big crews in comparison to other mines.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I’m just happy. A lot of people go to work on a Monday to Friday and they aren’t happy. When I go to work, I like the people I work with. I like the culture there. I like that it’s safe. I always drive away wanting to go back the next day.
The worst thing?
I can’t complain, I’m very lucky.
What’s a funny story about work that you can tell?
I used to travel with an electrician and one night I got home and I couldn’t find my phone. I had left it in his car and he ended up sending a message out to everyone in my phone saying my sexual preferences have changed. So yeah, for months and months after that I had to justify myself to everyone and respond to messages. Even my father rang me. I still cop it on occasions, ‘Have you been texting anyone lately.’
How different is your job to what you wanted to be when you were a kid?
I always wanted to do anything with my hands. I liked playing in the sand pits as a kid with the dump trucks and stuff, so yeah, I have always had that connection to wanting to do mining.
What would your mum say about you when you were a kid?
To you she would say I was a nice young man, but it probably would’ve been a different story, I was always cheeky and always running around mucking up.
I currently have a girlfriend and looking to next year hopefully purchasing my own home.
What do you do in your downtime?
I do a lot of surfing, I play soccer as well. I spend time obviously with the girlfriend. Catch up with mates and go for a schnitzel and beer with the boys. I am launching a hybrid clothing and apparel company called Hops & Iron. I have always liked sports and exercising and having a beer with the boys. So, I thought why not combine the two for people that have similar interests, into a brand that appeals to people. That they can wear to exercise or out socially. Check it out at on Instagram – Hops & Iron Apparel.