Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jaxon Ball and I am a Rail Infrastructure Trainee for Aurizon.
When did you start in the mining industry and what was your first job?
I started my traineeship in March 2022 after I finished high school at Moranbah High.
How different is your job now to what you wanted to be when you were a kid?
My current job is quite different from what I had envisioned as a kid. I had always thought I would become a teacher until I completed Year 12. Growing up in Coppabella, a small railway town located around 40 km from Moranbah, I was constantly exposed to the industry. With the support and guidance of the Aurizon community, I pursued a trade instead with the option to consider teaching at a later stage, should I still choose to do so.
What does a typical workday involve?
Well, it starts with traveling to different job sites from our home base in Moranbah to as far as Clermont, Oakey Creek, South Walker Mine, and North Goonyella which are spread across over 700km of railway track. Once at the job site, the primary tasks are cutting rails using a rail saw, removing and replacing rails with an excavator, and welding the new rail together. The work also includes ongoing maintenance depending on the condition of the track and fixing any geometry issues that may arise. Essentially, the goal is to replace faulty tracks and ensure that the railway system is functioning efficiently.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is getting to swing hammers and operate machinery.
What’s the worst thing?
It’s hot! When I’m out there welding away between the tracks, the temperature can reach up to 70 degrees. It’s like working in a sauna, except there’s no time to relax and have a refreshing beverage. I guess you could say I’m the human equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich, but without the cheese (or the bread, for that matter). So yeah, I guess you could say the worst thing about my job is that I’m constantly melting away.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
What has been your proudest achievement?
That’s an easy one! I got to hold and run with the baton for the Queen’s Baton Relay during its final leg in the Isaac Region. It was such an honour to be part of the baton’s global journey to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. And if that wasn’t enough, I also became a big brother again when I was 17.
What’s something about your job that would surprise people to know?
You know, people often underestimate the crucial role that the railway play in the mining industry. It’s not just about laying down some tracks and calling it a day. Those rails are what allow massive amounts of coal and other minerals to be transported from the mines to the ports and beyond. And that’s where my team comes in – it’s our responsibility to make sure those tracks are in top condition at all times. It’s no easy feat, but with a small crew, we manage to keep things running smoothly.
What’s a funny story about work that you can tell?
Here’s a funny story from work that I can share with you. So, when I was still new to the job, I was tasked with knocking on a pan drol clip. I thought I had it all figured out and took a swing at the clip. However, my aim was off, and I ended up hitting my own shin instead! It was a bit of an embarrassing moment, and my coworkers couldn’t help but laugh at my blunder. It definitely taught me to pay closer attention to what I was doing!
What do you do in your downtime?
In my downtime, I like to stay active by hitting the gym and playing rugby league. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends and playing video games on my PlayStation.
The mining industry gets more than its fair share of criticism. What is your view of our industry and the impact it has?
As a railway worker, I have seen firsthand the important role that the mining industry plays in our society. It provides employment opportunities, drives economic growth, and is a key supplier of resources for countless industries. While there are certainly challenges and criticisms, I believe that the mining industry is essential to our economy and way of life. As a part of this industry, I take pride in my work and am committed to upholding the highest standards of safety, efficiency, and responsibility. Without the mining industry, many of the goods and resources that we rely on daily would not be possible.