My Mining Life – Chelsie Morrow

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Who are you and what do you do?

Chelsie Morrow, Electrical Apprentice, Hunter Valley Operations (HVO).

When did you start in the mining industry and what was your first job?

I started my apprenticeship at HVO in 2022, so I’m in my second year.

How different is your job now to what you wanted to be when you were a kid?

After finishing high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I continued working a part time and casual job. After some reflection I knew I wanted to be an electrician.

My dad is a plant mechanic and worked as a contractor in the mining sector. Hearing his stories about the scale and size of the equipment sparked my interest in gaining my trade in mining.  

What’s a usual day at work entail?

The great thing about the apprenticeship and working for a large mine is that I get to work in different areas. I have worked in heavy vehicle maintenance and am now working in the Coal Handling Preparation Plant washery. Every day is different. There is never a dull moment. 

What’s the best thing about your job?

The variety of equipment I work on. I’ve worked on mobile equipment – trucks, shovels, diggers. Now, it is washery plant equipment.

It is also the people I get to work with. At times, the equipment is daunting. My colleagues are amazingly supportive and there to help.

The worst thing?

The 4am wake ups although to see the sun rising over the site is the best feeling.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

There are challenges for women working in trades in mining. I am currently the only female apprentice at HVO. Hopefully I am changing attitudes and making it easier for other women and girls coming into the sector.

There are a couple of female apprentices that have gone on to full time roles at the mine. I’m working with one of them. Lauren is the best support. She’s passing on her skills and knowledge and she can directly relate to my experience.

What has been your proudest achievement?

I am realising my dream of becoming an electrician and am loving doing what I want to do. I’ve learned skills that I didn’t think I’d be able to learn.

I enjoy the HVO apprentice skills days. We’ve helped spruce up the Singleton Community Garden and planted trees for Landcare. Those days are good fun and help me to connect more with the local community. It feels good to give back. They are a great way for all the apprentices to come together. After your initial training you start working in different areas.   

What’s something about your job that would surprise people to know?

The fact that I am a female electrical apprentice in mining still surprises a lot of people. I get some funny looks when I tell people what I do for a living.

What do you do in your downtime?

With work, TAFE and study, I don’t have too much time on my hands. Weekends are for family and getting out with my two Australian blue heelers. I like to go camping when I can.

The mining industry gets more than its fair share of criticism. What is your view of our industry and the impact is has?

 A lot of people criticise mining without looking at the benefits it brings to their daily lives and to their communities. Mining provides a lot of jobs and other support to the economies of local communities. It gives people like me valuable skills and experience that we can take to other sectors in our community.

For me, mining is where I want to be.

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