My Mining Life – Gabriela Love

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Who are you and what do you do?

Gabriela Love – CHPP and Site Infrastructure Manager, Mt Arthur Coal BHP

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

After graduating as a mining engineer in 1985, my first job was to wash the bottles used for assaying gold in a small demountable lab in Southern Cross WA. Then I got a job screening and bagging samples on an exploration drill rig, after that I loaded 25 kg bags of ANFO into blast holes, but I really knew I’d made it when I landed a job as a dump truck driver.

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

Growing up I imagined becoming an architect designing amazing bridges and buildings, however over time I realised I wanted to live in the country and saw mining engineering as a career where I could work indoors and outdoors.

What’s a usual day at work entail?

Starting around 6am to attend pre-starts, followed by production meetings to understand daily performance. During the day, I spend time in the field speaking to the crews about the importance of safety on the job. Afternoons usually include more meetings and responding to emails.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Getting to work alongside talented, committed and passionate team members who love what they do. The crews work hard to achieve the production targets but what’s really inspiring is that they really care about each other and like to have a good laugh while at work.

The worst thing?

Early mornings during the cold dark winters.

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

Raising a family while continuing to progress my career, particularly during the 1990’s when paid maternity leave didn’t exist. If I didn’t return to work after having my kids, my job would have been given to someone else. So, I had 1 month off with my first baby and 2 weeks off with my second.

What has been your proudest achievement?

My proudest work moment was pioneering the use of high temperature explosives to blast hot ground and successfully collapsing underground workings, here in the Hunter Valley. The ground we successfully blasted had temperatures over 100 degrees.

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

I’m the site chair for the Inclusion and Diversity Council and our role is to provide educational experiences to the frontline at Mt Arthur to inspire personal action towards creating an inclusive workplace. The fun part about this role is that I get to facilitate a workshop every month with a cross-section of the entire workforce, where we explore why inclusion matters to each of us.

What’s a funny story about work that you can tell?

Recently, I was getting interviewed as part of a safety award submission involving a small loader that is only 100cm high and the videographer had his tripod ready to start the filming, but when I stood on the designated point, he realised that I’m 152cm tall (with my steel caps on), so he re-adjusted all the equipment to fit me into the frame. The legs on the tripod had to be fully retracted, much to the amusement of the team watching on. One onlooker quipped, “now you’re making the loader look big!”

What do you do in your downtime?

I love gardening and have an orchard with 10 fruit trees that keep me busy, but I also enjoy travelling and going to music festivals.

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

These days mining companies are like any good café – they don’t stay in business unless they are doing a good job. For mining that means doing the right thing for the environment and our communities. I’m proud to work for a company that incorporates social value into our everyday activities to ensure we don’t have a negative impact on our environment and communities in which we operate. Without mining, the comforts we enjoy today would not be possible, like our mobile phones, the cutlery we eat with and the tiles on the roof. In particular, coal helps keep the lights on and our homes warm during those cold dark winters.

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