My Mining Life: Ross Carlson

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Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Ross Carlson, Manager Engineering and Mining Engineering Manager at BHP’s Mt Arthur Coal mine in Muswellbrook.

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

I have been in the mining industry for over 23 years, and 20 years of that with BHP. I started at Rio Tinto’s Hamersley Iron Ore operations. My first job was driving a truck and working as a shot-firer at Tom Price Mine. 

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

I went from dairy farming to mining and engineering, with the biggest difference being leadership and technical problem solving.

What’s a usual day at work entail?

My team would say delegation, but it is a mix of problem solving for statutory, mining and engineering disciplines. Our team has a routine of setting weekly goals and delivering on these keeps us all accountable.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The talented people and teams that I have worked with over my career, there are always so many opportunities to learn while loving what you do.

The worst thing?

While we take every precaution, my role is on the frontlines when things don’t go quite right. I have had to deal with serious incidents with people getting injured. I see the impacts on our people and their families as well as on the operation. It has really instilled in me an unwavering commitment to safety.

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

We had a serious fire incident a few years ago which resulted in one of our team sustaining burns. Thankfully the person recovered – but it was challenging. The rewarding part is making the changes to protect others from the same type of event.

What has been your proudest achievement?

Over the past 20 years building a strong team culture has always been the most rewarding achievement. Our engineering team is professional, driven and has some of the highest culture results in BHP, it is great to be part of such an amazing team. It is my belief that a leader makes the team, people will give so much more if they work in an inclusive and respectful environment.

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

My role requires me to be on call 24/7, which becomes part of your lifestyle over time.

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

I was conducting a mine inspection with an environmental inspector some years ago, and they were so insistent that we drive into a remote area of the mine during wet weather that we got bogged and were stuck for hours. They then walked many kilometers to complete the inspection on foot, which is commitment.

What do you do in your downtime?

I enjoy family time with my wife Eliza and my three boys Harry, Noah and Finn.  Most of the time is spent with the boy’s active sporting commitments and I like to complete home improvement tasks, mainly generated from my wife’s job list.

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

The mining industry provides benefits to everyone in the community while also providing the resources required for modern society. We’re an industry that others can learn from by focusing on the health, safety, and environmental risks that we actively manage day in day out.

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