A group of 16 Port Augusta students and staff recently visited BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam in Northern South Australia and Arid Recovery, a unique site north of Olympic Dam’s operation where the release of previously extinct animals from the mainland of Australia is successfully occurring.
The Aboriginal students, all participants in The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program, were taken on a guided site tour of the above ground operation, following the trail that the mined ore takes from when it arrives to the surface and through the refinery process.
Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success co-ordinator Kelly Kimber said the students also attended a talk and learnt about pathways and opportunities at the mine.
After the visit, student Ebony Reinertsen said one job she would apply for at BHP Billiton was a Mechanic Apprenticeship because it would be cool to fix all of the HUGE machines.
Ms Kimber said the pinnacle of the trip was to hear first-hand from Aboriginal employees and apprentices including their journeys to employment with BHP Billiton. Students then toured the town centre of Roxby Downs and the Roxby Downs Area School/TAFE-SA Trade Training Centre.
“Arid Recovery was an eye opening experience for the students, as they were able to see land, free from feral animals that were introduced into Australia,” Ms Kimber said. “Students were also able to interact with animals such as bettongs and a shy but friendly bilby and participate in a guided night walk and a tracking and trapping workshop.”
“I loved the animals I saw at Arid Recovery. It was amazing to see a bilby. I think I will definitely do a degree in Animal or Environmental Science,” student Kaylyn Giles said.
“My favourite thing is that they taught us how to tell tracks of native animals. I learnt that feral cats are bad for arid recovery and the animals,” student Sam Parkes said.
BHP Billiton Olympic Dam Principal Community, Chad Menzies, said it was great to give students an insight into the operation and the many opportunities that exist at Olympic Dam.
“The visit was a really valuable opportunity for us to showcase the diverse range of opportunities that exist at Olympic Dam and to support students to find alternative pathways that are available to them within the region,” he said.
“The students were enthusiastic and showed a keen interest in the operation, the surrounding area, and the types of roles available on site.”
The Port Augusta Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program has been in place since 2007 and is currently supported by BHP Billiton Olympic Dam, Alinta, Genesee & Wyoming Australia Pty Ltd, Ant and Mary Lou Simpson, and the Government of South Australia: Department of Education and Child Development, Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology and Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy.
Port Augusta Follow the Dream/Partnerships for success project co-ordinator Kelly Kimber
T: (08) 8647 3300
Photo: Port Augusta Follow the Dream students Kallan Warren, Payden Woods, Emily Anderson and Sam Parkes listen to Arid Recovery Education Co-ordinator Perri Carter talk about animal tracking.