My name is Lucy and I’m a mining engineer at Mount Isa Mines (MIM) with Glencore in North West Queensland. I graduated from UNSW at the end of 2020 and, since then, have had two different mining engineering roles with Glencore. The role I’m in currently is the Short Term Scheduling Engineer, in short it’s my job to develop a schedule for the mine on a weekly and monthly basis. There are many different avenues to take as a mining engineer so this is just a snapshot of what one role looks like. 


The mine runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so Monday mornings are always pretty busy with catching up on what’s happened over the weekend. Part of my scheduling role is gathering all of the ‘physicals’ of what’s happened over the weekend including, how many metres of new tunnels we’ve mined, how many metres were drilled (to get ready for loading with explosives to blast) and how many tonnes of ore we’ve moved. Every morning I gather that data ready for our daily meeting where we talk about those numbers and how we went according to the plan. In the afternoon, I lead our weekly electrical priorities meeting when we look at all the electrical jobs coming up and determine the highest priorities to assist in setting the plan so that the mine can run at its most efficient. 


Every Tuesday afternoon is our ‘Stope* Draw’ meeting. This meeting is where we plan which stopes we will be extracting ore from for the week, how much ore we will take out of each and if we’ll need any firings** to make the ore available for us to move.

Living in a country town, Tuesday nights are for pub trivia! I go with a regular team and we have a pretty fierce competition (albeit all in good fun) against the team of chemical engineers. 


For me, Wednesdays are all about setting the week plans (our week starts on a Thursday). After our daily site meeting, I start preparing for our ‘interactions’ meeting – I get the week plans from all of our different departments and put them together to determine if there will be any two work teams trying to work in the same place at the same time. We then engage the stakeholders to go through any of those interactions and decide on the priorities or if they can work together in there. 


MIM mines copper ore, which is then processed in a copper concentrator to create concentrate and this concentrate is then smelted to produce copper anodes. On a Thursday morning, representatives from all of those areas meet to talk about our progress over the last week and what the next week looks like. I get to talk about the mine’s production statistics and field any questions from the other areas. Thursday afternoons we work on the development of next month’s plan – as a scheduling team we hold a meeting with the design and operational teams to run through the forecasts for next month, this also gives them an opportunity to provide us with feedback about potential changes that need to be made to the plan. We do this each week so that by the end of the month the plan is set and ready to go for the following month.

Thursday means netball night. Mount Isa has a huge netball competition with over 500 players and was a great way for me to meet lots of new people when I moved here. I also joined the committee for the netball association to give back to the community. 


Fridays don’t have any specific tasks but depending on the time of month there is always lots to do (which I also do during the other days in between the meetings). At the start of the month we spend time reporting on the previous month and at the end of month I work on finalisation of plans for the next month. Through the middle of the month there’s more time for projects and getting underground. 


No work! Being in North West Queensland, there is loads to do over the weekend be it social events, races and rodeos or exploring the region. This weekend for example is the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo, which is the biggest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere, and it includes horse races, four days of rodeo events, rides, markets and music concerts. There’s no doubt, I rarely have a weekend where there isn’t something to do. 

*Stope – The type of underground mining we use is called Sub-Level Open Stope and we extract the ore in blocks, these are called stopes. Imagine a block of chocolate – we take every second block (stope), then fill in all those holes, then take all the blocks left over.

**Firings – These are big blasts underground using explosives the break the solid ground up so that it’s in a manageable size to be picked up and moved by a loader.  

For more information about studying Mining Engineering at UNSW Sydney visit the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering.