Students broaden their horizons with visit to Ernest Henry Mining

A group of talented minors from South East Queensland schools has had a glimpse of what everyday life is like at a working mine in the North West.

Fifteen Year 10 students, an entourage of four teachers and a tour director recently had the opportunity to visit Ernest Henry Mining (EHM), located 38 kilometres outside of Cloncurry, to learn about the copper and gold mining and processing operation.

The visit formed part of an 11-day Experiential Careers Program Field Trip, hosted by leading school tour company Student Horizons, that saw students get insight into a variety of industries and traverse Queensland with stopovers at the Sunshine Coast, Barcaldine, Longreach, Winton, Cloncurry and Cairns before heading home.

The Student Horizons group.

Much like the fly in, fly out component of the workforce, the group arrived at the Cloncurry Airport before being coached to the EHM Village where FIFO employees and contractors stay in their ‘home away from home’.

Students were able to experience this often unseen side of mine life and appreciate first-hand how the workforce lives, with a tour of the EHM Village facilities, including pool, tennis court, gym, village green and accommodation.

They were also able to get a taste of the cuisine on offer for the night, including tandoori grilled snapper, chilli plum pork stir fry, spaghetti with grilled zucchini garlic, herbs and parmesan, and apple and cinnamon pie with custard.

Students had the chance to stay overnight at the EHM Village located about eight kilometres from the mine.

EHM General Manager, Aaron Harrison, says it was great for the students to visit a working mine and see the operation in action.

“They were quickly immersed in mine life and after dinner had to pack their crib before turning in for an early 5.00am start the next morning.”

"Donning hard hats, high vis and other personal protective equipment, the students were onsite early to have a surface tour of the mine and the Copper Concentrator."

The group that went underground seeing first-hand what the crib room looks like.
Team Leader and Metallurgist Kyle Seng taking explaining how the plant works.

“Their attention was drawn to the pit created when we were an open cut operation, where about 700 million tonnes of material was extracted before it was completed in December 2011,” says Aaron.

“They were able to gain an appreciation of the underground sub-level caving mining method we use which is designed to cause subsidence in the southern wall of the pit.”

“It was really great they could see our light vehicles entering the underground mine portal located towards the bottom of the pit as it provides context to the size and scale of our operations.”

Teacher and Leader of Pathways at Unity College Amanda Paton, St Peters Lutheran College student Luke Burger, and Unity College student Molly Whelan had the opportunity to go underground at EHM.
Students working on the real-world challenge of what’s needed to attract the next generation of skilled workers and professionals to the resources sector.

“Students were able to learn about the importance of copper in modern society and that mining can be conducted in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable,” Aaron says.

Two students and a teacher had the opportunity to be taken on an underground tour, while the rest of the group worked on the real-world challenge of what’s needed to attract the next generation of skilled workers and professionals to the resources sector.

Teacher and Leader of Pathways at Unity College Amanda Paton says one of the highlights of the trip was getting the opportunity to go underground.

“It was such a unique and unforgettable experience to see what the underground environment is like,” says Amanda.

The underground tour group at the face of a drive.

“Most people won’t get the chance to see something like this and it was interesting to see how they mine and the machinery involved.”

“Experiences like these cannot be achieved in a traditional school setting and it was fantastic to see the students really embrace and engage like they did,” Amanda says.

St Peters Lutheran College student Luke Burger also visited underground and was captivated by the subterranean environment and infrastructure.

“Going underground was fascinating and we got to see a jumbo drill in action, visited the underground primary crusher and the crib room where the workers have lunch,” says Luke.

Small groups of students were taken through the Copper Concentrator where they learnt about milling and flotation.
Students going through the Copper Concentrator.

“This trip has been an amazing experience and I’ve learnt a lot about mining and processing.”

“I was impressed with how Ernest Henry make a concerted effort to re-use and recycle almost 99 per cent of the water onsite,” Luke says.

EHM General Manager, Aaron Harrison, says the personnel at EHM were proud to have the chance to show the students what they did onsite.

“We hope this trip has enriched the lives of these students and opened their eyes to the broad spectrum of amazing careers like geology, mining engineering and metallurgy in the resources sector.”

“We trust this has set the students on a pathway to success, whatever that may be,” says Aaron.