Unique Opportunities for St Peters Students

The school holidays, for most students, signal time spent with family, relaxing either at, or not far from home—but for Year 10 students, Luke, Matthew, Connor and Dean, the most recent school holidays were a time of eye-opening experiences and incredible learning opportunities. The four St Peters students had signed up to broaden their horizons with Student Horizons. Along with 11 other South East Queensland students, they embarked on an 11-day Experiential Careers Program, gaining insights into a range of industries around Queensland and stopping over at the Sunshine Coast, Barcaldine, Longreach, Winton, Cloncurry and Cairns.

The program not only gave the students the opportunity to gain work experience in aviation, agriculture, tourism and mining, but also saw them completing micro-credentials (a real bonus as they start to think about entering the workforce!). To say the holiday period was a very different one for our students would be an understatement—instead heading to the movies with their mates, they spent time in the Magistrate Court; while other students were at home playing video games, the group worked between an abattoir and the Alliance Airline hangar; and, rather than soaking up the sun by the pool, or on the beach, the group went deep underground at Ernest Henry Mining (EHM), 38 kilometres outside of Cloncurry.

Experiencing FIFO life

When the Experiential Careers Program group arrived at Cloncurry Airport (an hour and a half east of Mt Isa), they were transferred by coach to the EHM Village, just as the Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) employees and contractors are each roster rotation. There, the students got to experience mining life first hand—they toured the EHM Village facilities (including the pool, tennis court, gym and the village green) and they got to stay the night in the Village accommodation, sampling the food provided to the workers before waking early to see the working mine operation in action.

The day commenced at 5:00am. The students donned hard hats, high vis gear and other personal protective equipment and then went on a surface tour of the mine and the Copper Concentrator. During the tour, the students observed the pit that had been created when the mine was an open cut operation. They learnt, from EHM General Manager, Aaron Harrison, that around 700 million tonnes of material had been extracted from the pit before it was completed in December 2011!

Next, the students learnt about the underground sub-level caving mining method currently in use in the southern wall of the pit. They watched light vehicles entering the underground mine portal toward the bottom of the pit and gained an appreciation for the size and scale of the mining operations.

Unexpected discoveries

Throughout their mining expedition, the students learnt about the importance of copper in modern society. They also learnt that mining can be conducted in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable—a point that surprised most of the students.

“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 (Year 10) said.

Luke was one of just three people selected to venture underground. He joined one other student and an accompanying teacher to go on the underground tour, while the rest of the group attempted to address the real-world challenge currently facing the mining industry: what’s needed to attract the next generation of skilled workers and professionals to the resource sector?

“Going underground was fascinating,” Luke said. “We got to see a jumbo drill in action, visited the underground primary crusher and the crib room where the workers have lunch. [The trip was] an amazing experience.”

Mission accomplished

EHM General Manager, Aaron Harrison, shared that the aim of having the students visit the mine was to ‘open their eyes to the broad spectrum of amazing careers like geology, mining, engineering and metallurgy in the resources sector’. By showing what happens daily on site, the EHM staff inspired the group, with many learning so much more about mining and processing than they’d expected.

The Experiential Careers Program was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The students gained access to remote workplaces and saw things many will never get to see. To find out more about the extra-curricular opportunities available to St Peters students, click here, or book a tour to see our College in action for yourself!

Thank you to Glencore for sharing this article about the 2021 Student Horizons experience.