Direct fly-in, fly-out flights from Albany to Paraburdoo have officially begun, and could not have come at a better time for Debbie Hallows.
This morning the newlywed will jet off to the Pilbara to start work at Rio Tinto’s Brockman 4 iron ore mine, operating a heavy-duty ultra-class dump truck, as part the company’s FIFO program which has been extended to Albany for the first time.
Twenty-one operators and maintenance fitters, living in and around Albany, will fly direct to Paraburdoo to work at the mining giant’s Brockman 4 site after a recruitment drive in December and January which attracted a huge response.
Two information evenings run by Rio Tinto in December at the Albany Town Hall attracted about 450 people interested in the 21 positions.
Organisation resources vice-president Joanne Farrell thanked Albany for its support of the FIFO program and said the company would offer more positions in Albany in the coming months.
Mrs Hallows said it was exciting to be offered the position after getting married just two weeks ago.
“It’s come at a good time, financially,” she said.
“We had a wedding to pay for and everything else and it definitely took a lot of stress off.”
Mrs Hallows said the job would give her and her husband Adrian Hallows the opportunity to buy some land and build a house.
As part of her new job, Mrs Hallows will drive a Komatsu 830E – an ultra-class truck nearly 7m tall, with an operating weight of close to 400 tonnes.
One might be forgiven for assuming driving such a beast would be a male-dominated career, however there are plenty of females in the industry according to Mrs Hallows, who has three years’ mining experience in the Kimberley and the Pilbara regions.
Fellow Albany FIFO recruit Jaron Fenwick said he was “stoked” to be picked up as a FIFO fixed-plant operator.
“I’ve got a little three-year-old and another one on the way, and the (eight-day-on six-day-off) roster I think actually allows you to spend more quality time with your family,” he said.
Trevor Jeffrey said he felt lucky to be picked as a maintenance fitter, and said FIFO would be a positive boost for Albany.
Ms Farrell said Rio Tinto’s regional FIFO program comprised more than 550 employees, flying to 14 mine operations.