Beltana a hit with summer school students

AN UNDERGROUND visit to Xstrata Coal’s Beltana longwall was a trip highlight for 37 high school students, who this month were treated to a four-day summer school by the University of New South Wales School of Mining Engineering.

Angie Tomlinson

The students, entering Year 11 or 12 this year, came from all parts of NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory with a large number of students from rural areas.

The UNSW Minerals Summer School, sponsored by Xstrata, began on January 15 with a day at the university, where the students were given talks about the industry and career options including mining engineering, geological and environmental.

The afternoon was spent in small work groups in the rock testing and ventilation laboratories; in the computer laboratory finding minesites around the country using Google's satellite imagery-based mapping product, Google Earth; and in the Virtual Reality Laboratory where students were each put through time trials on a load-haul-dump cycle for a large mine dump truck in a “virtual mine”

On the second day the group set out for the Hunter Valley where an underground visit to Beltana, as well as the adjacent Bulga opencut mine, was a trip highlight.

That night, staying in Pokolbin, the students were joined by eight young recent graduates (geology, mining and environmental) currently working in the industry, who spoke on their early careers and why they enjoy the industry and the career choices they have made.

The next day was a visit to the Orica Mining Services Technical Centre at Kurri Kurri, where the group was treated to talks and videos of blast designs, simulations and actual blasts from mines around the world.

Next the students drove up to BHP Billiton’s Mt Arthur North opencut mine.

The final day included a morning at Boral’s Peats Ridge basalt quarry to see some spectacular geological features of columnar basalt, as well as finding out about the differing demands and economics of the quarrying sector.

At the end of the school, 91% of the students indicated that as a result of the trip they would definitely be considering a career in the minerals industry.

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