User Spotlight: Graham Styles

  • Written by 
  • Wednesday, 23 January 2013 13:26
(2 votes)

Name: Graham Styles (aka Nickelman)

Age: 41

Location: Western Australia

Position: Processing Technician and Nickel – specialising in utilities and power generation

Tools of choice:  My job is computer based… so aside from that, spanners and hammers!

How long have you been in your current job?  I’ve spent 23 years in the mining industry.  In that time I’ve worked on six different worksites throughout WA.  I’ve been at my current worksite for just over a year.

What got you into the mining industry?  I grew up in Kalgoorlie, and my dad owned an engineering business there.  I left school at 16 and did a few small jobs such as a Postie and a Car Exhaust Sitter.  Once I was old enough to get onto the worksite, I started working for dad.

What do you like the most about your job?  It’s a challenge every day.  The operations of the plant and the processes inside of mining change all the time, so there’s always something different going on.

What do you like least about your job?  There isn’t actually anything in my current job now that I don’t like.  Previously, I was doing FIFO, and I couldn’t stand it.  I’ve got a wife and three kids in Perth so I hated FIFO with a passion.

When you’re on a break from work, we’ll find you:  In front of TV at home or looking after the kids, because my wife works when I’m not working.  I also do a fair bit of kayaking and running.

How would you describe the mining lifestyle?  I love it, the money is good, the rosters are good, and usually you’ve got interesting people to work with.  I go on a ‘Sportsman’s Roster’ so usually I get two weekends on and two weekends off.

What have been some of your best memories working in the industry?  The contacts.  I’ve met a lot of people, and I keep in touch with them on Facebook, talk to them about what worksites they’re on and what they’re doing.  It’s amazing how you can get back in touch with people you’ve lost touch with in the last few years.  Recently I just caught up with some friends who I haven’t seen for 20 years… people I worked with in the 80’s and 90’s when I was just starting out.

If you could wear anything other than a fluro suit to work, what would you wear?  Something in a lighter colour.  Polo shirts were quite comfy back in early days… we used to wear them and shorts to work.

If there's one thing you could change about the mining industry, what would it be?  Get rid of the politics.

What is your ultimate goal in the industry?  To set myself up for retirement.

How does shift work affect your personal life?  I don’t catch up with friends that aren’t on shift work as much as I’d like to – and lots of people are doing FIFO, so the roster is different.  I had to put the kids in daycare once so I could have a round of golf with a mate who works offshore.

Is the larger pay packet worth it for all of the long hours and exposure to hazards?  I don’t think I could ever do Monday-Friday.   I’ve been doing shift work for 23 years and I couldn’t change back to it.  I wouldn’t like to go back to eight-hour shifts either… I’d much prefer to do a 12 hour day and have more time off and more of a personal life.

Would you encourage your children to get into this industry?  Yes, but I’d like them to get a better education first.

What advice do you have for people looking to enter the Mining industry?  It’s much easier to get into the industry if you’re willing to go residential and do a country stint, rather than FIFO.  So my advice would be to move to a residential place, there’s a lot more openings.

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Is the mining boom in Australia over?

Is the mining boom in Australia over?

No, it's just media hype.
Yes as a result of lower demand.
There will be a second boom.
Still plenty of resources.
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