When Zac Smirnios grew up in the tiny opal mining town of Andamooka, in remote South Australia, he never dreamt he would one day help keep the wheels of a global resources company turning.
But having successfully completed a BHP Apprenticeship, Zac is now a qualified diesel mechanic and works as a mobile maintenance technician at the Company’s Olympic Dam site, in South Australia.
Olympic Dam is one of the world’s largest ore bodies and Zac is part of the BHP team responsible for servicing and repairing everything and anything that moves at the mine site. Located 560 kilometres north of Adelaide, and adjacent to the town of Roxby Downs, Olympic Dam produces copper, gold and uranium and also has a significant deposit of silver.
“The focus on apprenticeship training at BHP is about building up your skills and confidence,” he said. But confidence is something Zac has never lacked.
While at high school, he took part in a two day a week pre-vocational engineering program and then, through the not-for-profit organisation, MEGT, secured an apprenticeship with BHP.
Since 2014, MEGT and BHP have run a collaborative program that has recruited more than 90 apprentices across numerous BHP sites.
In 2016 Zac won the MEGT High Achiever award.
“MEGT helped me see a career pathway into BHP and I was lucky enough to pick up my apprenticeship as a result” he said.
“Once you are working for BHP you get the sense that they believe in you, and that you can achieve whatever you want to. “It is a great system that can take you as far as you want to go,” he said.
Zac found the environment so stimulating that he finished his apprenticeship training ten months ahead of schedule.
“They encourage you and guide you all the way along, and you can reach out and talk to anyone about what you are doing, and where you are going.”
Dump trucks, rock breakers, charge up trucks and graders are just some of the machines Zac works on.
“I feel very proud of my achievements and so are my family, and it has had a really positive impact on me.
“The great thing about BHP is that because of its size, it offers such in-depth training.”
Zac said he finds his work at Olympic Dam very interesting, although not what he imagined.
“You feel like you are part of something really big because you get to see that the work you do has a positive impact on the entire mine. "You are not just achieving something in your own department, you are achieving something much bigger than that, by helping to keep the entire operation running.”