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Kay celebrates 45 years at Blackwater Mine

If you work at BMA Blackwater Mine and are met with a problem you can’t solve, or a question you need the answer to, you can almost guarantee someone will tell you – “just ask Kay”.

Everyone will know who you’re talking about because Kay Orr is almost as iconic as the site herself.

This year, Kay celebrates 45 years of service at Blackwater Mine, in a career she walked into after she finished high school, and never left.

Kay, moved to Blackwater when she was about nine years old, when her dad was offered a job at Blackwater Mine in the wash plant.

Kay’s brother also followed suite, with an apprenticeship at the site, and when she finished school she set her sights on becoming a secretary.  

“My mother talked to the office manager at the time and I went out for my interview and was hired as the “Tea Girl”,” Kay said with a laugh.

Serving coffee, tea and biscuits to the people in the office, Kay continued to progress her career at site and ended up working as a Telex Operator, Office Manager’s Secretary, Payroll Officer and Receptionist, until she moved across to the Maintenance department, where she is now, as the Administration Officer.

“I was proud of how we used to do the payroll,” Kay said as she reminisced on her career.

“We would go collect the money from the bank, and had security guards come out with us.

“You’d count it out and it would go into the vault, and every Friday people would walk in and pick up their pay packets – we even had a window, it was like a takeaway service.”

Looking back, Kay said a lot had changed at site with the progression of technology and a lot more women working in different roles.

“When I first started, there was no such thing as a lady truck driver,” Kay said.

“All the women at site were secretaries or administration officers, and we’d all get dressed up and have social outings together.

“It was one big family, and we had a great time.”

Now, Kay said it’s refreshing to see women in management roles, operating machinery or maintaining equipment.

Her daughter Bonita, is one of them – the third generation of Kay’s family to work at Blackwater Mine, paving a pathway for the family’s legacy at the Operation and in the local community.

“We like to reminisce, and I really do like Blackwater – it’s got everything we all need,” she said.

45 years in the industry, and at the one Operation, is a milestone worth celebrating for Kay.  

Recently, the Maintenance Department at Blackwater Mine hosted its own Service Awards where it recognised longstanding team members at site. 

Kay jokes when it came to organising the event she was in charge of all the logistics.

“I even ordered the cake,” she added with a laugh.

“I guess I’m the point of call, if no one else knows – ask Kay.”