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From replicas to the real deal

In his words: How Corban Atzeni, a Mobile Maintenance Technician for Operations Services at BMA Blackwater Mine, went from playing with replica dump trucks in the sandpit, to operating the real machinery in the coal pit. Here, he shares how he landed his dream job.

I was once a young lad who dreamt of bigger things.

As I sat in my sand box playing with my replica 1998 Caterpillar 797 series dump truck thinking is this as good as life could get, little did I know that this Christmas present from my parents would play a huge role in what life would bring me in the future.

Over the next few years from being a small child to becoming a young adult these dreams were somewhat forgotten between playing sport and not thinking of the future past school.

I loved pulling apart and resembling anything I could get my hands on to see how it worked - push bikes, small hobby boat motors, mowers...whipper snippers.

It wasn’t until Year 11 when the question came "what would you like to do after school"?

Everyone had two weeks to decide on a future. For me, there was no thought other than being a Diesel Fitter.


Corban spent two weeks of work experience at John Deere and upon finishing high school was offered an apprenticeship. This set him up for the future, and one day following his dream of working on that 1998 Caterpillar 797 series dump truck.

For the next couple of years, Corban worked in the Burdekin region in the Sugar Cane industry, before moving to Townsville where he gained an apprenticeship working on Caterpillar RM500 and RM300 Stabilisers, and 140H and 12H Graders.

Over the next couple of years, Corban continued to work in maintenance in the agricultural industry, until he received a call that would change his life - a position which meant he was able to receive his Completion Engineering Mechanical Trade Certificate.


After all these years what should I do?

It was like a message from above when I saw a post for BHP Operations Services looking for Diesel Fitters in the Bowen Basin.

This is too perfect of course I couldn’t let this go by.

I applied, and after a few nervous days waiting and thinking I probably had zero chance, I received an email to come for an interview in Brisbane.

Rain hail or shine I was going to get there.

One week later I was In Brisbane like a fish out of water finding my way to the interview.

A few days past and the phone call that I had been waiting for came through "can you please go for your medical?".

Two weeks later, and finally - "Congratulations - we are delighted to confirm your offer of employment with BHP for the position of OS Maintenance – Diesel Fitter". I had finally done it!

That seven-year-old boy playing in the sand box with his beloved toys thinking life couldn’t get any better had just accomplished his lifelong dream.

Every day I step foot on this Blackwater Mine site is cherished.

Dreams do come true if you work hard enough, and it’s a bonus that the team here is unreal to work with and it’s like one big family.

Every day I learn more and more with the help of my supervisor and peers, and gain a greater understanding of safety because at the end of the day everyone wants to go home safe.

And I know, it’s not the original 1998 Caterpillar 797 series read dump truck, but the 793D and 793F Caterpillar series rear dump trucks are the same in my books.

Maybe, one day I might get to work on the old 1998 Caterpillar 797 series because anything is possible.


This article was written by Corban Atzeni.