15 August 2022
18 years ago Donna Vella stepped foot on our BHP Mitsubishi Alliance's Peak Downs Mine site, and said she won’t be leaving until she’s ready to retire.
Donna joined the team as a truck driver, after deciding on a career and lifestyle change.
She said she would look out her truck window on the circuit and see the blast crew on the ground, and was keen to learn more about their work.
She put her hand up to join the drill and blast team, and was seconded for three months.
Here is where she has progressed her career, become a mentor to others joining the team and found her passion in the pit.
“I didn’t know about blasting until I was onsite as a truck driver, and I’d look out and see the people loading shots. It really took my interest and after a while I started talking to the team and realised it’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
“I loved being in the blast crew, and eventually they started to train me up to become a shotfirer – I was the first female shotfirer trained up 10 years ago.
“I was a trainee shotfirer for two years and had to run shots every day and build up my capability. It was an intense period of training before you’re signed off because you have to learn every aspect of the job.”
Donna continued to train, hone her skills and learn from the best in the business.
“I have always been interested in learning more and I was trained to fire digital shots. I still remember the old school way before we went to electronic blasting. A lot has changed, but what I love about the job is it’s never the same day,” she said.
“I’m now progressing to be a blast controller – I’ll be the first female at Peak trained in this role. I feel like I’ve come full circle.”
She said her time at Peak Downs Mine has been full of positive experiences and memories.
“I’m proud to be part of this operation, and I love coming to work every day,” she said.
“It’s crazy to think it’s been 50 years of operating at Peak. My 18 years have gone so fast and every day I come to work happy.
“You get a real job satisfaction when you’re trusted to get the job done.
“I’ve always thought this would be my forever job. This is where I’ll be when I retire.”
This year Peak Downs Mine celebrates 50 years of operating. Keep an eye out for more employee profiles as we celebrate this milestone.