15 September 2022
Sometimes it’s only when BHP Integrated Remote Operations Centre (IROC+) Controller Kirsten Sheehan pops outside onto the city streets that it hits home the mine she’s working on is located more than 800 kilometres away.
“It always blows my mind that I can be working from a virtual control room in the middle of the city, while keeping my BMA colleagues across multiple mine sites safe,” Kirsten said.
“Upstairs in the control room, we have two-way communications allowing us to talk in real-time with our colleagues on site, about 10 screens beaming views from the mine and multiple pages we flick between constantly throughout the day,” Kirsten says. “During my shift, I really feel like I’m there.”
As well as attention to detail, Kirsten says the ability to communicate and connect are vital skills for her role as a Fixed Plant Controller.
“I’m dealing with people who I may only see face-to-face a couple of times a year, but I have to build a rapport virtually so they feel confident in me when I’m guiding them,” she says.
Before returning to her home state in Queensland for her current role, Kirsten worked at BHP’s Nickel West smelter in Kalgoorlie in West Australia.
“I followed my brother to WA looking for an adventure and nearly 10 years ago landed a job working with 1300 degree molten metal with Nickel West,” Kirsten explains.
“I’d be standing three metres away from 120 tonnes of molten nickel, which is basically lava, so it really drummed in the importance of precision to maintain safety – something I still draw on every day in my role at IROC+.
“It’s amazing how that one decision to move to Kalgoorlie has shaped my working life – I have the best job and would recommend this type of work to everyone.”