One of the most important things for families in Regional Australia is keeping jobs in Regional Australia. That’s because local jobs means families and friends and communities can stay together.
And so it has been for Meg Prior, her family and the close knit community of Roxby Downs, 550 kms north of Adelaide.
“I grew up and lived here in Roxy Downs for 17 years. My dad is an underground supervisor and mum is a cost controller so it’s kind of in my blood.”
That’s not to say Meg was always planning a career in mining.
“In year 12 I was still focussed on studying so I didn’t really have any plans for what I was going to do.”
While Meg didn’t have any plans, her parents knew how important getting that first job can be, so when Meg’s father saw a local opportunity - a 12 month traineeship ending with a certificate in metalliferous mining, he encouraged Meg to have a go at it.
That opportunity eventually led to an interview with BHP for a permanent trucking position at BHP’s Olympic Dam site which extracts copper, gold, silver and uranium.
It was there that something unexpected happened.
“I came to realise that I loved driving trucks. I loved learning about all the different processes and thought to myself – this is what I want to do. I’m happy. It was a complete surprise to me.”
It was a surprise to others too as Meg would discover from the look on stranger’s faces when she told them she drove dump trucks for a living.
But driving a truck was just the beginning before more opportunities came her way.
“I was an underground truck operator for two and a half years and in that time my superintendent offered me the opportunity to study mining engineering. So, I’ve been studying that while working for over a year now.”
She is currently in her second year with another two to go and a lot more interesting things to learn.
“Just learning about the old school mining days and people who've worked in different places, not just Olympic Dam. And now my current role is learning about why our processes are the way they are and the more technical side of it.”
So, from just having a go at driving trucks to surprising herself that she loves doing it, to finding more and more opportunities, Meg is excited about the future.
And she is still close to her family and community she grew up with.