Onsite mining requires workers to stay in mining camp accommodation for periods from a few days up to a few months. Depending on the role and the contract, miners are obliged to live and work at the mine, with breaks to fly home at regular intervals. To really know what it’s like working in the mines, you have to know the specific whereabouts of the mining site where you will be residing.
In Australian mining camps, accommodation is a primary concern. Mining employers need to ensure that their staff are living comfortably. Staff quarters provide portable homes which measure from 2m x 4m to 6m x 8m usually with en-suites. All basic amenities like refrigerators, running water, electricity, television and beds are available in the camp.
The portable homes on mine sites are set up at great expense. While steps are taken to keep set up and maintenance costs down, and the dwellings are simple, outside companies are usually contracted to ensure the buildings are set up and maintained correctly. This includes management of the air conditioning units, and all the pipework and plumbing.
Mining firms take good care of the welfare of their employees. They provide the staff with excellent living conditions to make them happy and comfortable. This is one way of encouraging more workers to move into the industry and minimize turnover rates.
Sporting facilities are provided to all employees to ensure an active lifestyle. A fully equipped gym is available for all camp staff anytime. Some larger mines provide better facilities like swimming pools, football fields, basketball courts and other outdoor sports venues.
Staff do not have to worry about cooking their own meals. A mess hall is built where employees can eat their food. All meals are ready to serve for 24-hour operations. The mine kitchens and mess halls are set up as temporary structures as well, but usually on a much larger scale than the housing. Mining kitchens have all the same functionality of any other commercial kitchen including working ovens, microwaves, electricity, and running how water. To set these kitchens up, outside contractors such as 3monkeez who specialize in commercial kitchens are usually recruited.
Donga (the name of the temporary accommodation) cleaning services are provided two to three times a week. This means you do not to worry cleaning up your quarter’s mess. After a long hard day at work you can simply lie down and relax in your bed or in the communal areas.
Mine work is physically and mentally draining
For those who get easily homesickness, a plus a phone/internet connection will surely become your best friend. You can easily get in touch with your loved-ones or watch movies on cable television in your time-off while onsite.
If you are planning to save, working in the mines provides forced savings. Although there may be bars within the site, there is no opportunity for shopping. Earning a good sum of money is possible, so save some of it while you’re here and don’t blow it all on your short time back home each month. Forced saving is an advantage to achieve long-term overall financial goals that will help set you up for life.
Challenges and Setbacks
Despite the comforts of living onsite, residing in a mining camp has its own challenges. Some workers will experience emotional pressure as they are away from family and friends. In most cases, mining staff also work beyond the normal 40-hour workweek. This may extend to working 7 days a week and 12 or even 14 hours daily. In the long run, this can get exhausting.
Mines are usually situated in distant, dry locations where workers are exposed to heat, dust and flies. Summer heat is so intense at times it is almost unbearable. Irritation and dehydration from the scorching heat of the sun is a common scenario for outdoor workers.
Work at the mining sites is usually quite repetitive day-in and day-out. It is a routine where work usually starts early and ends late. Doing this for 7 days a week at 12 hours daily can be frustrating and mentally taxing. Because most mines are in remote areas there are not usually and towns nearby so there is little to help you escape from the daily grind. For most workers it is all work-and-sleep regimen, where the breaks off site can never come soon enough.
With regard to the camp food, most of the meals are served in bulk portions. No matter how good the food tastes, some still look for the home cooked meal. Also, alcohol drinking is very limited as workers are being monitored ‘fit for work’ based on the health and safety compliance of Australian mining companies. Typically though, many of the miners manage to drink more than they should on a regular occasion.