Just a quick pic I took several trips ago at Yarrie mine site. I was waiting at dawn at the main gate to the site and snapped a few picks like this one.
Posts Tagged ‘mining’
Just a quick clip I threw together after finishing unloading in the Gt Sandy Desert at Telfer gold mine and the Nifty copper mine. Trailers all hooked up and heading back to Perth, albeit a little covered in dirt.
There are few things more frustrating for a truck driver than dealing with car drivers who, through ignorance or stupidity, seem determined to add their names to the nations road toll list.
This has always been a problem in the cities and the more populated coastal areas-in fact, the coastal areas during long weekends/school holidays and the like are notorious for car drivers behaving badly around trucks. The Brand Highway in Western Australia, part of Highway 1 which circles the entire continent, is a prime example of this-several years ago at Easter I had to leave the road twice in the space of three hours to avoid collisions holiday makers. Pretty scary shit in a roadtrain.
Well, with the increase in mining in the inland areas of the Pilbara employees of companies like BHP, Rio Tinto and FMG and their subcontractors have shown they aren’t afraid of pulling out in front of a fully laden triple or quad roadtrain travelling on the Great Northern Highway. In the Newman area there are four hotspots-at least one of these locations will guarantee you a “panic brake” incident on your trucks’ data logger if you drive thru at shift change.
The first is Capricorn Roadhouse. The roadhouse is located on a bend in the Gt Northern Hwy about 16km south of Newman. Next door is a whole lot of accommodation for Fly in-Fly out (FIFO) workers. Now, occasionally you’ll get a roadhouse customer pulling out at a stupid moment but the vast majority of idiots come from the FIFO workers that seem to think their diesel 4×4 can out accelerate a truck coming through at 90kph. Doesn’t always happen like they think it will.
Number two is “The Nullagine Road”. It enters the Gt Northern Hwy from the east and has plenty of straight road to the north and south so drivers should be able to see traffic coming at them. Should. Not do. This intersection is a favourite with all the bus drivers given the job of safely delivering the workers to and from the work sites every shift. I think a few of these bus drivers get their kicks turning the helpless passengers into quivering wrecks-I know I’d be happy to let the cool kids sit down the back if my driver had just pulled out into the path of 118 tonne triple roadtrain.
The third is the northern most entrance to Newman. Here there is plenty of visibility in both directions so they can’t complain about not seeing something 4.3m high, 2.2m wide and 53.5m long coming at them. Regardless of this they just don’t seem to care, and once one pulls out two or three more will follow. Safety in numbers? I’m not sure. Stand on the brakes again, white knuckle grip on the steering wheel and a quick glance at the dashcam-if I run over and kill these idiots I want proof they were responsible for their own deaths. Then, to add an insult to the whole thing, they only travel 400m up the road before turning off the highway into a BHP site just opposite the sewage ponds. Really, it was that bloody important that you get in front of me, when the road behind me was completely traffic free, just so you can save 20 seconds on your way to work?! What is wrong with these people.
The fourth one has only really been a problem for me when I’ve been travelling south towards Newman. It’s at the Hope Downs 4 access road and the problem is so bad that the mine has actually positioned trailer mounted illuminated billboards on the side of the road north and south of the intersection warning traffic on the highway to look out for their less than intelligent workers not giving way or looking at all. There’s some real dipshits here.
I don’t know why these people feel the need to endanger their lives and put me in a position I really don’t want to be in. I mean, I don’t want someone’s death on my hands regardless of who’s fault it is-I’ve seen that shit really mess people up. Is it because they’re here for a good time not a long time as FIFO workers? Do they drive the same way when they are at home with wives/girlfriends/kids in the car instead of workmates? Do they drive their own car the same way or are they just thrashing the company vehicle because, hey, they don’t have to pay for it? Or are they just city people that come out to the bush to work and really have no concept of how dangerous their actions are and how much I’d really, really like to just run the dumb prick over to teach them a lesson?
The mining companies need to be aware of the havoc some of their employees create when they are let loose on public roads and the police need to monitor these problem spots and actually do something about these reckless drivers before they get the call to a fatality, not after. I hardly ever see the police patrolling along that section of Gt Northern Hwy and I’ve been a regular through here for years.
Oh, and do something about all these mine vehicles leaving their orange beacon on while travelling on public roads-orange flashing beacons are supposed to be a warning to other road users of a hazard, roadworks or an oversize load. More than half of the active orange beacons on public roads in the Pilbara region are firmly attached to mine vehicles driven by oblivious mine workers.
Oops, I got here too late. I’ll have to stay the night. Shame.
Well, in a nutshell, that’s what happened but it’s not the complete story. I am staying the night at the Spinifex Camp at Yandicoogina in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It’s about 1300-1400km north of Perth and earlier today I spent a few hours unloading the food and supplies needed to keep the place running for another week.
“It all began…” as all good stories do with a dramatic and traumatic event. The driver that started out this run from Perth received a bad news phone call about 600km into the run – a family medical emergency on the other side of the country. Well, no-one can blame him for wanting to be there instead of here (I haven’t heard how things are going over there yet, fingers crossed) so he dropped the three trailers of food and supplies in Mount Magnet and headed back to Perth and a plane ride east.
I was just leaving Newman for Perth after unloading my three trailers and was six hours away from Mount Magnet when this all happened so it was decided I would pick up the three loaded trailers, leaving my three empty trailers, and head back north and complete the run. Of course, the delivery schedule was out the window with the extra distance I had to travel so all necessary phone calls were made to customers (did I mention there was four deliveries instead of the normal two for the run?). Murphy had to put in his two cents worth so I was a further two hours later than anticipated but I at least got the Spinifex delivery done which was the biggest freight drop of the four deliveries and the most time consuming with one full trailer of backloading to take back to Perth. In fact, there was two trailers worth of backloading but because the freight from the extra two drops was taking up the remaining trailer space it was decided that recycled glass and cardboard probably wasn’t as important as the food and ALCOHOL the other camps were waiting on. Common sense prevails, drinkers of the Pilbara rejoice!
You know one of the great things about delivering the food and alcohol to these camps miles from any town, city or coastline? It’s that when it comes down to it the people out here really do appreciate the service you provide them and are more than happy to put you up with a room,a hot shower and a feed. Most of the time I’m happy to arrive on site, unload and ask for nothing more than a signature on a manifest (ok, I do like to grumble about things when the forklift driver doesn’t know his ‘fork tilt lever’ from his ‘fork up/down lever’ and when…). Anyway, I don’t take advantage of their generosity and when days like today come along I appreciate the little things like the shower, the bed and the meal.
Tomorrow I leave here around 6am and head for the next two drops which are only about 15km apart and an hours drive from here. Then a little bit of a trailer shuffle to make sure I’m not dragging the still loaded and heaviest trailer as my third and head 115km south to Newman and unload the remaining freight around lunchtime-ish. That should be pretty straightforward (mind you, this is the Pilbara) and then another trailer shuffle to make my second trailer my first trailer, my third trailer my second trailer and my first trailer my third trailer. Got it? It’s all about setting up the roadtrain to get the best ride out of all the trailers – it’s a 12 hour journey back to Perth from Newman and the trailers ARE supposed to follow in the wheel track of the prime mover in front. It makes for a less stressful day, believe me!
Now who was the smart ass that said truck drivers just sit around all day?
Submission as follows :
Potholes appearing on Gt Northern Hwy around SLK142, also at Bindi Bindi T intersection Gt Northern Hwy (unsure of SLK). My main concern is the lack of room at the Wubin roadtrain assembly area. I use the assembly area 2 to 4 times a week and am frequently frustrated by the lack of room despite the last upgrade.This is also a major problem at the Newman roadtrain assembly area-I have been unable to access this area on my last three trips to Newman and have utilised the Turf Club parking area as well as the first parking bay north of the Newman townsite (on the Gt Northern Hwy) for the purpose of splitting triple roadtrain trailers for the delivery of freight to the Newman townsite. I am aware that plans are in motion for upgrading the Newman roadtrain assembly area but are there plans to further extend the Wubin roadtrain assembly area? As I see it roadtrain traffic on the Gt Northern Hwy stands to increase by a significant amount before anyone could reasonably expect it to plateau and eventually decrease sometime in the far distant future when the iron ore mining boom finally loses it’s momentum. Until that time the road infrastructure must keep pace. That also includes the many inadequate parking areas dotted up and down the Gt Northern Hwy-inadequate because quite often only two or three trucks can fit in each of them. In fact, some of the parking areas are so restricted that if three trucks fit into them then they must leave in the precise order they arrived in – there is simply no room to get around the truck in front. Hopefully the first truck “in” doesn’t expect a sleep-in. This is an age when more and more responsibility is being forced upon the driver and as a driver I am being forced further and further into a corner. To get out of this corner I need the freedom to stop in a parking bay that has room for my truck when I need it, I need to have spacious roadtrain assembly areas (with night lighting-pretty please) to assemble and disassemble triple roadtrains, and I need to know that “those-who-must-be-obeyed” have some concept of the hurdles we face. Until then, catch phrases like “fatigue management” and “safe work practices” are just…well, they’re just bullshit.
Well, I hope that gives some context to my more recent tweets. If you want to follow me on Twitter there is a “Follow” link on the sidebar.
I recently changed employers. I put it that way because it sounds better than saying “I chucked in my job”.
My main motivation for “changing employers” was money, money, money! I have to say I was quite happy at my last job. I liked the boss, I liked the work and while the pay rate wasn’t fantastic it was in line with other drivers doing the same job for other companies.
The new job is a Fly In/Fly Out (FIFO) driving position for a crane hire company. Still driving roadtrains but carting all of the crane associated equipment such as counter wieghts and lifting gear. It’s a real change of pace, believe me!
At first I couldn’t adjust to the change of pace. Twenty years of working for frieght orientated companies is hard to override when I start working for a crane company and the trucks are a minor part of the operation – not the focus.
Hanging around the yard for 10hrs straight isn’t much fun. Even after the truck has been washed, polished, Armorall’d, greased, etc, etc. (How much can you do to keep busy?)
The upside is the pay for sitting/waiting. A lot of jobs come in with short notice. To mobilise a crane takes a support crew and to recall the crew from off-duty usually presents problems. If they want to pay me to sit around playing with my…um, yeah – just waiting, I’m cool with that. I just have to develop strategies to deal with doing bugger all, to keep me sane.
On a slightly different note : my last flight back from Newman. I really feel sorry for the young bloke sitting next to me on the Quantas Boeing 717 last trip. The poor fella started getting a bit flustered even before we began to taxi onto the strip. I wasn’t wearing my Sunday best but I didn’t fancy getting puked on, let alone having to travel the whole way home smelling of someone else’s puke. Luckily he he did the right thing and kept it to himself.
At the moment I am enjoying a week of R & R. Catching up with family and friends, getting a good supply of books to take back out with me. I lashed out and bought a iPod Touch and I’m loving it! My 4yr old 30Gb iPod classic is starting to fail (it’s had a hard life) and I’m stocking the Touch up with plenty of content before I fly back out to work.
Got to go and fire up the BBQ now so I’ll catch you later.