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Our Stories 12 July 2021

Humans of Bis - Tomago's female Apprentice Plant Mechanics

Humans of Bis - Tomago's female Apprentice Plant Mechanics

Located just out of Newcastle, NSW, Tomago is the home of Bis' Underground Services business which includes operational, customer and support functions. In the main underground equipment workshop, Bis’ plant mechanics service, repair and maintain a fleet of large-scale mobile mining machinery, including Load Haul Dump (LHD) machines, graders, and personnel transporters. Every year they are joined by a new generation of apprentices, including – since 2018 – several female trainees.

Meet Samantha, Chloe, and Georgia – Tomago’s three female Apprentice Plant Mechanics. Here, the women reflect on what drove them to embark on a 4-year apprenticeship to obtain their Plant Mechanics - AUR31216 - Certificate III in Mobile Plant Technology. They also have some advice for other women curious about working in the mining or Heavy Earth Moving industry.

Samantha Cole - Learning to think creatively to fix complex issues

Samantha had always had a passion for cars. With a background in personal training and retail, she was ready for a new challenge.

The Plant Mechanic Apprenticeship was the perfect opportunity to deepen her knowledge of machinery, apply creative thinking to solve complex issues and pick up qualifications such as a forklift license along the way. Reflecting on her journey, Samantha is decidedly confident:

"I'm proud of the change I can see in myself compared to my 1st year and now being a 4th-year apprentice. I'm a lot more comfortable and I understand things easier now."


Chloe Johnson - Changing careers to follow a passion

Growing up, Chloe had always enjoyed off-road driving and building 4WDs. After working in nursing for six years, Chloe was ready to pursue a career that aligned more with her enthusiasm for cars.

Most of the men in her extended family work in mining, so Chloe already had some insight into the industry. She decided to make the move when she found out Bis was promoting apprenticeships for female Plant Mechanics. 

Her bravery paid off. At Tomago, Chloe repairs and services assets, and operates forklifts and cranes - deepening her mechanical and hydraulic knowledge while learning how underground mining operations work.

"I'm proud that I actually gave it a go despite being scared. I just love gaining the knowledge and experience that comes with it."

As for any difficulties she encountered, Chloe says that "strength has been a big challenge." But she could always count on her colleagues to help: "Working with all the guys has been great. I built many friendships and they're always happy to teach you."

Now a mother-to-be, Chloe has temporarily transitioned into a workshop operational support role. She will be able to complete her apprenticeship once she is ready to return from maternity leave.


Georgia Eyb - from work placement to apprentice

Georgia got her first insight into the mining industry during a work placement with Bis. With a long-held interest in cars, it was the work with heavy machinery she had enjoyed most.

For Georgia, the Plant Mechanic Apprenticeship was a great pathway to learn “how components work and use that knowledge to diagnose and fix issues." Halfway through her four-year apprenticeship, Georgia is happy with her progress.

"I'm proud of how much my knowledge has expanded in the last two years. I'm a lot more comfortable and understand things more. The tradesmen are great."


Advice for other women: Just go for it

As for other women looking to join the industry, the three women are unequivocally supportive:

  • Georgia: "If you want to head down the mechanic path, I say do it! It's a great experience and it really opens your eyes to the real world."
  • Chloe: "Apply for the apprenticeships and give it a go. You will surprise yourself."
  • Samantha: "Definitely give it a try. It can seem daunting having to complete large tasks alone but it's satisfying doing something that prior to learning you would never have thought possible."