People and culture
Each year Fosterville Gold Mine (FGM) invites engineering students from various universities across Victoria to apply for a handful of vacation positions at the mine. The purpose of the program is to give students studying in relevant fields, the opportunity to put their learning into practice and get a taste of what working in the mining industry is all about.
This year Bendigo local, Mitchell Cheesman was one of the successful recruits who jumped at the chance to learn more about mining and enjoy some time back with his family, after having relocated to Melbourne for the duration of his studies.
Mitchell, who grew up in Strathfieldsaye and attended Catherine McCauley College, is entering his fifth year of study at RMIT, completing a double degree in Chemical Engineering and Business Management.
“When I saw the advertisement come through from the RMIT Careers team, I didn’t hesitate to apply, as I have been curious about this mine near my hometown ever since beginning my studies,” explained Mitchell.
When asked about how he went about deciding on Chemical Engineering as a career path, Mitchell admits it was a bit of a gamble: “It is really scary having to pick a career path when you are just 18, but I did some research and decided that the Chemical Engineering degree offered the kind of subjects that I enjoyed, so I just went for it”.
The FGM HR team received over 150 applications and were impressed by Mitchell’s application. He was thrilled to get through the interview process with flying colours and be invited to participate in the program, along with eight other students from different disciplines, including: mine surveying, process engineering, mining engineering, mine business Improvements engineering and geology.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the whole experience has really helped me to feel confident that I have chosen the right career path,” says Mitchell.
“From the moment I arrived on site, I have been learning heaps. The induction was really thorough and introduced everyone to the different aspects of mining including processing, safety and environmental planning … but in addition to that, subjects experts including the metallurgist have been so generous with their time and willingness to share their knowledge.”
Mitchell’s main assignment during his time at FGM has been assisting on the BIOX Circuit, which is a rare opportunity. FGM’s modern sulphide treatment plant, which uses bacteria to recover more gold from the ore, is recognised as one of the world’s leading BIOX systems, having achieved record recoveries.
“Learning all about the BIOX system has been fascinating, but I have also really enjoyed finding out more about how FGM is mitigating their impact on the environment as well as constantly looking for ways to improve operations and reduce carbon emissions.”
“As a young person, I am concerned about the environment and don’t want to be a part of an industry that isn’t doing their part to look after the planet. However, now that I have spent time at Fosterville, I can see that there are huge efforts being made to not only reduce, but improve environmental outcomes,” Mitchell concluded.
Mitchell returned to Melbourne at the end of February 2022 to complete his final year of study and is looking forward to beginning his full time career in 2023 … potentially at Fosterville if the opportunity presents itself.