From the ground up: Jacob’s journey through the ranks
We sat down with Jacob Pleavin on his ‘pyjama day’, as it’s known by Batchfire employees on our Lifestyle Roster, to chat about his 19-year journey through the mining ranks.
Jacob is now Supervisor – Truck and Shovel at Batchfire’s Callide Mine, as well as being a member of our Emergency Response Team, which keeps him very busy!
How long have you been at Batchfire Resources and how did it all start for you? We hear you’ve spent quite a bit of time at the Callide Mine…
I’ve been with Batchfire since they took over the mine in 2016, but I’ve been in the industry since I was 18 and I’m now 37 – so 19 years all up!
The first mine I set foot in was actually Callide. I was a cleanskin straight out of high school and didn’t have aspirations to go to university. I had actually set my sights on the army, but the opportunity at Callide came up so I put my hand up.
First, I started driving trucks, then water tankers, then dozers. When I learnt the dozer skills I started spending more time around excavators and developed a great passion for the big diggers.
Once the opportunity came to learn how to operate diggers, I fell in love with the big boys. The biggest we have on-site is the 700-tonne Komatsu PC7000, so that became my pride and joy once I got into it.
Being a digger operator, I really loved the challenge of being the supervisor of the circuit so to speak. The other crew really rely on the digger operators to look after that circuit, so if you need more trucks you call for them and so on – it’s about taking ownership.
How did you move from the cabin of an excavator to now being a supervisor?
Becoming a supervisor, which is my current role now, was a natural progression for me from being a digger operator. I know my content after being in a pit for so long, I know what’s expected and how it should all run.
I did a step-up role, as a fill-in supervisor for about 18 months, and I was then made a permanent supervisor in November last year.
I felt like I took to it quickly, because I had a really great mentors that trained me up as a supervisor as well as having the backing of my superintendent. Olly de Git and Jim Bulten were mentors of mine that I’m really thankful for.
It’s definitely been a challenge, because you see a lot more behind closed doors around planning than you see out in the paddock. The biggest challenge for me has been being firm, but compassionate, because it’s all about people management.
How has Batchfire helped to progress you through the ranks, from trucks to excavators and now onto being a supervisor?
Batchfire fully supported me with all the training that was required to obtain the certification. I needed various certificates and I was able to do it all on work time, to sit that training.
They also put all of the supervisors through a leadership program that really helped me learn how to manage people and get the best out of them.
Does your background as an operator help in your current role, given you’ve been behind the controls of so many machines?
I know my content; you get me out in the pit and I can talk dirt and I can talk coal. I know how these machines work like the back of my hand so I do feel like that gives me an advantage.
Plus it’s very rare you’ll catch us in the office for any length of time, so we still spend plenty of time out in the pit!
Do you think a career in mining is a good option for school-leavers, those looking at changing careers and everyone in between?
For sure, for sure! A career in the resources sector is an awesome career for anyone.
If you put your mind to it, keep your feet planted on the ground and you stay humble within yourself and learn the content, the opportunities are quite endless.
I think anyone should be considering a career in resources, it doesn’t matter what sex or ethnicity, it’s for everyone. I have been around great operators and fitters that are women and it’s really good to see the diversity these days.
It’s for everyone!
A perk of working at Batchfire is being able to go home each night to your family, so how do you find life in Biloela?
I’ve always had the motto that ‘it is what you make it’, and Bilo is a great little community.
The schools are great, it’s got great sporting facilities, the coast is only a bit over an hour away, and it’s really central to everything.
I’m married and I’ve got three children, so I find the Lifestyle Roster really great too.
I’ve got those couple of days where I’m at work, then we have that pyjama day, which is what we call the changeover day, I can spend time with my kids and wife; helping around the house and stuff.
Batchfire offers a really good work-life balance.
It seems the sky is the limit for you Jacob, so what does the future hold for your career in mining?
I want to get some more experience under my belt as a supervisor, and I do want to aim at attaining an Open Cut Examiner (OCE) ticket.
This place is a great place to work, and the opportunities really are endless, so I’m not sitting still!