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Jacinta Riedel carves out a career in mining

 August 28, 2014

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Jacinta Riedel has always been drawn to different landscapes, geology and the search for minerals. Now she’s turning her interests into a career in our Iron Ore business.

Jacinta started at Rio Tinto as a graduate, and she is continuing to develop her skills as a mine geologist working at our Pilbara operations in remote Western Australia.

Keen to attract other graduates to Rio Tinto and the industry, Jacinta shares her thoughts on the value and diversity that new professionals can bring to our organisation and the resources industry.

Q. What's your role at Rio Tinto?

I am currently a mine geologist at the Brockman 2, Nammuldi and Silvergrass iron ore mines in the Pilbara. I’m part of the team that turns orebody knowledge into value at the mines that feed iron ore into our Pilbara Blend product. We do that through our understanding of ore grades, production levels and mineral processing.

Q. What do you do on a typical day?

Our day kicks off with the team pre-start meeting. This is followed by tasks such as pit sampling and material logging in the morning then data validation, interpretation and project work.

No two days are the same. As the orebodies change with depth, we’re often investigating ore feed issues with our internal stakeholders – mainly blast engineers, mine planners, grade controllers, plant metallurgists and dig operators.

Q. What do you enjoy about your role?

As geologists we’re able to assess the characteristics of the orebody to convert our knowledge into information that helps support decisions and reduce risk.

I enjoy being a part of a team and community of geoscientists that has a direct impact on revenue and safety.

I also enjoy applying innovative technology that’s been developed by Rio Tinto. For instance, we interpret drill data with orebody knowledge using 3D RTVis software which provides pinpoint accurate mapping . It’s a pretty impressive and powerful tool.

I really enjoy the variety of working both inside and outside the office. The Pilbara is a beautiful place – you can’t beat the sunsets in outback Australia!

Q. Why did you choose to work in the mining industry?

I have always been drawn to landscapes and geology, in particular the search for minerals, how they are mined and what they are used for. I like the mining industry because it’s different; I enjoy the opportunity to work in remote locations.

I studied a Bachelor of Science in Mineral Exploration and Mining Geology at Curtin University, Western Australia and finished my degree at the Western Australian School of Mines in Kalgoorlie. This gave me an invaluable opportunity for vacation work which helped to cement my career choice in mining. The fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) roster work is great for young professionals and offers challenges you would not face in a traditional workplace. It is a supportive community and you develop a close network which you find wherever you go in mining.

Q. How did you get your start in the mining industry?

I was offered a vacation student role in 2010 with a lithium mining company working drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) 600km southeast of Perth. I really enjoyed the experience and knew I had made the right decision to become a geologist.

Q. What has been your career progression until now?

I started out as a vacation student and contracting geologist in a variety of commodities while I was at university. In 2012, I began the Rio Tinto Iron Ore graduate programme with the Resource Evaluation team, working in the field as a rig geologist at the Koodaideri and West Angelas deposits. In 2015, I transferred to the Technical Services Mine Geology team at Greater Brockman.

Q. What are some of the challenges facing new professionals in the mining industry? And how can these be overcome?

The main challenges in our industry currently include greater competition for roles, insecurity during tough economic times, and commodity volatility in a “more with less” environment. This can elevate stress and anxiety among new professionals. To manage these constant changes, invest time in expanding your core skills, grow your network and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

As new professionals we need to recognise and promote the fact that we can bring a more diverse perspective to some of the challenges our industry is facing. It’s up to us to seek out those opportunities and effectively communicate solutions which drive productivity.

Q. Where do you see your career heading?

With the industry constantly changing, I hope to expand my skillset to suit more areas of the business, and develop a greater understanding of other roles.

Jacinta's top tips for new professionals

- Be prepared for change as it is a challenging, exciting and cyclic industry - Be a role model for others - Take the initiative to develop your career - Find a good mentor to act as a sounding board for ideas and guidance - Always strive to do your best in everything you do. Be inclusive, work with your colleagues and lead (where you can) to make a difference - Consider volunteering in an industry-focused organisation or committee - Gain work experience in a broad range of business areas and commodities - Invest time in your professional development as it is important to stand out - Maintain professional integrity: know the values of the company you work for and have the courage to speak up if you see others acting outside of those values

Some career hightlights

- Iron Ore’s Jacinta Riedel shares her experiences as a new professional in the mining industry
- Jacinta started at Rio Tinto as a graduate, and now works as a mine geologist in the Pilbara
- she received the 2016 AusIMM “New Professional” award
- Jacinta’s work in her chosen field was recognised in 2016 by the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

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