Volvos. Sometimes They’re A Necessary Evil.



Everything in life is a Risk.

Except maybe being in bed – which is where I would SOOOOOO like to be back now.


Though then we’d have to deal with the issues of .. well. Bed sores, overly possessive cats.. cars losing control and swerving off the road and through your bedroom wall.

As a Safety Officer…. the Identification and minimisation of Risk is my bread, butter, occaisional Quarterpounder and Way too much yarn. I enjoy looking at problems and working out ways to fix them.

 What I don’t get.. is how SODDING STUPID some people are.. those who don’t have the native intelligence of a pistachio nut and despite every best-intentioned and well-researched Hazard Control Measure we can come up with, they still try to kill themselves.

  The evil side of me is all for it.. go ahead – drive through the Cones that mark the laneway we want you to use, cross over onto the wrong side of the road, play dodgems in a 100Series Landcruiser – with your opponents driving CAT 773B Dump Trucks. Just don’t expect me to follow through on the “Donations in lieu of flowers “ bit on your obituary notice! 

If, you are that dull-witted, you obviously shouldn’t be allowed to breed and your choice to drive in the manner that you did, is a wonderful display of self-acceptance of such dull-wittedness and therefore was your way of committing Death by Dump Truck.

  Maybe the old adage is true – make something idiot-proof, you just get smarter idiots.

  Anyway – we still have the Dump Truck, the Landcruiser and… the dull-witted inDUHvidual so everything is ok…

Its Friday.  The sunrise looked like This :

Sunrise over the Tailings Dam

And I get to go home today!!!!

Everything is packed and the car is stashed in the Mine front car park for the quick getaway!!!

While waiting in the carpark for my ride out to the site – i finished something!!!

 A Sleeve!

Yes!!! The Left Sleeve of the Gown is FINISHED!!!

This is a hugely important milestone for me! It actually shows what the pattern looks like – made up!! 

As a literary reference, I have the urge  to do the Scene from The Taming of the Shrewwhere Petruchio tears up Catherine’s gown.

“Whats This? A sleeve? Tis like a Demi-cannon!”

I also found out how you can make an entire off-going mining shift think you are insane – take photos of something in the front of your car – in the dark. 


Anyway – since I’m still feeling like a Safety Officer this morning, I’ll tell you about the hot issue of the week.  

 Windrows. They stop you swimming.

This is the edge of the dam we are building. The “hump’ you can see on the left of the picture is what is known as a “windrow”. Its purpose is to prevent a vehicle from going over the edge of a bench – or  here.. into the Dam.  Windrows are legally required to be half the height of the axle of the largest vehicle operating in the area.  Here at Toothbrush Three world, we operate CAT 773 and CAT 769 Dump Trucks – like this one in action.

 dumping with a Dump Truck 

And so the windrows must be 1m (CAT 773) or as a barest minimum: 70cm (Cat 769s).

The Dam is to hold water used in the refining process, it’s not contaminated but part of the Environmental Management Strategy is that the water is held here to evaporate naturally or be fed into a system of cells where there are wet land plants that are naturally heavy metal tolerant. These plants then send the heavy metals back down into the ground where they came from – so the process is as natural as erosion and run-offs.  Because 2006 and 2007 had heavier than usual rainfalls, we have been tasked with increasing the capacity of the dam. This means dumping earth to widen and then build up the dam walls, and in particular, lay a clay “core” , which is the strong part of the structure.

Its a Beautiful place to work, with the Escarpment above us.

Mount Brockman reflected in our dam

The problem has come in the last two days that the angle of the inner windrow (i.e. that which keeps Dump Trucks out of the lake) is such that we can’t build any higher on top of it.  Every time we deposit more material, it rolls back down, sometimes taking pre-existing rock with it.


 Normally we build up the windrow as we build up the Clay but this time.. it’s a serious stumbling block.

 Additionally we now can’t get back there – as the windrows are too low after our first layer of clay,  a lot of material having rolled back down.

A number of large heads – including mine, have looked at the problem from a number of different directions.

In keeping with best practice, we employed the Hierarchy of Controls to solve this problem.

We couldn’t easily engineer it out– the Dam’s designer was unable to build another 5 metres into the plans. My suggestion of using barges, and loading the clay on to barges at the one end (where the stockpile is), and floating them across, and spreading the clay out with another barge mounted excavator was given (amazingly) serious consideration – the issue being costs involved in getting the barges here – it would work otherwise!

Let’s look back at the photo with the windrow – you can see a small ditch between the windrow and the clay.. usually the windrow would be “pulled” up the slope of the clay but in this case we will dump into that ditch and build the windrow on top. Its an elegant solution, we just needed to find a way of carting the material there…

So, in keeping with the Elimination theme – we looked at the windrows again. We also looked at the trucks… and we found a way around the problem.

    How to fix a problem!

It’s a Volvo.

I learnt to drive in a Volvo. My family has had two Volvos.

 (We had a Volvo, a Golden retriever, horses and the three girls went to Private school….How stereotypical is that?)

 So  I know how much Volvo drivers are hated.

But hey… They get the Job done!


In this case, being a lower dump truck, the Moxy Truck can operate with the current  windrows and  deposit the clay at this layer, which buys us more room to build the windrow up.

The suggestion that we give the drivers Floaties or Water wings as part of Personal Protective Equipment was rejected.

So – we’re ticking along here, we are, as bizarre as it seems, running out of rock. Actually, not so much out of “rock” but out of the right KIND of rock, but that’s for another day.

  I have work to do, miles to go before I sleep.. and … packages waiting for me at Darwin Post Office!

Catch you soon!!!!


~ by SB&C on September 28, 2007.

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