Mohair, Merino & Miners

I would welcome you all to Wednesday except I’m not entirely positive I want to be awake yet.

Unusual for me I know – but I did stay up to watch the Liberals versus the Labour Party again last night and the alarm went off waaaaay too soon.

The reason I stayed up to watch was the sudden fascination that the parties seem to have with Mining Industry.

 Kevin Rudd seems to believe that it’s a boom period and needs to be managed (by the gang of Ex-Union Officials) or it will all vanish. The Howard government has pledged millions to upgrading the roads in the Northern Territory, especially in the Tanami (pronounced Tan Ah My) Desert where mining is growing on a daily basis, even faster than the rest of the Top End. Certainly, the Arnhem Highway that leads out here to Toothbrush Three and Ranger Mine is developing a number of new turn offs leading to Boral Quarry, Mt Bundy Mining and the recently reopened Tom’s Gully Gold Mine.

 Tom’s Gully is an interesting site. Locals list the number of companies who have gone broke trying to mine there. It’s apparently a very rich area ( avg 3gms per tonne – compare this to Super Pit at 2gms per tonne) but it’s prone to flooding and water in an underground Gold Mine is BAD.

Capital B, dot, Capital A, dot, Capital D, dot .. dot dot dot.

water should not be in pits

This is a view of one of our open cut pits at Toothbrush Two and how much water can bubble up overnight.

I think it’s a spectacular cure for drought: Gold mining.

 It’s not just gold and uranium that’s taking off. Nickel and Iron in the Pilbara region, Diamonds at Argyle, Bauxite at Gove and more Gold at Katherine, Mt Vista, MacArthur River and Butu.

What the real issue is… and this was underlined when I had a shower this morning (bet you’re wondering how that all links together) is the demand for people out here in the bush to do the actual physical mining part. 

dump truck being loaded 

The Truck is being loaded with material (you’d call it rocks) that has been crushed and sorted to get 250-280mm sized rocks. This goes into the Dam walls.

To train a driver takes about 6 weeks. To consolidate all their techniques: maybe three months.

Then we have them operating the different types of trucks : CAT Dump Trucks of all sizes, Articulated Volvos and the Water Trucks. dump trucks waiting on the sky line(Cool shot huh?)

And then, because my company likes to develop people, we start them on the Grader

the grader

And then the Dozer (when it has had the engine changed) 

The dozer having engine changed

And ultimately the excavators: like the one loading the Volvo.But … It’s getting the people in the first place.

The idea of driving a dump truck sounds a bit: monotonous. Even degrading. People want to be able to say that they have a respectable, enviable job. Earning $80,000 for driving a dump truck… I’ll let you decide.

Would you believe there are times we just can’t get the people?

It’s a good deal. You work for two weeks, you get a week off. Your meals and accommodation are provided for those two weeks.

Yes, it’s in the Northern Territory, where sometimes we run out of Cheese, but $80,000 and all you need is a Heavy Vehicle licence and a pair of Safety Boots is not bad! If you’ve proven yourself and you’re operating more than one piece of equipment:  $90K+. 

Say you’re a gap year student with no heavy vehicle training at all: $65K as a Pit tech marking out which pit of dirt to dig into next. Not a bad way to earn a bit of money to go to Uni on.

80K is about 2,100 cash in hand a fortnight.  Room and meals provided for two weeks of three. A Serviced apartment in Darwin would cost about $300 to stay for the week off or a return trip to a southern city – flying Tiger Airlines not QANTAS or VIRGIN; costs $685. There’s still about $1200 you can save a fortnight. Multiplied by 26 pays: $30, 000+  =  money you could pack away if you were careful.

How this was linked to my shower is: this morning in the shower cubicle (which isn’t locked during the day)

 I noticed there was advertisements for a Labour Hire Company pinned up. And business cards tucked into the Door jamb. A quick check proved that this was not a one off case.

Companies are trying to poach our people! In the showers!!

Also, mention Unions up here and it’s worse than my reaction when someone uses That word around me (There’s no excuse for that word).  I understand that unions are sometimes a necessary evil and the British Miners Strikes happened to improve conditions that were left over from the Victorian times but unions and the “managed future” Mr Rudd is talking about would not benefit the Australian Mining Industry.

What would benefit the Mining Industry?

Encouraging people to see Mining as not a “dirty” job, that being involved, literally, at the coal face is a better thing than scratching at a job in the city and living on welfare payments. It’s not hard intellectual work, for those people who saw school as a waste of time and who made fun of me for enjoying it… this is not a bad place to be. God, even for those who struggled at university because they were told that they “had to” go to University to be a “good” person, this is not a bad place to be. The world is always going to want Iron, Gold, Nickel and diamonds… I’m not worried about that, it’s what the parties will do to benefit the rest of the country.

Other Issues that the Politicians should focus on:  the Australian Dollar has been going on safari lately. The peak of 94c against the Greenback for the first time in decades and then the use of highly charged words “slides” “tumbles” that the media throws around when it drops back to 87c. Stabilising the Dollar (ever notice how LITTLE the yen moves?) would be good for Australia.

What else: Interest rates. Ok – under the Labour government interest rates were high – I can remember them being around the 17% mark and I was only about 10 then. The Labour party screeching about a ¼% rate rise (says me who doesn’t have a mortgage yet) strikes me as being somewhat dubious ‘Pot black, Love Kettle” sort of thing.

Price of Oil. There’s not much Australia can do to reduce the price of oil, but we can and should be reducing our dependency on oil and hydrocarbon fuels. The benefits of this are enormous not just because money stops going out of the country and the individual family units get to spend less on fuel but also the good ol’ environment gets a break. I’m not the biggest tree hugger in the world BUT I do cringe about the Carbon emissions from our Dump Trucks. The Company operates 16 CATs, 3 Volvos, plus all the rest of heavy equipment. A CAT Dump truck gives off 4 tonnes of Carbon emissions a year. That’s a LOT. But each Dump Truck shifts 1,000 Base Cubic Metres of Gold Ore (ok.. the ones at TB 2 do, the ones here are building the Dam just move dirt) and Australia needs the Gold. Goldgoldgoldgold

What do we need to do to offset that? Solar Power, Wind Power (and if the Grand Plan comes to fruition, you better believe I’m going to have solar and wind power as well as vurms and Cluckclucks for the eggses, Precious) it’s time to be serious about the hybridised cars like the Prius (Shades of West Wing there too) so if the Liberals wanted my vote that would be a big part of it.

Also – for the Labour Party, speaking with my Defence Hat on.

Read my lips: 


We learn more there. We are doing our jobs there. We get paid more there. For my stints in the Gulf, Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, doing the same job I was doing up and down the East Coast of Australia, I got paid far more. Yes, we run the risk of getting dead but you can get killed walking across the road or driving a car. In the Gulf we were making sure that at least some of the money was going back to the people and not to the Dictators hands. Retraining the Iraqis – that’s a good job.

Yes, there will come a time we should pull out. Not yet. Wait til the Gulf is stable (ok.. maybe never and we’ll make jokes about Vietnam II) but  People joined the Defence Forces to do a job that was out of the ordinary.  They leave the Defence Forces because the bureaucracy has got it so completely screwed up.

  Yes – Defence Housing Authority, I mean: You. (And if you work for DHA, have a look at the feedback from my last move when DHA left over half my inventory in Sydney and I had to wait an extra four weeks for it – I’m allowed to point fingers!)


Ok – Political Tirade over.

Though there may be more as we get closer to the Election.

This morning started off looking like this:  

storm clouds boding illWhich boded rain.. Bodes Bodes Bodes

 .And like all those times I asked Santa for a pony… didn’t eventuate. (Yes.. M_F – I know I got Nero last year but I had to wait until I was 33 for a pony for Christmas!!)

This is good because it really does turn the Clay into a slide worthy of Disney Land. And now the sun is out and I’m hopeful we’ll get through another day relatively dent free. This is Day 155 of the Project and we are still Injury Free.

However..The Gods have taken their revenge on my cockiness. 

 Last night I discovered that I had once more forgotten an integral part of the crocheting.

I have the Purple Bag.I have the Gown in its own little Ziploc bag. I have the Purple Mohair for the Squares. I have the Filet Thread. I have a couple of balls of yarn in the bottom of the Purple bag for no other reason than they like the drive, it seems.

Guess what I don’t got?


I don’t have the hook case.

Oh no.

Yellow. Plastic. Pencil Case made into travelling hook case.

There were tears.

There was wailing and gnashing of teeth. Very clean and 100% approved teeth, but they got gnashed.


I sat on my bed.

And then my eyes fell on a bag that doesn’t always make the trip. 

My black and red Chinese bag (Shown here with Blue Bag and Purple Zhivago Bag). bags on the bed

Which was tucked on the corner of the desk.

This is my usual Crochet tote for around town.

I have a bunch more to list on eBay at some point.

Do I dare hope?

I jiggle the bag.

I can hear a faint metallic clinking.

My heart beats….Yes!!!!

There’s a 1mm Hook hiding in the bottom.

I refrain from kissing it.

With apologies to the Mohair that will be ignored for the rest of the week…

I took up the Gown and did some work. Crocheting the Gown

Until I reached a critical point we will now call “The Merino Effect” (remembering our Peach Merino Baby Afghan and the number of balls that took).

 Gown out of Yarn

I finished the ball! That’s 1000m of Laceweight done.

Before I start up the other ball I’m seriously considering finishing the back

 The Gown - back view

 – though I think I need some hat elastic to work into one side to form the button loops.

 So the Mohair has returned to the Bag for the week, Merino is the order of the day and the Miners – well…

If the Politicians could fix everything else – you know, like schools.. hospitals.. we’d be happy.

Love and hugs to you all!!


~ by SB&C on November 14, 2007.

10 Responses to “Mohair, Merino & Miners”

  1. Manda the dress is out of this world beautiful!! you have a lot done..

    what pattern are you using?

    Hello to Mother Figure xo

  2. From the other side of the world, some of the fine points of politics eludes me — but that’s probably true of my local politics too!
    I mostly hopped on to say that you had some wonderful photos today, and I am so glad you found a hook; it would be torture to have projects and nothing to do them with. TORTURE! (Okay, now everyone knows how to really get me. Take away my needles….)

  3. Hi – you may noticed I’ve changed the layout – any thoughts?

    Barb!!! Its so good to see you again! the pattern is a highly modified Leisure Arts Vol 1 christening Gown.

    And hi Cathy_cate! Glad to hear you liked the photos!!
    And fo rthe fans of sunrises: Check out Cathy_Cate’s!!

  4. […] Kendra James, RN wrote an interesting post today on […]

  5. well i had to do a double take when the page first loaded. i have your blog bookmarked and at first thought it was shut down or something. UGGGGG NOOOOOO!

    looks good!

    glad you have one hook to work with! thats a good thing.


  6. I love the new look! The lighter color makes it easier to read too. The Christening gown is turning out soooooo beautiful. Wish I would hurry up my stuff so I could get going on mine again!

    I am here, sorry I haven’t said much but I have been crocheting up a storm. The older girl of the two cuties I make stuff for has been trying to wear baby sister’s mittens so I just HAD to make her a winter set.

    And I was afraid if I didn’t get going that my friend due in Feb wouldn’t get a layette. lol

    Sounds like you are doing a bit better and as usual you have great pics.

  7. I am going to have to be the odd one out here and say I prefer the old colours..I think the darker colours showcased your photos beautifully..

    I’ll still be your friend though, ;0)) xo

  8. […] here for full story Author Myles Peck Comments […]

  9. Adore your blog. Am a girl in mining too. At my work am being asked to train new dumpie drivers in 3 days. Am disgusted. Will be following your blog with interest. Keep the photos coming.

  10. Well, it is ok. Do you have more photos of your equipments.. i have visited the site it sells a lot of used machineries and heavy equipment. Iam still searching on the internet who sells machineries with the Caterpillar brand.

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