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Students from seven schools in the Central Queensland region took the wheel during an intensive trade-based camp recently, working alongside mining tradespeople to design, build and wire a replica site vehicle.

The six-day ‘Oresome Trades’ camp, held from 27 March to 1 April, was the first to be held since 2020’s COVID outbreak and was facilitated by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) and supported by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA). The group of 20 students in Year 11 and 12 were selected from Blackwater, Dysart, Mackay, Mackay Northern Beaches, Moranbah, Pioneer and Sarina State High Schools.

The ‘Blue Shed’ trade training facility at Moranbah State High School was a hive of activity over the six days, as keen young participants worked in small groups guided by BHP and BMA apprentices and tradespeople. The project involved designing, constructing and appraising replica site vehicles, as well as wiring them with functioning head lights, stop lights, indicators and a flashing emergency light. A research component was also included in the camp to complement its practical activities.

Participants spent each night at the Civeo Camp at Moranbah, giving them an authentic experience of mining accommodation. They also observed a real mine site in action, visiting and touring BMA’s Saraji mine as part of the camp itinerary.

“The ‘Oresome Trades’ camp is an immersive experience that gives a focused group of young people a unique window onto the world of mining,” explained QMEA’s Manager of Skills and Education, Matthew Heskett. He said that the large volume of applicants for the camp reflects that Central Queensland high school students are genuinely enthusiastic about trade-based work in the resources sector. “The outstanding students who attended this camp were chosen based not only on their school results but also on evidence of their drive and commitment to their future goals.”

Dan Iliffe, General Manager BMA Saraji Mine, said that the students gained invaluable industry insights during the camp. “It is a privilege for our staff to be involved in mentoring the next generation. Our work with these students was designed to mirror daily life on a mine site, giving them a genuine insight into mining work, and the chance to network with professionals as well as students from other schools who may one day be their colleagues.”

As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and skills training initiative, the QMEA seeks to broaden student and teacher knowledge of career opportunities in resources. The academy encourages a talent pipeline of employees into VET and STEM-related careers, with a focus on female and Indigenous participation. The QMEA currently engages with 90 schools and is a partnership with the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.

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