September 16, 2022

The future looks bright: Exploring for copper

Working in Copper

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Is working for a company with the purpose of going beyond what’s possible to make lives better something that interests you? Perhaps you value a clean-energy future, relationships with Traditional Owners, or have a love of the great outdoors?  

These are certainly the things that Dana Leslie cares about. And for this graduate geologist, the future looks bright. We spoke to her about her role as a Graduate Exploration Geologist for OZ Minerals, searching for Australia’s next big modern mineral deposit. 

Working in Copper

“I joined OZ Minerals as a student geologist. After completing my studies, I received the opportunity to move to Western Australia to work on our West Musgrave project. After a wonderful one and a half years, I’ve since returned to the exploration team as a Graduate Exploration Geologist. I’m excited about what the future holds.”

As an Exploration Geologist, Dana is responsible for reviewing data and projects from around the world. 

“When we discover an area of interest, we obtain more data. These areas are usually remote – so my job often entails fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) rosters and working outside in harsh conditions. As a graduate geologist, I’d supervise drill rigs and collect samples of rock. My geological logging would then join the database we use to model the shape of the deposit for mining.” 

For Dana, she believes OZ Minerals is the right place for her because of the shared values between herself and the company. Here are some of the things that have meant the most to her. 

A clean-energy future 

The environmental, social, and economic benefits of clean energy are important to many of us. And it’s true for team members at OZ Minerals

Dana believes her role has an impact through her ability to produce accurate geological models that will contribute towards a clean-energy future. 

“Accurate models allow us to locate and mine the ore, which is processed to make metal. At West Musgrave, we mine copper and nickel – key electrification metals for a clean energy future.” 

As Dana confirms, demand for these critical materials will continue to increase with electrification, particularly for electric cars.

“To achieve a clean-energy future, our goal is to find more modern minerals, and update our current deposits.” 

A value and appreciation for Traditional Owners 

Dana knew she’d made the right decision to work for OZ Minerals when she learned about the company’s respect for Traditional Owners. 

“I really connect with the way OZ Minerals values our Traditional Owners by building relationships and only conducting work on the lands after having their approval. I’ve seen this proved over and over again at West Musgrave. It makes me proud to be a part of the company.”

This appreciation extends to OZ Minerals team members too.  

“I’m inspired by the team I work with, and this is true for every other person I meet in the business! Everyone is so friendly and helpful. I’m grateful to work with such a wonderful group of people.” 

A pathway for development 

In valuing its people, OZ Minerals offers team members pathways for development. 

Dana is proud to have been selected to work on one of the company’s honors projects. 

“This project really set me up for a career with OZ Minerals and the minerals industry. It meant so much to me to receive the chance to prove myself.” 

She also received a recommendation to join the West Musgrave exploration team. 

“Given I had only been with the team for under a year, it was great to be recognized for my work and for the opportunity. Moving interstate for my first full-time role in my chosen field was incredibly motivating. Doing FIFO, remote, and interstate work has been a great experience for me to grow personally too.” 

Working in Copper

Another way OZ Minerals has supported Dana with her career development has been through the support of her supervisors and co-workers. 

“Everyone I’ve worked with has taught me so much professionally and personally. My supervisors always have my best interests at heart. My previous supervisor introduced me to great women in the industry. My senior geologist has taught me how to be a great leader, to be more comfortable with myself, and work to my strengths. 

“He taught me leadership doesn’t mean being the loudest person in the room. It comes in many styles and can be accommodated to each individual. It can be providing your team with the tools and information to do the job. It can be leading by example. I’m grateful to have developed the leadership skills that suit my personality and that I can be confident to use.”  

OZ Minerals offers a range of professional development opportunities, including coaching, mentoring, and leadership development programs.

Unique challenges 

As Dana’s experienced, FIFO work can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging to spend time away from family and friends. 

“The roster means I’ll occasionally miss events throughout the year. When this happens, I celebrate with family and friends before or afterwards. I also try to keep up our FaceTime calls.” 

Dana enjoys the unique challenge OZ Minerals provides working in extreme conditions and remote locations. 

“There are times we’re working in the heat for a few days. When it gets too extreme, we work less hours to reduce our exposure. Everyone looks out for one another. Those days, we’re often all looking forward to an icy pole from the medics! 

“During winter, we’re exposed to cold weather – but it’s easier to overcome when drillers offer me coffee. Working outdoors isn’t easy… especially without a toilet!” Dana laughs. “That’s why my favorite drill pads always have at least one decent tree.” 

Exploring the great outdoors

Something that might surprise people about Dana’s role, is how much wildlife and greenery she encounters in the desert. 

“At West Musgrave, we’d have rain and storms that produced so much greenery. When I first arrived, I was so surprised! When we were drilling at Succoth, we had so much rain that mushrooms grew from the puddles.” 

Dana has worked onsite during storms, rain, and even towards the end of cyclones! She’s encountered all types of wildlife, including dingoes, goannas, camels, lizard dragons, centipedes, scorpions, wild dogs, geckos, snakes, and many birds – from willy wagtails to falcons. 

“Zebra finches would bathe in the sumps. While logging in Babel, a willy wagtail used to greet me in the mornings and afternoons. But I’ve also been swooped! We’d often see camels on the road and have to stop and wait until they’d cleared, as well as dingo tracks.” 

A particularly memorable experience for Dana and her team was when they found a racing pigeon who’d been injured on his way home. 

“We named him ‘Gibson’, and he remained at camp, strutting around in the mornings to assert his authority, before disappearing a few months later.” 

Overall, Dana has found working with your passion and finding a company with shared values makes for a bright future. 

“OZ Minerals is definitely the place for me. I figured, if lots of great people worked here, then it must be a great place to work – and I was right! I’ve gained so much motivation learning from others. It makes you realize everyone is passionate and good at something, and you can always learn something new. Follow your interests and do what makes you happy.” 


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About the Author
Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job. Check out the latest job vacancies with OZ Minerals