Michael and Charlie Jackson at Anglo American's Moranbah North mine site.
Michael and Charlie Jackson at Anglo American's Moranbah North mine site. Stuart Quinn

Family ties at the coal face

EXCLUSIVE: YOUNG Charlie Jackson is a chip off the old block - or coal face, as the case might be.

This ambitious young girl is following in her father Michael Jackson's footsteps and heading to the mines for work.

Charlie joined 13 of her Moranbah State High School mates from Years 10, 11 and 12 on an excursion to Anglo American's Moranbah North mine.

Charlie has applied for a Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) traineeship, of which Anglo American is a sponsor, which will give her the benefit of two years' experience in mining, getting an assortment of tickets, straight out of school.

Mick, as he's know around Moranbah North, has been in the industry for 10 years, first working FIFO and DIDO, spending 10 hours tripping back forth for work before making the move to Moranbah.

"I'm just a miner driver operator, just operate the equipment. That's always been my role - and development,” he said.

Mick said Charlie rarely sees him in his work kit, except for "eyeliner” - coal dust stuck on the eyes - but is incredibly proud to join him at work for a look inside of Queensland's most profitable industry.

"It makes me feel real proud, it does, really, she's grown up now, she's going to be out of school at the end of this year and into the real world,” Mick laughed.

"Being a male environment I had my hesitations when it comes to my little girl going underground, but it's one of those things that's going to happen anyway, she might as well jump on board and get paid.”

Charlie found out about the QMEA traineeship through the Miners team for footy.

"Dad searched it up and found it online ... I emailed off the resume and cover letter,” she said. "I've always wanted to go underground but it was good Dad took us out because it made it more exciting and I felt more comfortable.”

Mick said the trainees will get the overall experience of mining.

"For the two years they get to experience the whole package,” he said.

"When you're an inexperienced miner you're a yellow hat which means you can't do anything, but when you get off your yellow hat you start getting your driftie tickets, your loaders, your bolting.”

Charlie was joined by her school mates from Moranbah State High School on the adventure.

The 14 girls were selected to take part in the tour, organised by the QMEA to coincide with National Science Week, and promote a goal of 20 per cent women in the resources sector by 2020.

It is the first time the QMEA has taken an all-girls group of students underground at a coal mine.

Sarah Coughlan led the girls around the site, showing them the washing plant, handling coal, underground in the driftie and learning about an industry integral to north and central Queensland.

Ms Coughlan is a former QMEA ambassador and Nanango State High School student, now working as a graduate engineer at Moranbah North mine and one of the small percentage of women who work underground in the sector.

"Without the QMEA I would never have imagined a career in this industry and I really want to share with the girls the fantastic opportunities it offers and the interesting career options,” she said.

"I also want to show them how awesome the mining environment can be and dispel the fear of the unknown. I'd really love to see more women come and work in our sector and it's great to see all the initiatives that have been put in place by resources companies to attract and retain women.

"The tour will also give them an insight into just how seriously we take safety and health and our environmental obligations.”

The six-hour experience also included a mine site induction and observation of underground operations and promoted mining careers to the young women.

Currently women represent 15 per cent of the resources sector workforce in Queensland.

The QMEA and the Queensland Resource Council are hopeful that endeavours such as this will help the industry reach 20 per cent by 2020.

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