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Do you know what it is like working underground?

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Living in Mount Isa - the town with the largest network of underground mine development in the world - most of us are in some way connected to the Copper or Zinc operations here. That being said, not all of us really know what it is like working underground.

 

How deep underground do they work?

The Copper mine's internal shaft reaches a depth of almost 2km.

 

How do they get underground?

Mine workers descend into the mine in a large cage which holds 94 people, and it travels at about 16 metres per second (60km/hour).

 

Hours

Miners usually work 10 or 12 hour shifts and rosters vary. Some miners work up to 7 days on / 7 days off, and some work night shifts as well.

 

Conditions

As you can imagine, they do have adequate ventilation systems, but it can still get hot down there. Temperatures in most of the working areas of the mine are air conditioned to around 28 degrees Celsius, but there are high levels of humidity.

 

Visibility can be challenging, and in the ore body area your headlamp is often the only source of light.

 

Some of us might perceive mines as dark, challenging and secluded places, but from my conversations with miners, that isn't entirely accurate. The tunnels are about 5mx5m and it is possible to drive through these tunnels that lead to the underground workshops and working stope areas.

 

Although miners can be tough, they like to laugh and tell stories and it is that community which makes the atmosphere more open and inviting.

 

Is it for you?

If 2.5 hours underground sounds more up your alley than 10 or 12, Mount Isa has a replica mine which is open to visitors.

 

Make sure to stop by Outback at Isa on Marian street and book a tour in the Hard Times Mine. You can experience going underground in the cage (only 1 level down), wind your way through the tunnels and enjoy refreshments in the crib room. I've heard they have the best corned beef sandwiches! 

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