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Leading Hand Driller

Andrew Priest
Leading Hand Driller

Andrew Priest recently celebrated an exciting milestone - 15 years at Macmahon! Since joining the team as an Offsider in 2007, Andrew quickly worked his way up to Driller levels three, two and one before becoming a Supervisor.
Andrew Priest - Leading Hand Driller, Olympic Dam

Today, Andrew is our Leading Hand Driller at Olympic Dam. As the Raise Drill Supervisor, his job involves training new team members, offering people responsibilities to help them learn and working towards a strong safety culture where people work well together as a team.

With such a long career at Macmahon, it may be hard to believe that Andrew hasn’t always worked in the mining industry. A third-generation farmer, Andrew previously worked in agriculture, with his main jobs including farming, truck driving and shearing at his family’s property in Streaky Bay.

At the age of 40, Andrew knew it was time for a career change. Despite working 7 days a week, Andrew felt he was struggling to make ends meet, especially as his kids were going through school. One of his friends worked at Olympic Dam and helped Andrew make the move to mining by dropping his resume around to some of the on-site businesses. This move paid dividends, as Andrew was quickly offered several positions on site.

It was the role with Australian Raise Drilling (ARD), now part of Macmahon, at Olympic Dam that excited Andrew the most. While the other job offers were more within his comfort zone, Andrew knew it was something different he wanted, so he eagerly accepted the position.

Fifteen years later, it’s safe to say that Andrew is delighted he made that choice. He is grateful for the opportunities Macmahon has offered him to learn new things and work his way up through the ranks. He now feels great about doing a hard day’s work with his team – and receiving good pay, of course!

Training has been exceptional with supervisor courses and leadership and lots of encouragement around me to succeed and progress in my career.”

While entering any new career path is daunting, Andrew had the support of many mentors at Macmahon. These include Matthew Jones who trained him from the very start.

“Matthew was unbelievable,” Andrew said. “Everything was never an issue, we would just fix it and move on.”

A natural leader, one of the best aspects of Andrew’s job is seeing the team get on well together. He believes in always allowing his team the opportunity to step up, problem solve and challenge themselves. He counts asking lots of questions as one of the most important lessons he’s learned in his career.

“It can be difficult to read people and pick up on when team members may struggle mentally,” Andrew said. “We don’t always know what is going on at home, so checking in with others is essential to ensure they are well supported to keep themselves and their workmates safe.”

Throughout his time at Macmahon, Andrew has seen both the company and the mining industry change for the better. He’s seen the tools, safety standards and on-site maintenance support improve greatly as the team around him has grown. For example, Andrew used to have to fix the equipment himself, but now he has Fitters to help him. The reporting structure at Macmahon has also changed dramatically.

We used to only have a Foreman, but now we have a Project Manager, Foreman and Supervisor to share the workload, responsibilities and skills.”

Perhaps one of the biggest changes Andrew has seen is the increase in women interested in a career in underground mining. Andrew only had three female co-workers in the early days of his career, but today he has many more.

Outside of work, Andrew is a father of three, with two sons and a daughter. He’s happily married too, after meeting his wife at a ‘bushy’ in Poochera on a Friday night out at the movies.

When asked if he had anything else he’d like to share, Andrew had some sound advice – “Work hard and reap the benefits, and be nice to your Mum!”

Congratulations again, Andrew, on 15 fantastic years with Macmahon!