Rex’s job is no drag
IF YOU have a question about dragline 39, Rex Summerville is your man.
Rex recently celebrated 41 years of service at the Blackwater Mine and for 37 of those years; Rex has operated the very same piece of equipment, dragline 39.
Rex got his start in mining after a call from his brother after growing up in Nambucca Heads and operating equipment in the NSW construction industry.
"In 1974 I got a call from my brother who worked at Blackwater telling me to get on my bike as they were looking for dozer operators in the mines," he said.
"I was lucky enough to get an interview and the rest is history."
Rex became acquainted with dragline 39 in 1977 when the owners of the mine, Thiess Brothers, bought two draglines and built them on site.
"One was Dragline 39, then known as Dragline 1, and the other was Dragline 40, then known as Dragline 2," Rex explained.
"I started on DRE39 in August 1978 when it walked off the pad I got an opportunity as an oiler and learnt to operate from there."
Having been onsite for the past four decades, Rex has seen his fair share of change but nothing that worries him.
"The approach to safety has made the biggest steps forward," he said.
"Things were pretty casual back then but so was life in general.
"It's been a great job and I've been lucky enough to have decent bosses, I think the roster these days is the best part about it as it allows for a good lifestyle."
Rex is passionate about his job with no plans to slow down for retirement.
"Will see what happens but in the mean time I'll just take things day by day," he said.
After his start to his career, Rex is encouraging young people to consider employment in the mines.
"I'd like to see those starting out spend time working in construction first, because I think it might help them better appreciate what they have once they do start working in mining," he said.