Kate Vaughan

Kate Vaughan

Job title

Closure/Environmental graduate

Who do you work for?

Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in Western Australia.

What does your job involve?

As a graduate I’ve been able to work in many different roles, including Perth and Pilbara based roles. Graduates rotations are designed to develop your understanding of your chosen pathway, and the business as a whole. I’ve worked as a:

  • Rehabilitation advisor: managing and monitoring rehabilitation projects.
  • Site environmental advisor: managing the daily environmental work of an operating mine.
  • Closure planning: developing closure plans for mines.
  • Heritage advisor: establishing management plans
  • Tenure management and strategy: obtaining and managing tenure.
Why did you choose to work in this sector?

I always was interested in the environment and mining. I loved Science and Biology at high school and I knew this was an area I wanted to be involved in. I applied for vacation work with Rio Tinto whilst at university, to get a better understanding of the industry.

What is the most rewarding part of your current job?

I love the diversity of my current role. The learning opportunities are endless, and I learn something new every day. I also like knowing that what I am doing is helping the environment and developing a positive final outcome.

I also love working for a company that has a great set of values and brilliant people.

What is the most challenging part of your current job?

Developing effective plans/designs that are able to meet a number of criteria. With closure and rehabilitation planning, there are so many factors that contribute to success of the final outcome. Every aspect of the plan must be considered in great detail to minimise the risk and improve the final outcome.

What do you hope to do in the future?

I hope to further my knowledge and experience in the environment/closure/rehabilitation space.

What are some of the other benefits of your job?

Rio Tinto encourages people to grow and develop their skills and knowledge, even if it’s something that may not be directly linked with their role.

What training did you have for this job?

After secondary school: BSc Environmental Biology (Land and Water Restoration)

Vacation work at Rio Tinto

What career advice would you give to school students interested in a similar career?

Employers are always looking for good communication skills (written and verbal). You need to be able to communicate information clearly to others, in a way they understand. In an environmental role you speak to so many different types of people, from managers to dozer drivers, and you need to make it clear to these people ‘why’ the environment matters to them.

And always give everything and anything a go. Always put your hand up to help and look for learnings in everything.

To find out more about how Rio Tinto supports classroom teaching and learning in maths, science and business studies for young people aged 12-16 visit SMART, our free international education portal. Using a combination of interactive whiteboard presentations, printable lesson plans, worksheets and case studies, students can explore how their academic studies relate to real-world operations in a major global business.