Tom Bellinger

Tom Bellinger

Job title

Mechanical Engineer

Who do you work for?

Rio Tinto Alcan in Weipa

What does your job involve?

In my role, I look at maintenance projects across our East Weipa mining operations, from the truck/train dumping station to the Beneficiation Plant and ship loading infrastructure.

Why did you choose to work in this sector?

While at university, I undertook vacation work with Kimberly Clark at their manufacturing plant in South Australia. After getting a taste of manufacturing, I was inspired to get my ‘foot in the door’ with the mining industry as their mechanical infrastructure is on a larger scale, and in a more complex operating environment.

What is the most rewarding part of your current job?

The most rewarding part of my job is completing a project that directly adds value to the way we operate, through increased efficiency or monetary savings.

I’ve also found that no matter how much time and effort you spend planning a project, there will always be unexpected challenges that come up. Being able to overcome these challenges calmly and effectively to deliver the project is extremely gratifying.

What has been one of your recent achievements?

A significant project I led in 2013 included the overhaul of a vital piece of equipment at our truck dump. The apron feeder equipment had unexpectedly failed, and I was tasked with ordering all the parts needed, getting the equipment and labour to site and developing a plan on how to overhaul the equipment—all within a month’s notice. The project was completed safely, on time and to a very high quality, for which I was nominated for a Bravo! award.

What is the most challenging part of your current job?

The most challenging part is in the lead up to a project. If I am not organised in the way I manage a project, it can be easy to overlook a fine detail, which could impact the work when it happens.

What do you hope to do in the future?

I hope to continue working for Rio Tinto, further developing my skills and taking on new opportunities, including leadership experiences.

What are some of the other benefits of your job?

Living in a beautiful place like Weipa, in Far North Queensland.

What training did you have for this job?
  • Upper secondary school – Maths (including specialist), physics and chemistry. Every university has different prerequisites for mechanical engineering, but they are also offer bridging courses as alternative entries.
  • After secondary school – Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering, from the University of South Australia.
What career advice would you give to school students interested in a similar career?

It doesn’t matter if you are unsure of what you want to be after high school. Work hard at your school subjects while you have the chance, and identify the ones you enjoy the most. Also, don’t stress too much about grades in high school.  Better grades are easier to achieve if you are studying something you are passionate about. Attending open days at universities and speaking to people will help you match up the subjects you enjoy and a possible career.