Master mechanic satisfied with working life in Mongolia

                                                       Bradley Bennett in Oyu Tolgoi mine site
August 24,2010

John O'Connor
News Editor

If moving up in the world means graduating from high school in Merritt and landing a high profile mining job in Mongolia, consider Bradley Bennett a perfect example.

After sitting in the front row of the Merritt Secondary School graduating class on a warm June day at the de-iced Nicola Valley Memorial Arena a few months ago, the 56-year-old heavy duty mechanic is now steering the maintenance department at the Oyu Tolgoi (Mongolian for Turquoise Hill) mine in southern Mongolia.

Bennett had gone back to school last September to better himself and make himself more employable, and it paid off, but his mining job in Kamloops would only be the beginning.

“After I got my Grade 12 and the job in Kamloops, I determined that I could not keep myself, my wife, and my Son in the style to which we had become accustomed on the salary they were paying,” says Bennett.

So, Bennett sought some of the contractors he had worked for in the past.

“I then sent out an e-mail to three contractors that I have worked for, asking them if they had any openings for someone with my background and experience. Redpath got back to me first with the Master Mechanics offer in Mongolia at their Oyu Tolgoi site, about 600 km southeast of Ulaanbaatar.”

The Redpath Mongolia mine contains approximately 79-billion pounds of copper and 45-million ounces of gold.

“He couldn't pass up the opportunity because it's good travelling,” says Bennett's wife, Irene.

“He knows people all over the mining industry because he's been in the mining industry for over 35 years, and so, one of his friends knows what a good worker he is and qualifications and just phoned him up one day and asked him what he was doing…They asked him if he wanted to be a boss in Mongolia,” says Bennett with chuckle.

Only about two months into the project, Bennett says things are going well.

“The job has been up and running for five years, but is expanding rapidly, and they felt they needed a master mechanic to steer the maintenance department in a new direction.”

Spending the greater part of last year penning note pads and writing exams alongside his son, Damon, of the same MSS graduating class, Bennett is now in the midst of day-to-day operations at the open pit, underground mine, located in a far off land, quite different from Canada.

“Getting parts to the site is the biggest challenge as some are flown in from various countries and the majority are trucked in through Russia and China,” says Bennett.

“The Mechanics on site that work for me are excellent technicians and make my job easier as I mainly keep them stocked with supplies and tools to do their job, and they require very little advice on the repair end of the job.”

And how has a small-town Canadian man like Bennett managed to adapt to the culture and cuisine of Asia?

“The people are very friendly and curious; they seem to be one of the happiest countries I have ever visited,” admits Bennett.

“Their culture is very old and traditional, that is slowly adapting to western ways. They are extremely hard working and intelligent, and pick up on things almost immediately.”

Typical Mongolian food is made up of spicy dishes made up of lamb, beef, pork, fish, and chicken, although, Bennett says western food is also available.

“I have my cereal with goats milk in the morning and I do not seem to be any worse for the wear from it.”

Although the project will last for many years, even into Bennett's eventual retirement, he says he expects to be at Oyu Tolgoi for at least two years.

“I am working two months in and one month out right now, but expect the time to change to one month in and one month out in the new year.”

“All in all I am more than satisfied with the job and the camp and the meals. The Travel to exotic countries is just one more benefit thrown in,” adds Bennett.

Bennett has been in Mongolia for just over two weeks.



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