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Ranui Harris
Dump Truck Operator, Greenbushes

Ranui Harris
Dump Truck Operator, Greenbushes

Ranui Harris moved to Bridgetown to work on the Greenbushes mine in 1997, having emigrated from Tuatapere, Southland New Zealand. Beyond the career opportunity, she was attracted to the rolling hills and breathtaking views of WA's South West, reminiscent of her hometown. Her start in Greenbushes has led to a deep community connection which has come full circle.
Ranui Harris

Ranui has had a diverse and dynamic career in the resources sector and not-for-profits. But even when working across WA on FIFO contracts, she has nurtured deep roots in the Shire of Bridgetown for over 25 years, working with local vineyards, volunteering as The Blues at Bridgetown festival coordinator, as well as three years as the recreation centre manager for the Bridgetown-Greenbushes Shire.

In 2010, she began a career-defining 11 years as the manager, then executive, of the Manjimup Community Resource Centre, overseeing government partnerships and delivering crisis support, all while balancing the responsibilities of family life as a mum.

But it was at the Greenbushes site that she began her career, first working as a truckie, moving to drill and blast QA, before spending three years as a site administrator and travelling support to start-up mines. FIFO to the Pilbara took its toll after a few years, as did leaving Bridgetown at 1.15 a.m. each swing to drive to Perth for a charter flight, followed by a 2-hour bus trip each way.

Now on a 12-hour roster and 7:7 swing, Ranui’s role is just a 17-minute drive from her 5-acre Bridgetown property. She is much happier with the work-life balance and is able to remain close to her adult son, who lives and works at home.

I never need to stress over transport to an airport or flight availability. I walk to the car park and drive home to be with those I love.”

In 2020, Ranui re-joined the Greenbushes mine with contractors SG Mining. When Macmahon announced it would partner with Talison Lithium in 2022, all existing SG staff were encouraged to apply for their current roles.

When the new arrangement took effect on 1 July 2023, the crew were greeted by the Macmahon leadership team and associated support staff with an info presentation and barbecue meet-and-greet with key staff. Team members received their co-branded uniforms and an embroidered backpack loaded with goodies as a meaningful acknowledgement of work and efforts to date.

From the outset, I have felt valued as a team member; when I have had concerns or matters of importance to raise, I have been treated with humility, respect and confidence.”

Ranui has noticed significant changes since Talison Lithium and Macmahon became collaborators at Greenbushes. Working as a contractor previously, she felt there could be a bit of an “us and them” mentality. She now proudly wears a uniform with both logos and feels a strong sense of belonging and equality.

Ranui appreciates that pre-start meetings are thorough and never rushed, so all personnel have a fair opportunity to seek clarification and work instruction. No questions are deemed irrelevant, encouraging the younger team members to join in and gain confidence. Toolbox/Safety meetings occur monthly, and they, too, are a trusted and open discussion for all crew members to raise concerns and receive updates.

I’ve seen major improvements to our haul roads, pit floors, and the overall presentation of the mining areas. I feel a sense of pride when driving around the mine, watching the transformation occur.”

Well-recognised and highly regarded at the Greenbushes site, Ranui currently works primarily as a Dump Truck Operator, as well as a subject matter expert to train or assist in the pass-out process for new starters.

She takes a proactive approach to mentoring throughout the welcome process and provides ongoing personal support to all — seen as a kind of crew Aunty — someone always there to listen. Ranui has further career ambitions with Macmahon, seeking more ways to apply her life experience and management and community development abilities in a meaningful way.

She recognises that the Pilbara and Goldfields have their own kind of beauty, but it is incomparable to working close to the magnificence of native bush and farmland.

And as a place to raise a family, Ranui treasures the fact that her son, now 21, grew up in a beautiful and caring community. The Neighbourhood Watch is alive and well. Her son began playing the guitar at five years old and had many opportunities to perform at the Blues at Bridgetown music festival, which inspires many regional youth to explore creative arts.

For those who love hunting and gathering, native bush and coastal areas are on the doorstep. Wine and incredible cuisine are abundant in the Southern Forests Region to tempt your tastebuds and provide endless entertainment. And if creativity inspires you, local artists and enthusiasts attend the River Park Markets fortnightly.

Soon, more people will be able to become a part of the greater South West community with the opening of the new Accommodation Camp, designed as a resort-style facility, with all rooms purposely built with a balcony or a view.

And Ranui’s advice on anyone considering a tree change for work at Greenbushes?

“Those volunteer sporting clubs and associations are the heart of every small community. If you Act Belong Commit, you’ll very quickly sense the rewards; establishing meaningful friendships and support networks for all family members.”

Ranui’s Top Picks for Exploring WA’s South West

Southern Forests & Valleys
Genuinely Southern Forests » Southern Forests Food Council
Things to do in the Southern Forests and Valleys » Australia’s South West
About Bridgetown-Greenbushes » Shire of Bridgetown