Bernie O’neil is one of CuDeco’s longest standing employees, from the early days of Rocklands when it was just a fenced
area with the remains of previous mining operations scattered around Benie acted as caretaker of the site living in a make
shift residence whilst commencing the drilling program that would lead to Rockland’s impressive resource that
catapulted CuDeco into the ASX 200.
A student of the old way of doing things Bernie and his beloved Ingersoll-Rand drill rig have been inseperable over the
years performing countless numbers of sampling and drilling for blast operations on site. With his almost 12 years of
dedication to the company this is Bernies story and it is part of what makes CuDeco what it is today.
MEMORIES OF ROCKLANDS
I started drilling when I was 17 but I had to put my age up to 21 when I applied for work as that was the legal age to work
on a mine site. With over 35 years of drilling mostly for blasting operations coming to Rocklands and drilling for exploration
was a challenge I accepted.
In the early years of Rocklands there wasn’t much of anything on the lease, I lived in a make-shift homestead and the roof
was covered with spinifex to keep the heat out, surprisingly it worked pretty well. The old Wilgar pit was my bathroom
and after work I would go out there for a swim.
The lease wasn’t fenced yet but we had gated off the compound area. Entering or leaving in the morning would be
interesting as the cattle from the adjoining farms would come flooding through, after collecting the ones that got through
from the stampede it would be off to work.
The Rab Drill lines seemed to be endless but when you got a good result it seemed to make it all worthwhile. The drilling
was tough as I had an air-track drill towing a compressor and all rod changing was done by hand.
The lines that we put in were only partially cleared with turpentine everywhere that would scratch you from head to toe
as you walked the drill, I guess being dressed in only a t-shirt and stubby shorts worked well for the heat but not for the
weeds… When we upgraded from air track drills to hydraulic rigs progress came around a lot quicker in comparison
to the older setups we started with.
From when I started up till now it’s unbelievable the progress that has been made, from nothing but weeds and cattle to
the start of an open-cut mine, a process plant in construction and stockpiles of ore ready to be processed. It’s a great
feeling to see that all that work we did in the early days remains part of the legacy that makes CuDeco the
company it is today.