BHP Billiton enviros to get a taste of salt water
Darren Niejalke examining specimens under a microscope. Image: Gary Cranitch.
8 September 2010
BHP Billiton employees Darren Niejalke and Kim Boyall are gaining a broader understanding of their employer's valuable investment in scientific research this week on the CReefs expedition.
Both came to Lizard Island as part of the BHP Billiton Employee Engagement Program, which sends employees on each of the CReefs expeditions to gain first-hand experience of marine field work.
Darren is a Principal Sustainability Advisor for BHP Billiton, working on projects in South Australia and Western Australia. Kim is a Graduate Environment Officer for Illawarra Coal in Wollongong in New South Wales.
BHP Billiton is the major sponsor of the CReefs Australia expeditions.
"BHP Billiton has a policy of investing one per cent of pre-tax profits, around $200 million a year, in various community programs around the globe. The company then encourages employees to get out into the field and see the impact of this quite significant investment," Darren says.
"Participating in the CReefs trip is a great opportunity for us to gain an appreciation of the wider scope of the company's community involvement, and then when we go back to the office, to tell others about the importance of this work," he says.
Kim Boyall snorkelling. Image: Gary Cranitch.
Kim agrees. "My role with BHP Billiton involves environmental management of three mine sites in New South Wales, but it's important to learn about the latest research across other branches of the scientific community as well.
"I've always been interested in marine science, and the CReefs trip has given me a chance to learn more about what a research field expedition involves –just to get a taste of what marine biologists do," she says.
Darren and Kim have had the chance to snorkel with the scientists at several reef sites around Lizard Island, to observe how they collect samples, and to assist them in the research lab. They have worked with the polychaete team to look for worms in coral rubble that has been collected, and with the parasitology team to dissect fish to search for internal parasites. They have also helped to classify species and process samples for several of the researchers.
"This is valuable experience for my role with BHP Billiton," says Darren.
"My work involves preparing environmental impact statements for new mining projects. I have been working with a small team of marine scientists on one of our upcoming projects, so this is a good opportunity for me to see how other marine researchers apply their trade. Hopefully, I can add a bit of value to the CReefs project, too," he says.
Darren and Kim are visiting the Lizard Island Research Station from 26 August to 1 September.