I am a lucky bastard. The storms parted for my trip to site when those in the travel windows immediately before and after me were stuck on the bus. My karma investments must be paying off.

Site was a very different place after the rain. Less dust and more frogs would be the summary. It became much more jungle like with the humidity sitting close over the landscape and the sounds of verdancy becoming much louder. I counted at least 4 different kinds of frog call as I fell asleep one night and there are 2 kinds of cicada-like insects making a racket at times.

The atmosphere also started triggering some memory that I couldn't place my finger on immediately, but it came to me after a day or so. Copper sulphate. We used to spray copper sulphate after bud-burst back when we were on the farm. I think it was some sort of anti-fungal treatment. The combination of dirt and copper sulphate was triggering some 30 year old memories in me. It was kinda weird.

This segues nicely into some site history I learned at the long induction session I did on Thursday as a supplement to the safety, safety, safety message. (Mining companies can't get enough safety into their operation.)

The Sepon site is literally on the Ho Chi Minh trail. We are ~100km from the Vietnam border and they showed us some surveilance photos from the '70s matched up against the site now. You can still see some bomb craters from the past in the current pictures and, to be honest, the '70s shot looks a lot like a moon scape. No wonder we have hundreds of people working on clearing UXO from the area. 

And yet, without this having happened, the copper deposits in the area may not have been discovered. It was a large crater that had filled with water that was the first indicator of the potential of the area. The water in this crater had turned a very bright blue. If you did high school science you probably had an assignment to grow a copper sulphate crystal by suspending a seed in some CuSO4 solution. That's the stuff that apparently formed in a bomb crater and was the spark for a whole industry to form in the area.

Footy training was a bit of a bust with only myself and one other guy turning up as someone forgot to send out the reminder email. So we had a bit of a kick before adjourning back to camp and the bar. He did relate a good story from the previous week, though.

In playing a practice match, his wedding ring had come off and got lost in the grass somewhere on the field. The field is right next to the UXO office and so the next morning he met up with the team as they assembled and asked them if they wouldn't mind running the metal detector over the area to help him find his ring. They had a better idea though and lined up 80-odd UXO staff shoulder to shoulder across the field and they crawled along until they found his ring, which took about 10 minutes instead of potentially hours with the metal detector. He handed over a $100 reward to the young Lao woman who found it for him and everybody was happy.

I've also learned to pace myself at the buffet. It's really easy when presented by large piles of free food to go a bit nutso and load your plate up like it's Christmas dinner. I am getting a bit smarter now and I think my stomach is actually happier. Although I have to do a gym induction next time I'm on site as you aren't allowed in unless you've been given the safety briefing. We really do love our safety here.

AuthorBruce Hardie