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Australia to Africa to Canada: Jaye Robinson’s Incredible Journey Through the Mining Industry

When Jaye Robinson was a young man living in New South Wales, he had a very clear direction for his life: go into the mining industry, stay in Cobar and raise a family. After finishing his apprenticeship, life took him elsewhere.

When he was in his twenties, Jaye wanted to do something outside his comfort zone. With the internet becoming widely available, he was able to search for international work opportunities and set his sights on moving to Africa. Despite higher-ups telling him he was too young, and that the work conditions would be too difficult, he persisted. He was turned down twice but kept pestering people until his emails were forwarded to a manager in Tanzania. Before long, he was touching down in Dar es Salaam headed for an underground gold mine, where he was beginning a three-year journey that would shape the rest of his mining career and his life.

Africa was an enlightening experience, where poor working conditions showed Jaye how the less-fortunate lived. He enjoyed his time there and made plenty of friends, but tragedy eventually struck and Jaye set his sights elsewhere. After waking up one night with malaria, a disease that convinced him that he was close to death, he decided to reevaluate things.

Jaye then moved to Canada, where he would work on Caterpillar equipment in a tools and workshop environment. Despite the blistering weather and hellish flights back to Australia, Jaye came to love Canada and has called it home ever since.

On the latest episode of the Full Production podcast, I met with Jaye in Cobar to talk about this journey and what it has taught him. It’s not a conventional tale, but it certainly made me appreciate the conditions we have in industrialised countries such as Australia, where safety is paramount and we take the lives of our workers seriously. In other countries, that isn’t the case, and lives are lost due to carelessness and poor safety standards.

Jaye now runs his own company in Canada. Austech Industries Ltd. is a heavy duty mechanical repair business servicing the northern Alberta region. After putting his time in doing the heavy lifting, Jaye takes a management and mentorship role, helping young workers wisely navigate the mining industry. He says that plenty of young workers become wrapped up in the big money that they make mining and forego health and lifestyle considerations. And while fun is important, he told me that it’s even more important to keep yourself healthy and happy. As a manager, he has his share of responsibility in this area, as he told me that keeping a safe worksite is essential when it comes to retaining good workers.

All in all, Jaye is a humble, honest Australia native and a good friend of mine. His story is an inspiration, especially to miners who have thought about moving abroad to find adventure and what the mining industry can do for your career and life.

Listen to my entire conversation with Jaye here.