My answer to What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
Answer by Desmond Last:
The two men working with me had collapsed from heat exhaustion. They they were big and tough but the previous night’s drinking had dehydrated them. I was at Pine Creek Gold Mine in the Northern Territory, Australia. We were inside a Ball Mill.
It was so hot you could fry an egg on your head. We were replacing the rubber blocks that line the inside of the Ball Mill. They carry the steel balls round that enable the ore to be crushed.
If there is a Hell on Earth (apart from Aleppo in Syria) then renovating a Ball Mill in the heat is it. I had only been in Australia for just over 14 months and was still able to remember how cold it was in the U.K when the inside of your car is iced-up.
I could not give in as I was the Pommy and all the Australians would have loved taking the mickey if I had.
When a mine stops production for shutdown work it loses money immediately. Some mines only open when the price of Gold is above their break-even point.
So the pressure is on to get the job done as quickly as possible. You end up working day and night as the rubber blocks never fit and have to be hand-cut to size.
It was hard hard hot work. The Pub was the first place we would visit after the job was completed – even at 6.00 am in the morning.