Lucille Lievaux (seen here), a 25-year-old French geologist, commutes to work on a plane, a 1,300-km journey from Australia's Indian Ocean city of Perth to the mining town of Karratha, a smudge of suburbia on the continent's barren northwest coast.
Slim, blonde and passionate about her job, she sits in Karratha's busy single-storey airport, waiting for a jet to take her home. She has swapped her hard-hat and orange-striped overalls for a short-sleeved cotton top, jeans and sneakers. Wearing her sunglasses like a hair-band, she looks out of place in a departure lounge crowded mostly with unshaven men.
Only the dirt beneath her short fingernails and tanned, weathered hands would suggest she has something in common.
"Australia is like an El Dorado," says Lievaux, who came a year ago on a holiday. She now nets $5,000 a month, working two weeks out of every three at the Whim Creek prospect, an old open-cut copper mine dug out of the red rocky plain.
"It's so easy, so easy to find a job here as a geologist."
Text: Rebekah Kebede and Mark Bendeich, Reuters
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