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Miners battle for league glory

ISSN 1833-3125

THIS EDITION • New life for Lady Annie • CQ crew wins national rescue title • Dysart’s Big Birthday Bash • Truck brake blitz to continue in 2010

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NEWS

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

1

November 2009

2 An Osborne family reunion A chance encounter with the widow of a geologist whose discovery founded Osborne mine put the wheels in motion for a family visit recently and the chance to return a treasured reminder of the operation’s origins.

3

Q Copper launch to revive Lady Annie

Cape Lambert Iron Ore chief executive Tony Sage shares details of the company’s latest plans for the Lady Annie mine. A new company - Q Copper – is being listed on the market in a strategy to take the former CopperCo operation back into full production in 2010.

Matthew Gulliver’s run is stopped by MICO Devils players Will Blakeley and Jackson Seymour (above) during a Battle of the Mines clash. More photos and stories from the tournament - Pages 30-32. Cover shot: Rob Herbert and Rob Willis drive Cougars attacker Ty Ritson away from the try line. Photo: Outback Photographics

8 Birthday bash goes off with a bang More than 3500 people came to the party when Dysart marked the 35th anniversary of Saraji coal mine operations and the 30th anniversary for nearby Norwich Park. The celebrations included a street parade and a concert featuring chart-topping singer Jessica Mauboy and Mark Seymour.

11 Boost for NQ manufacturing

FEATURES 6 Mackay Regional Capacity 10 Townsville Regional Capacity 12 Mount Isa Regional Capacity 14 Coal and Gas Update News in brief across the coal and gas industries.

Pollards Galvanizing is set to open a new $10 million galvanising plant in Townsville - a move managing director Steve Pollard says will “take the handbrake off ” the local steel fabrication sector. He believes the

16 Industry Update A comprehensive wrap of exploration and operations in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

added capacity arising from the facility’s operations will help city businesses win more major project work.

25 Truck brake blitz rolls on A Queensland Mines Inspectorate crackdown which has seen vehicles ordered off the road at Bowen Basin coal sites will continue in 2010. The inspectors’ focus will move to metalliferous mines and quarries as they continue their campaign to prevent workplace fatalities linked to faulty braking systems.

18 Between Shifts 22 Groundwork Group 24 Safety 27 Building Mining Communities 30 Battle of the Mines

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Advertising booking deadline January edition: December 18 All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced in part or in full by any means without written permission of the managing editor. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher.


2

NEWS

November 2009 |

The Mining Advocate

Return to Osborne

Lab assistant ‘DJ’ can really pack a punch

A chance encounter recently opened a link with the past and saw a geologist’s family revisit the mine that grew from his work.

A recent decision to introduce female boxing to the Olympic Games from 2012 has raised the bar for Cloncurry’s Deni Jay Lyons. Lyons, a laboratory technician with Xstrata Copper’s Ernest Henry Mining (EHM), came home from the Sunstate Amateur Boxing League State Titles in Cairns recently with two gold medals. The 55kg fighter – known as “DJ” - hopes to get a shot at a title at the upcoming Australian titles in Victoria and has welcomed the International Olympic Committee’s move in August to clear the way for women to fight for Olympic gold. “I’d love to box at the Olympics – when I heard female boxing was going to be introduced it became a goal straight away,” Lyons said. She hoped having women boxing at the Olympics would help attract more females to the sport. Lyons, 18, is a member of the Cloncurry PCYC boxing team and regularly spars with male team members who are a good 20kg heavier. She was forced to fight up in higher weight categories at the

Some routine office follow-up on a company invoice has led to a family reunion of sorts for northwest Queensland’s Osborne mine. Accounts manager Carole Anderson stumbled across Anita Osborne – the widow of the geologist whose discovery sparked the mining operation - in business dealings mid-year. The link was revealed to mining superintendent Bob Hayes, sparking a mission to get the Osborne family to the mine and to return a guitar which had been on display at the site since its opening 14 years ago. Bob Osborne died of a heart attack at 39, before the deposit he identified had realised its potential. A plaque displayed with his guitar at the mine site featured this quote from his widow: “Only hours before his death, he had received the results of a core sample. He came home from work and sat down, gave a great smile of satisfaction and said ‘this is it, it is going to be a mine without doubt’.” Mr Hayes said Anita and children Lucas, Lee and Angela

had attended the opening of the Osborne operation in 1995 and had not been back since. That all changed after some legwork by Osborne employees saw a visit organised in October that included Mrs Osborne – who lives in Brisbane, her children and Mr Osborne’s brothers, Neil and Geoff. The mine hosted the family over two days with activities including an underground tour. “Then it was time for us to return the guitar,” Mr Hayes said. “Every visitor to Osborne mines has seen this guitar when they

Osborne mine superintendent Bob Hayes returns Bob Osborne’s guitar to the geologist’s widow, Anita Osborne.

walked into the admin building, most walked over and read the plaque, and then another person had learnt something about Bob Osborne.” He said Mr Osborne’s tenacity had helped enrich the lives of the thousands of people involved with the mine over the years. The copper-gold operation, 195km south-east of Mount Isa, faces closure in 2010 after owners Barrick Gold earlier this year dropped plans to develop the Kulthor underground project at the site. A company spokesman said in early November that Barrick Gold was still evaluating and exploring various options for Osborne, which may include closure or possible sale.

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EHM laboratory assistant Deni Jay Lyons with the two gold medals she won at the Sunstate Amateur Boxing League State Titles in Cairns.

state titles in Cairns as there were no competitors in her own division. She subsequently took out the state titles in both the 60 and 67kg divisions. “I’ve wanted to win a state title since I began boxing three years ago so it was especially satisfying to get two,” Lyons said. • Moranbah boxing champ’s farewell fight - Page 28.


NEWS

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

3

New life for Lady Annie mine The former CopperCo operation is tipped to resume full ore production within months under a reopening strategy unveiled recently. The owners of the Lady Annie copper mine are launching a new company - Q Copper, which is set to crank up the north-west Queensland site to a 25,000-tonne-per-annum operation in the first half of 2010. Cape Lambert Iron Ore chief executive Tony Sage unveiled the Q Copper concept at a recent Brisbane mining conference, where he said it received a good response. He said mining and hauling contracts for the revitalised former CopperCo operation were expected to go out in the first quarter of 2010. “The local community now can look forward to all the requests that Q Copper will put out to get the operation up and running again,” Mr Sage said. The new company is expected to list on the Australian Securities Exchange before Christmas. Cape Lambert bought the Lady Annie operation in June, along with other assets linked to failed mining junior CopperCo, and has since been positioning it for a relaunch. The Lady Annie operation, 120km north of Mount Isa, had been producing about 17,000 tonnes of copper per annum before CopperCo went into liquidation and subsequent flooding early this year crippled the site. Mr Sage said CopperCo had just spent $45 million to ramp Lady Annie up to an operation capable of producing 25,000tpa of copper cathode in October 2008 before trouble struck.

“A couple of months earlier they merged with Minsec, which had a lot of debt,” he said. “In November 2008, after they had finished the upgrade, the company was put into receivership by Macquarie Bank. “It had nothing to do with the operating asset (Lady Annie mine) - that was a very profitable enterprise.” Mr Sage said the waterlogged mining pits had recently dried out and Cape Lambert had completed clean-up work on site, including constructing channels to protect the leach pads from inundation. “We’ve done a lot of work in conjunction with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in making sure if such rain comes again the water is diverted from the leach pads,” Mr Sage said. The company had secured new management for the site and severed contracts that were “inefficient to the operation”, he said. These steps had paved the way for Q Copper to have mining in full swing as early as May next year to allow full capacity of up to 25,000 tonnes per annum, he said. “We could have easily shut everything down and sacked all the staff and not bothered,” Mr Sage said “But then it would have been harder to reopen. We deliberately kept staff processing ore to ensure the processes are still working.” Mr Sage said about 30 staff were on site at the moment, compared to 160 at the

Cape Lambert Iron Ore chief executive Tony Sage launches Q Copper at the Mining 2009 Resources Convention at the Hilton Brisbane Hotel. Photo: Fiona Harding

CopperCo operation’s peak. While mining was at a standstill, the operation had continued to produce copper cathode from ore on the leach pads. “We have sold about 600 tonnes of copper on a solid market and raised $4 million,” Mr Sage said. It would cost about $15-$25 million to get the mine up and running to 25,000tpa capacity, he said. The initial public stock offering (IPO) is expected to provide those funds and more for the new operation, as well as placing about $150 million directly into Cape Lambert’s coffers.

Cape Lambert will keep a 2-5 per cent share of the spin-off company. Mr Sage said the Lady Annie operation had attracted a lot of interest from potential cornerstone investors, with the company hosting about a dozen groups on site. “We’re just very pleased that this process has come this far this quickly,” he said “The prospectus should be ready hopefully in (early November) and then we’re on the road selling it internationally. “We’ll go to all the big markets – the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. “We’ll see probably 30 fund

managers and will open it up for retail investors probably in late November.” Mr Sage said much of the extra funds raised in the IPO would go towards geological work on site, with plans drawn up for a large exploration program. The operation’s current life of mine is about five or six years, but Mr Sage believed that would be easily increased to 10 years through near-mine exploration. “We’ve got some fantastic targets,” he said. “There is more than 1800sq km of ground and about 1700 hasn’t been explored in great detail. The exploration potential for Q Copper is huge.”

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NEWS

November 2009 |

The Mining Advocate

Rescue champions A central Queensland team can boast a national title after taking on top performers from coal operations throughout Australia. The Gregory Crinum mines rescue team has won the 47th Australian Mines Rescue Competition, helping Queensland achieve three out of the top four places in the annual challenge. The national championship win was a first for the Emerald district mine, which went through to the competition at Lithgow, New South Wales, after taking out second place in a Queensland competition in September. The Lithgow-based Western Districts team placed second at the 2009 Australian Mines Rescue Competition, followed

by teams from Kestrel Mine near Emerald and Oaky No. 1 near Tieri. BMA Gregory Crinum general manager Michael Nucifora said the Gregory Crinum mines rescue team had won two individual sections and came second in four sections in a competition that saw them pitted against eight teams regarded as some of the best in their respective fields. “This is a magnificent outcome for the team, their captain Rick Halpin, Gregory Crinum mine and BMA,” Mr Nucifora said. “Their dedication, commitment and team work was exceptional.”

Business upswing in Bowen Basin The effects of the economic downturn hit fast and hard for mining industry support firm Mine Assist. Demand dropped quickly late last year and Mine Assist’s northern Bowen Basin business bottomed out mid-year at a level around 40 per cent below that experienced at the same time in 2008, according to company general manager Bill Highland. But Mr Highland said the volume of work and requests for quotes had been on the rise at the Moranbah office since midAugust. “There’s been quite a recovery in the Bowen Basin since midAugust – it’s not astronomical, but it’s solid,” he said. In fact, he said Mine Assist – Moranbah was travelling slightly better now than before the downturn. This was thanks in part to “catch-up” work for companies who had kept a tight rein on spending during the worst of the downturn and to the introduction of new products and services. Mr Highland said activity levels in the Bowen Basin had turned the corner well ahead of the Hunter Valley area, where Mine Assist has branches in Singleton and Mount Thorley. He said Mine Assist had been forced to cut its 70-strong workforce by a quarter during the worst of the downturn, but was rebuilding employee numbers. A number of its competitors had failed to survive, he said. “A lot of small engineering shops that have been around for a generation or two have disappeared and there are a

Bill Highland Mine Assist general manager

number of contracting companies in administration in northern Queensland,” Mr Highland said. Townsville-based steel fabrication and labour hire firm TotalFab cut staff by 60 per cent to deal with the loss of business stemming from the mining industry downturn in north-west Queensland. Managing director Marcel McLeod said the mining-related component of TotalFab’s business had dropped from about 90 per cent to 5 per cent. March/April had been the worst period and was followed by a spurt of work in recent months, Mr McLeod said. The labour hire side of the enterprise had not lifted at all. “Obviously the mining industry has tightened the reins a bit and (operations) are relying a bit more on internal staff,” he said. “I think they’ll be trying to stay there for a while – they won’t be as flamboyant as they were 12 months ago or before. It might take a couple of years to get back to where we were 18 months ago.”

The winning Gregory Crinum team: (front row) Wayne Barnes, Rick Halpin, Brendan Idles, (back row) Matt Jewell, Mike Walker, Travis Ryan and Mick Pass.

Four teams from New South Wales, four from Queensland and one from Tasmania were tested in a range of exercises in the one-day competition, held at Clarence Colliery on October 23. Queensland Mines Rescue

Service operations manager Lindsay Creighton – who was among the assessors at the event - said these included a compressed air breathing apparatus (CABA) exercise, a trauma management exercise,

a theory component and individual challenges.There was also a major underground exercise with multiple elements that accounted for 60 per cent of the competition points, Mr Creighton said.

Industry takes optimistic turn The state’s mining sector is clearly through the worst of the economic downturn and some key projects are likely to receive the go ahead next year, according to Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche. As business picks up, the industry is entering a crucial few months in terms of regulatory decisions that will impact on its future - with Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation going to a vote in federal parliament in November and hopes that the Henry Tax Review report to be handed down in December will recommend immediate implementation of a flowthrough shares scheme to aid exploration. The QRC’s latest CEO Sentiment Survey confirmed that concerns about the global macro economy have eased among mining executives, although that factor was still expected to have a greaterthan-normal adverse impact in the next 12 months. Uncertain and/or poor regulation and the CPRS topped their list of concerns. While the Queensland industry was clearly experiencing an upturn, Mr Roche said the exact nature of where it sat was masked by the unexpected strength of demand from China. “There seems to be an element of restocking and the

demand flowing from China’s own stimulus policy,” Mr Roche said. “That effect might settle down somewhat in coming months, but it has been useful in the meantime in providing an offset at the time of greatest weakness in other traditional markets. I have to say as I move around the industry the mood is one of greater optimism they’re talking more about their growth projects, but they’re not rushing at things.” In his 2009 QRC Exploration Breakfast address Mr Roche reported that employment across the sector in Queensland had risen by 21 per cent in the past 12 months to 45,800 – demonstrating the industry’s resilience. Queensland also broke all previous records for coal exports in 2008-09 despite the economic downturn. When queried on whether companies had been too quick to wield the axe on jobs at the onset of the downturn, Mr Roche said some had faced massive cutbacks in demand as major customers went into recession. “You shouldn’t underestimate the pain that was incurred by some of the companies that had a great exposure to our traditional markets like Japan,” he said. The industry outlook for 2010 depended very much on what was happening in the United States, Mr Roche said. “I think we shouldn’t expect

China to provide the same buffer that it has in recent months,” he said. “I think that will settle but at a new level where I think China will be a major market for our resource community.” Mr Roche expected to see a green light next year for some major coal mining projects “after we have the certainty of knowing what the CPRS looks like” and said decisions were due on some of the state’s proposed LNG projects. “If they all happen then just the construction phase demand for skills will be quite significant - in fact quite challenging,” he said. The QRC backed the recent Australian Coal Association campaign warning of mass job losses under the CPRS, saying the emissions trading scheme as currently proposed would make Australia the only country in the world that taxed emissions from the mining of coal. “If your coal deposit is one which gives off a lot of fugitive methane gas, as the CPRS is currently constructed you will be buying a lot of carbon permits,” Mr Roche said. This would extract about $14 billion across the Australian coal industry within the first 10 years if introduced, he said. “That’s a scary cost for a number of projects - uncertainty hanging over a number of projects, as well as existing mines. Everyone wants to see where that’s headed,” he said.


NEWS

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

5

Pajingo eyes ‘next big thing’ North Queensland Metals is keen to gauge the potential of a new gold system at its Charters Towers district mine, writes Belinda Humphries. The operators of Pajingo gold mine outside Charters Towers have launched a deep drill program to gain more insight into a deposit described as “the next big thing” at the site. North Queensland Metals (NQM) chief executive officer John McKinstry said the Moonlight deposit was an intact epithermal system with mineralisation extending over 1sq km. Apart from its size, an important feature of the Moonlight deposit was that it seemed increasingly likely that it lay on a different structure to the Vera Nancy system currently being mined at Pajingo, he said. “It tracks parallel. These systems do tend to be stacked in a sense, so if you’re on to another one there’s a possibility of others as well,” Mr McKinstry said. The company plans to complete six drill holes extending 700m to 800m deep by the end of the year - at a cost of about $500,000 - to further investigate the find. The Moonlight exploration effort is among a raft of projects NQM has been able to accelerate thanks to a $10.2 million capital raising effort last quarter, including a “hugely successful” share purchase plan. The company is also pushing ahead with work on two satellite ore sources to feed the Pajingo processing plant – a potential mine at Dotswood, 60km south-west of Townsville, and the recommencement of production at the former BMA

Twin Hills operation, 190km south of Pajingo. Mr McKinstry said bringing those projects online should more than double the Pajingo mill’s gold output to more than 140,000 ounces per annum in about three years’ time. NQM owns the Dotswood project 100 per cent, while the Twin Hills project is co-owned with its Pajingo joint venture partner Heemskirk. Mr McKinstry said the Moonlight deposit was expected to provide the next major ore source at the Pajingo site following the planned mining of the Zed Sonia and Voyager deposits around late 2010 to 2011. The most likely approach would be to keep extending the development work underground towards Moonlight, which is 1-1.5km from those deposits. “Moonlight is the next big thing at Pajingo,” Mr McKinstry said. “The area that comes up in geophysical expressions of that deposit is really 1km by 1km. It’s a very big system and within that we think there are multiple veins – they will carry the higher grade material.” Mr McKinstry said that without new discoveries there were enough proven resources to continue mining at Pajingo for another five years. “But I think all of us know this ore body well enough to say there will be new things discovered,” he said. NQM and Heemskirk took over the site from mining giant Newmont last year and Mr

Drilling at the Moonlight gold deposit.

McKinstry said the company viewed its future there as promising. It was still considering other potential ventures in the area, in addition to the Dotswood and Twin Hills projects, he said.

Photo: Scott Jesser

NQM in October extended its option to purchase the Dotswood project to January 2010 – allowing the company to complete pit design, finalise reserves and assess mining and haulage tenders.

Meanwhile the company is continuing to evaluate the ore body at the Twin Hills project, acquired from Gold One International for $1.75 million in July. A resource estimate is expected by the end of the year.

Novel mine training site A Rockhampton firm has established a simulated mine site outside the city to provide the first machine operator training facility of its kind in Queensland. New Horizons Safety and Training Services business development manager Tony Thomas said there was nowhere else in the state, outside of actual mining operations, where people hoping to break into this line of work could gain nationally

recognised tickets. “To be able to train and assess people to mining industry standards, courses need to be conducted under mining or simulated mining conditions,” Mr Thomas said. The new training facility, about 20km north-east of Rockhampton, features an open pit, dump stations, haul roads and ramps and is set up to simulate the daily activates of mine site machinery operations.

Mr Thomas said the company was still awaiting final council approvals, but believed the training facility would be open for business by the end of the year. As well as providing training to gain nationally recognised tickets for mining operations, the centre will enhance New Horizons’ services for those seeking National Occupational Health and Safety licences to operate plant for civil construction.

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7

Call to support training efforts A Mackay firm recognised for a strong commitment to apprenticeships says it’s investing in the industry’s future. Haynes Mechanical director Alan Haynes is a strong advocate of the need for the mining and engineering sector to commit to training, including during the tough times. Haynes Mechanical, which focuses on heavy equipment maintenance for Bowen Basin coal operations, recently won the “regional skills capabilities development” category of the Mackay Area Industry Network (MAIN) Chairman’s Industry Awards. The award recognises a strong investment in training, with the Haynes Mechanical workshop in Mackay employing 20 apprentice heavy mobile equipment fitters. The business also hosts apprentices from other companies, particularly mine sites, to give them experience in areas such as engine rebuilds to complete training blocks.

Mr Haynes sees such contributions as an investment in the industry’s future and urged large clients to make a conscious effort to support supply businesses that demonstrated a commitment to apprenticeships and trainee programs. “Every time the industry picks up, especially the mining industry, we’re always short of tradesmen,” he said. “The only way we get them is if we train them ourselves. “If they stay with us or go elsewhere, they’re still in the workforce. “We’re not just working and supplying a service to the industry - we will train and show we are proactive.” Mr Haynes is particularly proud of the fact that he was able to weather the recent downturn without cutting staff.

Apprentice Jason Heinrich with director Alan Haynes at the Haynes Mechanical Mackay workshop. Photo: Lauren Reed

“We had to go out and shop for work to keep our guys working, but we never laid anyone off in six hard months,” he said. Mr Haynes said he was presently reviewing

Companies sign up for Abbot Point rail link Site work is expected to begin near Moranbah in April for the $1.1 billion Goonyella-to-Abbot Point (GAP) project after the State Government recently announced an agreement on the rail link with two coal companies. QR Network recently agreed commercial principles with foundation coal company customers Lake Vermont Resources and Bowen Central Coal (a Vale-Aquila joint venture) for the project, which Premier Anna Bligh described as “the Suez Canal” of the central Queensland coal industry. “We are getting ahead of the demand for this infrastructure and the fact that two commercial companies have signed up means that what has been negotiated by QR is a reasonable and sustainable deal,” she said. “I encourage other coal companies to get on board quickly. This project will support the $845 million expansion at the Abbot Point coal terminal, which is under way and committed to by coal companies.” The project includes the 69km Northern Missing Link, connecting the Goonyella coal rail system to the Newlands rail system, as well as upgrades to the Newlands system to give the line a capacity of 50 million tonnes per annum. Ms Bligh said the completion date for the project was targeted for January 2012 and approximately 500 new jobs were expected to be created in the construction industry alone. While the Queensland Resources Council has welcomed the commitment to the GAP project, chief executive Michael Roche called on the government to review

the commercial framework involved. Formal negotiations began in February 2008. “After all that time only two small companies have signed up – that might point to the need to think about whether this is the best model to use for the future,” Mr Roche said. “As Queensland Rail looks to other significant investments we want to ensure that the government has satisfied itself there wasn’t an element of gouging monopoly rents out of the process. “What has been put to us by some companies is that the rate of return set by Queensland Rail was way in excess of what could be justified by way of the level of risk.” A QR spokeswoman said the organisation was in discussions with other companies and would continue to work closely with all interested parties on the GAP project. “QR Network is establishing a commercial basis for sustainable investment in major projects for the long term,” she said. “This is important given the scale of investment required and the significant commercial risks involved.” The State Government also recently announced the beginning of environmental investigations into a proposed $1.25 billion harbour development at Abbot Point, north of Bowen. North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation proposes to develop a new protected harbour on 320ha of reclaimed land.

60 applications for apprenticeships including about 10 from people recently laid off from other firms.

Among Haynes Mechanical’s strengths in training is the fact it employs a safety officer on site. Mr Haynes said it also offered apprentices experience in all areas of machinery building, including electrical work, boiler making and painting. “They work on a range of equipment - from mine-site pump units and lighting plants through to Caterpillar dozers and dump trucks,” he said. Mr Haynes said the business managed to retain about 70 per cent of those it had trained after their apprenticeships were complete. Haynes Mechanical has a 120-strong workforce in the Bowen Basin, including tradesmen working on mine sites. “We run about 40 people in the workshop and the rest of the guys are out running around the countryside,” Mr Haynes said. In addition to the firm’s recent award, Mr Haynes

said it had picked up three gongs at the MAIN Apprentice and Trainee Awards last year – when Anton McCann was named Apprentice of the Year, Dean Murray named Mentor of the Year and Ziecke Youngberry named First-year Apprentice of the Year. * Other 2009 MAIN Chairman’s Industry Award winners included G & S Engineering Services (the overall winner, winner of the regional development award, the environment award and of the education/training award), Capricorn Sandstone Quarries (emerging export award), Diversified Mining Services/Anderson Group (regional export award), Mastermyne (safety award), Minemax (innovation award) and Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek Coal Mine (community development award).


8

NEWS

November 2009 |

The Mining Advocate

Birthday bash a crowd pleaser Photos: Erica Smith

Dysart’s Big Birthday Bash attracted more than 3500 people to enjoy an afternoon of family activities followed by a concert starring charttopping Australian Idol singer Jessica Mauboy. The 2009 bash marked the 35th anniversary of operations for the Saraji coal mine and the 30th anniversary for nearby Norwich Park as well as being part of Queensland’s 150th anniversary celebrations. The milestone anniversaries helped make the event the biggest such town party to date, Dysart Community Support Group community development officer Margaret McDowall said. “We had a tremendous response – it was really great,” Mrs McDowall said The entertainment included a street parade, skate competition, Madagascar Live show, amusement rides and dance displays. Dysart Hardware won first prize in the parade with its float, while the local hospital’s swine ‘flu-themed effort was named most entertaining float and Dysart Daycare earned the people’s choice award. Mrs McDowall said there had been a great response to the evening concert featuring Mark Seymour and Mauboy. “Jessica was just so popular – she was just so lovely,” she said. The Dysart Community Support Group organised the event in partnership with the BMA Saraji and Norwich Park mines More than $80,000 was raised for local not-for-profit community r. groups, including the RACQ Central Queensland Rescue Helicopter. Norwich Park mine general manager Gus Gomes commended the community for their support for the event and fundraising efforts. “It’s great to see the local businesses, community groups and residents work together to support these worthwhile events,” he said. ed “The celebration was about each and every one of us, and recognised how far we have come as a community. community.”

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The Mining Advocate | November 2009

9

Dysart draws miner in for the long haul

CUT COSTS NOT TYRES.

Drill operator Leo Keith was among the long-serving employees honoured when the Saraji and Norwich Park operations recently marked milestone anniversaries.

Leo Keith (right) with fellow 35-year Saraji mine veteran Tom Mohi.

Like many young men, Leo Keith initially planned to work a handful of years at a central Queensland coal mine to lay a financial foundation for his future. Thirty-five years on, he remains in Dysart, having worked at the town’s Saraji mine throughout its entire operating life as well as being involved in the site work required before its start-up. Mr Keith was among more than 200 workers recognised for significant periods of service with the Saraji and Norwich Park mines when the operations celebrated their 35th and 30th anniversaries recently. Mine operator BMA said this included three employees who had achieved 35 years’ service and 56 who had achieved 30 years’ service with the mines. Mr Keith, now 65, said he started work in the area one or two years before the Saraji mine opened. “When I started off I was working for John Holland putting in the (water) pipeline to Dysart and Saraji mine,” he said. “After I finished working for them I got a job with Barclays in the construction of the mine. “I was working with them to ’74 and when I finished I got on with Utah (Development Company) at the new mine. “Originally I was going to work there five to 10 years to get a nest egg behind me to put a deposit on a house – it extended from there. “I finished up getting married and having kids and Dysart was a pretty good place to bring up kids.” His was a familiar story in Dysart, he said.

Photo: Erica Smith

“A lot just came here for a few years or whatever and finished up liking the place and hanging on,” Mr Keith said. Mr Keith began work as a trades assistant at the mine’s carpentry shop and moved on to become a haul truck operator before his present role on the overburden drills, preparing holes for the blast crews. The Saraji operation has increased considerably since the early years and Mr Keith said Dysart had also been growing, including through a recent spurt of housing development. “When I had just moved here it was basically demountable dongas – there was just a heap of them all around the place and the businesses and everything were just operating out of them,” he said. Mr Keith and wife Gail have three children – Aiden, Brenton and Shaylene, aged from 19 to 22. Mrs Keith and the children moved to Mackay about 12 years ago to access increased services for Shaylene, who has Down Syndrome, meaning Mr Keith divides his time between Dysart and the coast. He concedes the pay is a big part of what has kept him there, in addition to liking his role on the overburden drills, which he has stuck with for more than 25 years. But most of the faces around him have changed over the years. “I’ve seen people come and go,” Mr Keith said. “Just looking around the other day, there are less there that I do know and more that I don’t know.” The Saraji mine now employs just over 600 people while the Norwich Park operation employs more than 400 workers.

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November 2009 |

The Mining Advocate

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Townsville Regional Capacity

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

New plant boosts steel capabilities A company preparing to open a major North Queensland galvanising factory believes it will help the region win key project work. A $10 million galvanising plant under construction in Townsville will “take the handbrake off ” the local steel fabrication sector, according to its owner. Pollards Galvanizing is shifting the focus of its business from Cairns to Townsville with the development of the new factory set to open in Stuart in January. Managing director Steve Pollard said it was also a step up for the business, with the new plant boasting improved technology and greater capacity

than the Cairns galvanising facility it is replacing. He was receiving calls daily from potential customers asking when the new plant would open, he said. “There’s been a handbrake on industry with the capacity that’s available and that’s not going to be the case any longer,” Mr Pollard said. “I think having the facility we’re putting in for Townsville will open up opportunities for the fabrication industry to compete in big projects up

Pollards Galvanizing managing director Stephen Pollard and plant supervisor Wayne Barnsley inside the new Townsville facility. Photo: Stewart McLean

and down the east coast of Queensland. “What I can do in Townsville with the new facilities is identical to whatever the biggest facilities can do in Sydney or Brisbane. “The handbrake is off from the galvanising perspective - I just hope that facilitates some of these companies in the region winning more of that (major project) work.” The business name will change from Pollards Galvanizing to Australian Professional Galvanizing from December 1. The Townsville galvanising plant features three 25m-long acid preparation tanks and a 25m-long caustic tank as well as a 2.8m deep kettle – allowing large items to be galvanised in a single dip. Mr Pollard said they would able to galvanise lengths of steel up to 20m long and frames up to 5.5m wide. “We can process up to 4000 tonnes a month and have the ability to lift up to 10 tonnes in a single lift,” he said. “We have our own extendable

trailers and B-doubles for the logistics side of the industry.” The business – started by Mr Pollard’s father Ron in 1966 – has previously been centred around a Cairns-based galvanizing factory with a depot in Townsville. But Mr Pollard said the Cairns factory was due for refurbishment and it made more sense to put capital into a new Townsville plant than to outlay more on the far northern site. “When we looked at the market, the market is not in Cairns it’s in Townsville,” he said. Even with a Cairns base, he said 40 per cent of the company’s work over the past five years had come out of Townsville – which was home to key clients such as Atlantic Civil Products and Split Set Mining Systems. The city offered a bigger general fabrication industry than Cairns, good access to the north-western mining region and port facilities, he said. Mr Pollard said the company was keen to pursue

more Lavarack Barracks redevelopment work and galvanising jobs stemming from LNG developments at Gladstone. He said the Cairns galvanising operation would close, however the company planned to expand its manufacturing operations there. “We’ll clean up (the defunct galvanising facility) in the next 12 months and see where the market sits,” Mr Pollard said. “If the demand is there, we might set Cairns up for some centrifugal galvanising.” Mr Pollards described his business as the longest running and highest capacity galvanising business in North Queensland, as well as being the only Australian-owned one and the only member of the Galvanizers Association of Australia. The Townsville plant was expected to initially employ 39 staff, Mr Pollard said. The Townsville Regional Engineering Cluster (TREC) and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations have assisted in training new workers prior to the plant’s commissioning through a “buddy up” process. The new workers will have one month of “buddy up” onthe-job training from workers at Pollards’ Cairns facility. Pollards Galvanizing Townsville general manager Andrew Dippenaar said this would allow the Townsville factory to hit the ground running rather than going through lengthy training after start-up. TREC general manager David Wylie said this type of program was vital to ensure a smooth entry into the marketplace for a local company.

Guam links hold promise Stacy Wilson from Queensland Nickel’s Yabulu refinery with the hard hats bound for recycling. Photo: Stewart McLean

Hats off to recycling Hundreds of hard hats that once protected workers at Townsville’s Yabulu refinery are destined for a new life as park furniture, speed bumps and other outdoor items. Queensland Nickel’s environment team is sending about 500 helmets to Victorian recycling firm Replas after appealing to employees to hand in outdated headwear bearing former refinery owner BHP Billiton’s branding. “Our safety facilitators were involved in the purchase of new helmets and they came to us and said ‘what are we going to

do with the old helmets, can we recycle them?’,” Queensland Nickel senior environmental scientist Robyn Stoney said. After some research, the environment team turned to Replas (Repeat Plastics Australia) as many of its products were already being used in Townsville through council projects, she said. “NQX transport has offered to deliver the hardhats to Melbourne at no cost to support the project and Replas will be recycling them at no cost to us,” Ms Stoney said.

North Queensland businesspeople have reported a good response during a recent trade delegation to the western Pacific nation of Guam and organisers are considering another such mission next year. The initiative aims to help Townsville industry capture some of the work stemming from a multibillion-dollar development boom linked to a raft of large-scale US military projects in Guam. Townsville Enterprise economic development general manager Dr Lisa McDonald said the delegation had been led by Townsville Mayor Les Tyrell, who ensured the city was “front of mind” with government officials. “Our businesses received a warm welcome from the Guam business community with many contacts made during one-on-one meetings and networking functions,” she said. “The delegates made some great contacts, with many returning to follow up on strong leads. “Forging relationships with the companies and government departments who will be performing much of the redevelopment of Guam was our major priority on this visit. “The government departments we met have

11

indicated that they’re willing to help our companies negotiate the red tape aspects of doing business in Guam.” She said also Townsville Enterprise was looking to work with the Queensland Government-sponsored not-for-profit association, TropLinks, in the Guam campaign. TropLinks is a network of research bodies, companies, industry groups and economic development organisations that are working together to build Australia’s share of the global market for tropical expertise. Aurecon office manager for Townsville, Peter Douglass, said his fact-finding visit to Guam as part of the delegation had resulted in new opportunities for the company. “As a result of my visit up to Guam my company is on the appropriate list to be requested for proposal submissions,” he said. “We’re consulting engineers and we want to participate in the design services provided for the infrastructure facilities. “The facilities they have planned are far reaching and significant in size, covering all disciplines of engineering.”


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Mount Isa Regional Capacity

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

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Leak halts zinc output A north-west Queensland mine has stepped up maintenance and other work during an enforced break in concentrate flows to port. A month after a slurry pipeline leak in remote north-west Queensland, zinc miner MMG Century was continuing work on a bypass to allow production to resume at its Lawn Hill concentrator. General manager John Lamb said repairs were ongoing in the first week of November and, with testing still to be conducted, he was unable to say when the operation would be able to start pumping product through to its Karumba port facilities for export. The initial breach in the operation’s 304km pipeline occurred on October 5, when 300 tonnes of zinc slurry containing 160 tonnes of zinc were released on to Floraville cattle station. Pressure testing after the initial repairs resulted in a water leakage about 50m from the first breach site, prompting the company to opt for a 1.2km bypass to avoid

the suspect stretch of pipeline. Mr Lamb said MMG Century was still awaiting metallurgical test results to determine the cause of the failures, which both involved a section of pipe installed in 2003. The company has been unable to transport its product to port since the breach, however Mr Lamb said the impact on customers had been lessened by the fact that storage facilities in Karumba had been holding an unusually large stockpile of concentrate for export. The break in product transport had allowed MMG Century to conduct maintenance and training at its Karumba facilities, he said. The company had also brought forward a scheduled November shutdown by five weeks, using the unplanned downtime at its concentrator plant to carry out major work on the SAG (semi-

An aerial view of the spill from the Century pipeline.

autogenous grinding) mill motor and flotation cells. On the ore production side, Mr Lamb said the mine was replenishing its ROM (run-ofmine) stockpiles prior to the wet season after allowing them to become very lean as a result of a “just in time” strategy used to cut costs during the worst of the global financial crisis. “We’re also taking the chance to use some of the mining fleet to do some environmental works building a new sediment control dam and capping our waste rock

Xstrata Mount Isa Mines has opened a new $4.5 million accommodation precinct, Thilimarri Place, in Oban Rd, Mount Isa. The complex includes nine duplexes - each containing two three-bedroom units built with environmentally sound features such as energy efficiency and passive cooling, compact fluorescent bulbs, reverse cycle refrigerative airconditioning, greywater diverter systems and water-efficient toilets and showers. Xstrata Copper North Queensland chief operating officer Steve de Kruiff said the project was a sign of the company’s strengthening relationship with the people of the Kalkadoon community and a testament to the efforts of the company’s indigenous trainees. The trainees contributed to the development of the accommodation complex through Xstrata Mount Isa Mines’ Structured Training Employment Program. “From undertaking landscaping and gardening to the setting up of all 18 units, furnishing and cleaning, our trainees were involved in every stage throughout the project,” Mr de Kruijff said. He said the name Thilimarri represented the gidgee tree, which played a significant role in Kalkadoon community and family life.

seven-day trading into the city, she said. “The sentiment is definite – they are opposed to the introduction of Sunday trading for reasons including family and religion as well as the potential detriment to small businesses in the city,” she said. Miss O’Callaghan said chamber president Brett Peterson’s recent comment in The Mining Advocate in favour of sevenday trading had been made as a consumer before the organisation had been able to determine the stance of members. National Retail Association executive director Gary Black said a University of Southern Queensland survey of almost 200 people had found overwhelming support for Mount Isa Sunday trading among consumers.

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tickling in people’s throats – rather than a significant health threat. “Really the people we wanted to make sure were aware of it were people with respiratory problems,” he said. The emissions were created by the large volume of concentrate about 70,000 tonnes - which had built up as a result of some issues with the storage shed reclaimer and the use of a smaller transfer vessel while the MV Wunma was in dry dock, he said.

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Sunday trade battle brews The Mount Isa Chamber of Commerce will argue against Sunday trading when an application to allow the city’s major retailers to open seven days a week is heard in December. Chamber manager Patricia O’Callaghan said the group had only learned of the National Retail Association application for extended hours quite recently and had moved quickly to gauge the business community’s view. A phone survey of 40 businesses selected at random across industry sectors had found that almost half opposed Sunday trading, while 44 per cent were in favour and 7 per cent undecided. An email survey of chamber members – answered by six people - found 83 per cent were against the introduction of

dump,” Mr Lamb said. Meanwhile Mr Lamb said sulphur dioxide levels had returned to normal in the vicinity of the Karumba storage shed after the stockpile build-up caused some emissions. The company had increased monitoring to four times a day at 15 sites around Karumba and issued public health information as a result of the gas emissions. Mr Lamb said the levels released had been quite low, describing it as a “nuisance level” - producing an odour and some

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INDUSTRY UPDATE - COAL AND GAS

November 2009 |

Lake Lindsay milestone

linking the Moura-Gladstone line with the Aldoga industrial precinct, north of Gladstone.

Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll (centre) joins employees outside the new Capcoal plant.

Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll recently marked the completion of the company’s $850 million Lake Lindsay growth project by officially opening the new module of the operation’s Coal Handling Processing Plant (CHPP). Construction started on the Lake Lindsay growth project in 2006, with a scope of works including the CHPP and a new overland conveyor to accommodate a major expansion of open-cut mining within Anglo’s Capcoal complex, near Middlemount in central Queensland. “Approximately 75 million tonnes of saleable reserves are contained within the Lake Lindsay mining area and this addition will extend the mine’s life span by 20 years,” Ms Carroll said. When peak mining activities are reached in 2010, Lake Lindsay’s saleable production will be 5 million tonnes of coal per annum.

$1.25 billion Alpha power plant A $1.25 billion coal-fired power station incorporating carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies is proposed to complement the China First coal project near Alpha in central Queensland. Project proponent Galilee Power, a fully owned subsidiary of Waratah Coal, said 1000 jobs would be created during construction of the power station and more than 60 permanent positions once it was operating. Waratah Coal, owned by businessman Clive Palmer’s private company Mineralogy, has announced plans for the $7.5 billion China First coal project, which is expected to create

6000 jobs during construction and 1500 during operation. Waratah Coal chief executive officer Peter Lynch said Galilee Power proposed to construct and operate a 900-megawatt coal-fired plant incorporating CCS technologies and had launched a formal feasibility study into the project. “The power station will utilise reject coal from Waratah Coal’s tenements as feedstock,” he said.

Moura link on track Queensland Co-ordinator-General Colin Jensen has signed off on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a Queensland Rail project

The Mining Advocate

Hughenden project changes hands

Carpentaria Exploration has reached a sale agreement with privately Premier Anna Bligh said the Moura owned company ResCo Projects for Link and Aldoga Rail Yard were key Carpentaria’s Hughenden coal project, pieces of infrastructure in the central situated towards the northern margin Queensland regional coal supply chain. of the Galilee Basin. Carpentaria “The project has a capital value of $500 recently announced that its wholly million and will require a construction owned subsidiary FTB (Qld), which workforce peaking at 350, and around holds the Hughenden coal project, 700 new jobs will be created when would be vended the new facilities into a new Water open,” she said. Trucks company that is Construction being formed by is expected to ResCo Projects to begin in late operate as a coal 2010/early 2011, exploration and subject to a formal mining company. development In consideration approval by for the sale of Gladstone www.equipmentplacement.com.au FTB to the Regional new company, Council and the Carpentaria will be issued shares and Department of Infrastructure and hold 20 per cent of the new company Planning, as well as finalisation of some as well as receiving a cash sum to cover operational works approvals. past expenditure.

Drilling contract awarded Comet Ridge has contracted Atlas Drilling Co to deploy its Atlas Rig 1 for an eight-well core-hole program in the Galilee Basin. The company was recently awarded two large permits to enable exploration drilling for coal seam gas on tenements located about 500km north-west of Gladstone. The permits cover a combined area of about 13,000sq km “We anticipate mobilisation of the rig in November and look forward to working with the team from Atlas Drilling over the next several months, which will be a busy period for both companies,” Comet Ridge managing director Tor McCaul said. Technical work undertaken by MBA Petroleum Consultants indicates significant gas-in-place potential of 36 trillion cubic feet within the two Galilee Basin blocks.

Hancock gaining momentum Hancock Prospecting continues to gain momentum on its Alpha Coal and Kevin’s Corner projects near Alpha, in central Queensland. The draft terms of reference for Kevin’s Corner have just been released, while an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the mine, rail and port infrastructure associated with the Alpha project is well under way . Kevin’s Corner currently has 1.5 billion tonnes of indicated and inferred resources, with the target for measured, indicated and inferred resources set at 2.5 billion tonnes by year end. The timeline for commencement of construction for the Alpha Coal project is 2011, with first shipments of high quality thermal coal expected in 2013. A company spokeswoman said the Kevin’s Corner project was in planning to meet the same targeted timelines.

2010 Xstrata Mount Isa Mining Expo Breaking Ground in Mining Xstrata Entert ainment Centre - Buchanan Park 13, 14 & 15 April 2010 Showcasing the latest in mining tools, trade and technology in one of the richest mineral provinces in Australia “Celebrating 15 years of Working with Industry”

Registrations now open “A very worthwhile investment and one that resulted in a number of business leads that led to several actual sales. Will definitely be back again in 2010” Yancy McDonald - Fire Lift Engineering For all registration enquiries please contact the Chamber office or visit the Chamber website Phone (07) 4743 9881 Fa x (07) 4743 7266 Email chamber@michamber.com.au Website www.michamber.com.au


INDUSTRY UPDATE - COAL AND GAS

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

Green light for Middlemount

directly with international steel mills had seen its exports almost treble since 2000. Wesfarmers Resources managing director Stewart Butel said sales volumes from Curragh mine had shown remarkable resilience during the global financial crisis.

Macarthur Coal recently announced that the mining lease for its Middlemount Mine project had been granted. The project is being developed by Middlemount Coal - a joint venture between Macarthur Coal and the Noble Group. Felix takeover approved Construction of the coal handling and The Yanzhou Coal Mining Company preparation plant (CHPP) and other has received Federal Government site infrastructure will generate up to approval for its 160 jobs during $3.54 billion Service peak activity, takeover of Felix Trucks with the CHPP Resources. The expected to be acquisition is completed during conditional upon 2010. Mining the Chinese miner operations are complying with expected to start in undertakings the 2010 calendar including listing year to supply its Australian ROM coal for subsidiary Yancoal commissioning of www.equipmentplacement.com.au Australia on the CHPP, which the Australian will create about Securities Exchange by the end of 2012. 80 full-time jobs through Leighton Felix shareholders are due to vote on Contractors. the proposed takeover at a meeting on December 8. The company’s assets Electricity from mine methane include the Yarrabee open-cut coal mine Energy Developments has officially 40km north-west of Blackwater and opened its $60 million, 45-megawatt the Minerva open-cut coal mine 45km power station at Anglo Coal Australia’s south of Emerald. Moranbah North Mine. The plant uses waste coal mine gas to New longwall system online produce base-load power to the grid, Vale’s Carborough Downs coal mine with the effect of reducing greenhouse near Moranbah in central Queensland gas emissions by more than 1.3 million has started producing coal with its new tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, the $130 million longwall mining system, equivalent of taking 330,000 cars off the installed as part of a $401 million road. Speaking at the official opening, expansion of the mine from a bord and Anglo American chief executive pillar operation. Cynthia Carroll said this was the Vale Australian coal operations director second time Anglo Coal and Energy Michael Mapp recently congratulated Developments had come together to the Carborough team and expansion reduce emissions, with another power project personnel for their efforts in plant previously opened at German successfully and safely bringing the Creek in 2007. longwall online.

Export accolades for Curragh Blackwater’s Wesfarmers Curragh mine has won the minerals and energy category at the 20th annual Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards. Trade Minister Stephen Robertson said the operation’s strategy of dealing

Korean group buys into Bandanna A Korean energy group has acquired a 10 per cent stake in Bandanna Energy in a deal that will provide the Queensland company with $22.5 million to advance its coal projects. Senior managing director of the Samtan

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15

In-pit innovation

The in-pit crushing and conveying system in position at Clermont Mine.

In a Rio Tinto Coal Australia first, Clermont Mine’s in-pit crushing and conveying system (IPCC) is about to be put to work to prepare the mine for its first load of coal in 2010. While open-cut coal mines traditionally use a truck and shovel method to remove overburden, general manager construction Dave Lamb said Clermont Mine had posed a challenge as the coal reserve was buried under 100m to 250m of overburden. The IPCC system provided a cost-effective solution. Mr Lamb said the IPCC would enable the operation to crush and transport up to 12,500 tonnes of overburden per hour,. Wet commissioning and performance testing of the innovative system is under way. It is expected to save Clermont Mine more than 35 per cent of its haul truck running costs per year when operational.

energy and resources development division, Park Soon IL, said the Korean company was keen to extend its energy interests in Australia and was impressed with the quality of Bandanna’s Bowen Basin thermal coal assets. Bandanna’s projects include the Arcadia, Arcturus, Dingo West and Springsure Creek tenements.

Downer wins more blasting work Downer EDI has secured a five-year contract worth more than $160 million with Ensham Resources to provide blasting services to its open-cut coal operation. Downer EDI managing director and chief executive officer Geoff Knox said the contract with Ensham further

strengthened the company’s presence in central Queensland, where its mining division was now operating at 11 sites. It provides blasting services to eight of those sites. “The Ensham project comes on the back of an $88 million, two-year prestrip contract with BMA Norwich Park, also in central Queensland,” Mr Knox said.

ASX listing for MetroCoal MetroCoal has released its prospectus in preparation for a listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in early December. MetroCoal - 79 per cent owned by Metallica Minerals - holds coal exploration tenements covering about 4000sq km in the Surat Basin.

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16

INDUSTRY UPDATE

November 2009 |

‘Outstanding’ result

Miners dominate NT awards Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and Bootu Creek manganese mine operator OM (Manganese) both came up trumps in the Northern Territory’s annual Chief Minister’s Export and Industry Awards. ERA was named the NT Exporter of the Year, as well as taking out the minerals and energy award category, while OMM won the emerging exporter award. It was the second year running that each company claimed those honours. Other category winners included Australian Skills Training (services award), Linetec Engineering (small to medium manufacturer award) and Alice Springs Helicopters (small business award).

Drilling at the Roper Bar project.

Western Desert Resources has announced a maiden resource estimate of 90 million tonnes for the Northern Territory iron ore project at Roper Bar, on the western edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Managing director Norm Gardner described this as an outstanding result for the company’s first full season of exploration at Roper Bar. Western Desert and joint venture partner IMEA Exploration and Development of Australia – a subsidiary of Japan’s giant Itochu Corporation hold the iron rights to more than 240sq km of prospective ground in the area. The JORC-compliant inferred resource estimate relates to “Area D” of the tenements, a deposit shown to contain hematitic ironstone grading at 37.2 per cent iron, with low phosphorus and alumina levels. “This means Area D mineralisation can be upgraded through simple gravityseparation methods into an ore that can be delivered directly to steelmakers,” Mr Gardner said. The resource lay close to the surface and was open to the north and west, meaning it could be mined by cost-effective stripping methods, he said.

Silver Hill shines Conquest Mining has announced a resource upgrade for the Silver Hill deposit at its Mt Carlton project, which lies between Collinsville and Charters Towers in North Queensland. The upgrade follows a 7250m drilling program designed to improve understanding of the Silver Hill project and the broader Mt Carlton region. The main deposit at Silver Hill, known as V2, is now estimated to contain a

23.8 million-tonne resource at 1.77 g/t gold, 26 g/t silver and 0.28 per cent copper. In addition, the results have confirmed the presence of a discrete high-grade silver zone at Area 39, which is now estimated to contain 16 million ounces of silver, based on a metal value cut off $20 per tonne. Conquest managing director John Terpu said a recent $65 million capital raising would allow construction at the project to commence in early 2010.

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Good results at Balcooma Kagara has announced high-grade results from an underground diamond drilling program recently completed on the Balcooma copper deposit, near Greenvale in North Queensland. The results included 15.9m at 7.9 per cent copper, 16.1m at 4.9 per cent copper and 7.7m at 8.1 per cent copper, executive director Joe Treacy said. “The underground drilling and development at Balcooma continues to enhance the prospectivity of both the copper and polymetallic deposits and the potential for significant additions to both will be tested in the coming months,” he said.

New number for Kokomo Metallica Minerals expects to release a revised resource estimate in November for the Kokomo nickel-cobalt laterite deposit – a component of the company’s flagship NORNICO project in North Queensland. The company flagged a likely increase

The Mining Advocate

in the size of the Kokomo resource, as significant mineralisation was identified outside the current resource boundary, and expected that the levels of confidence in the resource would also increase. The current ( January 2009) Kokomo nickel-cobalt laterite inferred and indicated mineral resource estimate stands at 12.2 million tonnes at 0.67 per cent nickel and 0.12 per cent cobalt. Metallica has recently applied for a 3600ha mining lease over the Kokomo deposit, north of Greenvale.

Drill effort escalates Adelaide Resources says it has stepped up exploration at its Rover Project south-west of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, with drilling now scheduled to continue uninterrupted until the onset of the wet season The company said in late October it planned to start drilling soon at the Rover 1 prospect, located on the southern boundary of the project, to confirm whether the bonanzagrade gold and copper mineralisation intersected by Westgold Resources in an adjacent tenement ran on to the Adelaide Resources exploration licence. This follows completion of the last of four new holes at the Rover 4 deposit.

Spellbinding discovery Ivanhoe Australia has announced the discovery of a high-grade system, dubbed “Little Wizard”, within its Merlin molybdenum and rhenium project outside Cloncurry. The zone has a current estimated inferred resource of 15,000 tonnes at 13 per cent molybdenum, 160g/t rhenium, 1.7 per cent copper and 0.8 g/t gold. “Given the high value of Little Wizard at current metal prices, it is expected that this bonanza discovery will have a significant impact on the early Merlin mine project cash flow,” the company said.

Contact RUSSELL HOCKINGS www.hastingsdeering.com.au


INDUSTRY UPDATE

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

Chief executive officer Dr Paul Messenger said Cape Alumina would Syndicated Metals has reported positive now start work on the project’s bankable findings from the first batch of assay feasibility study. results from a 3000m reverse circulation “In the meantime, the most drilling program at the Barbara copper comprehensive environmental study project, about 50km north-east of ever undertaken in the region continues Mount Isa. and preparation of the project’s Assay results received for the first three Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) holes at Barbara North Lode include is progressing well,” Dr Messenger said. 9m at 5.25 per cent copper and 0.45g/t The review had sparked proposed gold, 13m at 1.59 per cent copper and refinements to the 0.10g/t gold and project layout and Water 5m at 1.17 per mode of operation, Trucks cent copper. expected to Results to date generate significant supported the gains in technical potential for an and economic open-pittable efficiencies while sulphide resource minimising at Barbara North environmental Lode - held in impacts, he said. joint venture with These included www.equipmentplacement.com.au Mount Isa Metals the use of in-pit - in addition conveyors instead to the existing of dump trucks, use of an overland JORC resource at Barbara South Lode, conveyor to port and relocation of the Syndicated said. mine infrastructure and accommodation A maiden indicated and inferred village to Port Musgrave instead of mineral resource estimate for the Pisolite Hill. project’s South Lode comprising 2.4 Cape Alumina expects to complete the million tonnes at 1.6 per cent copper, EIS by the first half of next year and with 38,000 tonnes of contained copper, be in a position to start construction was announced in October 2008. in 2012, subject to the outcome of the bankable feasibility study and receipt of Exco lodges EIS all regulatory approvals.

Outlook bright for Barbara

Exco Resources has submitted the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its Cloncurry copper project in north-west Queensland. Managing director Michael Anderson said submission of the EIS was an important milestone in pursuit of the relevant approvals for the project and was in line with the Exco’s aim to be in production from 2011. He said the definitive feasibility study for the Cloncurry copper project was well under way

Progress on Pisolite Hills Cape Alumina’s proposed Pisolite Hills bauxite mine on western Cape York has taken another step towards development with completion of a detailed review of the pre-feasibility study.

$6 million exploration push Six drill holes have been completed in the first two months of a $6 million exploration program at MMG’s Century mine in north-west Queensland. The 18-month program will test several geological targets on the mine lease and adjacent exploration leases to identify new zinc deposits as future feed for the Century processing operations. Century executive general manager exploration Steve Ryan said the current defined deposit at Century took the operation’s mine life through to about 2015. “But to maximise the potential of our processing plant at Lawn Hill and port facilities at Karumba it is important we make every effort to identify any

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17

Training excellence

Mining Industry Skills Centre chief executive Derek Hunter with Metalliferous Trainee of the Year Rebecca Sinnott from Queensland Alumina.

Gladstone’s Queensland Alumina operation, Xstrata Copper and BMA were among the big winners at this year’s Mining Industry Skills Centre Training Awards. More than 250 people attended the recent awards night in Brisbane, which showcased leading work by companies, trainers, individuals, trainees and apprentices in the Australian resources industry. Queensland Alumina took home a “highly commended” award in the category for Leading Processes and Practices – Medium to Large Company, while employee Rebecca Sinnott won the prestigious Metalliferous Trainee of the Year Award. BMA Saraji mine electrical apprentice Alex King from MRAEL in Moranbah was named Apprentice of the Year while Goonyella Riverside mine blast trainee Brendan Ridgley was named Coal Trainee of the Year. Geoff Gray, from Xstrata Copper in Mount Isa, won the individual award for excellence while Ernest Henry Mining topped the category for Leading Training Processes and Practices of the Year – Small to Medium Company.

potential future ore supply nearby,” Mr Ryan said. The program represents the first significant investment by MMG in exploration work in the Century area since China Minmetals purchased the asset from OZ Minerals in June this year.

Samples shipping out A direct-shipping-ore bulk sampling program has started at the Arruwurra rock phosphate deposit within Minemakers’ Wonarah project in the

Northern Territory. At an expected mined grade of 35-36 per cent and with impurities at very low levels, the phosphate product was likely to compare very favourably with the highest quality available elsewhere in the world, the company said. Bulk samples requested by potential long-term off take customers will be shipped from Darwin in December and from a second stage of excavation if required in early 2010. Minemakers expects to be in production from Wonarah in the middle of 2010.


18

BETWEEN SHIFTS

November 2009 |

Battle of the Mines

The Mining Advocate

PHOTOS: Roslyn Budd

Cloncurry Showgrounds

Ernest Henry Mining team supporters Cam McClymont (EHM), Jaymi Abdy and Lachy Pavy (EHM).

Tamara Wipaki, Shardin Carter and Emily Gall (supporters for CuDeco and EHM teams).

MICO Devils supporter Peta MacRae with husband and team manager, Mal MacRae.

Bruce Thorley, Zaria Shaw and Kingston Thorley (Young Guns supporters).

The Moore family - Heather, Belinda (George Fisher Mine), David, Cameron (George Fisher Mine) and Donald - get behind Zinc Power.

Tanya Langdon and Trudy Eastburn (Young Guns supporters).

NQ Rescue Sportsman’s Dinner

PHOTOS: Roslyn Budd

Overlander Hotel, Mount Isa

Carl Barchert, Kelvin Ryan, Adrian Poole and Shawn Lions (all from North West Crane Hire).

Sporting stars Scott Prince, Lote Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor with auctioneer Keith Douglas (third from left).

Trish O’Callaghan (Mount Isa Chamber of Commerce) with Jeremy Murphy.

Anthony Sandford (Regional Pacific Airlines) and Alan Pritchard.

Mel Cox (Xstrata)

Luke Hemgst and Karlie Rose (Harvey Norman).


BETWEEN SHIFTS

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

Mining 2009 Resources Convention

19

PHOTOS: Fiona Harding

Hilton Brisbane Hotel

Kaye Farrelly (Mining People International), Brad Thorp (Mining People International) and John O’Neill (Amdel).

Claire Stannard (Platform Communications), Andrew Somers (Innov-X) and Kristy Danby (Platform Communications).

Gerard Briody (IMC), Dave Thomas (IMC), Garry Benson (IMC) and Tim Mortimer (CS Energy).

Lynda Daley (Newmont Asia Pacific) and Wendy Hora (Intierra).

Stephen Everett (Australian Solomons Gold) with Chris Baker (Colonial First State).

Rob Murdoch (Austex Mining) and Dougal Henderson (Macquarie Bank).

Moranbah corporate bowls night

PHOTOS: Erica Smith

Moranbah Bowls Club

Trudy Gersekowski (Lifeline), Rhonda Watts (Lifeline), Mitch Turner (Moorevale Earthmoving), Jim Markham (Moorevale Earthmoving), Ash Beaton (Moorevale Earthmoving) and Ida King (Lifeline).

Moorevale Earthmoving workers supporting Pink Ribbon Day - Don McLeod, Mick King and Brett Durmsford.

Judy and Peter Tonna (Peabody Energy) and Gary Arrowsmith with Adam Robb, Wayne Fifield, Carol Stone and Gary Robb (all from Surelift).

Loretta Murray (Neville Sweetman Earthmoving - NSE), Mark Lowndes (Pearlstreet), Leannie David (NSE), Phil Boyd (Black Nugget), Kimberlee Swann (NSE), Wayne Cox (Goonyella Riverside), Cathy Storer (NSE) and Joe Aidulis (Goonyella Riverside).

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Tamari Gibbons, Frank Sacchi (Sacchi Concrete Construction), Reece Griffin (Moranbah Mini Earthmoving), Eli Kuka (Sacchi Concrete Construction), Chris Richards (Pearlstreet), Arthur Cooke (Pearlstreet), Mark Capra (Pearlstreet) and Michael Cooke (Mine Assist).

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BETWEEN SHIFTS

November 2009 |

Mackay Area Industry Network (MAIN) Chairmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Awards Night

The Mining Advocate

PHOTOS: Lauren Reed

Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre

Lizzie Dodd (Enterprise Connect) with Melissa Uren and Heather Sharp (both from the University of Newcastle).

Margaret Clegg, Leanne Wittenburg, Mark Towers, Alan Haynes, Ryan Haynes and Georgie Edwards (all from Haynes Mechanical).

Wendy and Patrick Cunningham (Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal).

Cassandra Hackett (Mining Technology Information Centre) and Hayley Graffunder (Pacific National Coal).

Wayne Hall, Peter Ray and Matt Loveday (all from Melco Engineering) with George Christensen (Mackay Regional Council) and Ian Gray (Melco Engineering).

Paul McDermott (compere) and Bill Champion (guest speaker, Rio Tinto).

Cairns Chamber of Commerce 100th birthday morning tea

PHOTOS: Romy Seigmann

The Pier Marketplace, Cairns

Bronwyn Voyce, Alex Pall and Gordon Dalziel (all from Westpac).

Graham Hunt (Events NQ) and Sandy Whyte (Cairns Chamber of Commerce).

Jeremy Blockey (Cairns Chamber of Commerce) and Ken Chapman (Skyrail).

Sandy Holmes and Roxy Voyce (both from the Cairns Chamber of Commerce).

Neil Moretto (Create) and Andrew Hayes (James Cook University).

Jessica Ginn (Shagri-la) and Stephanie Doyle (The Pier).


BETWEEN SHIFTS

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

North Queensland Economic Development Conference

21

PHOTOS: Stewart McLean

Mercure Inn, Townsville

Cr Frank Beveridge (Charters Towers Regional Council) and Peter Grunke (Worley Parsons).

Donnie Harris (Roberts Nehmer Mckee Lawyers) and Brian Arnold (NQ Small Business Development Centre).

Roger Kaus (Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries) and Gary Smiley (Manufacturing Skills Queensland).

Dr Richard Welters and Marc Brown (both from James Cook University).

Tracey Lines (Port of Townsville) and Lawrie Marfin (Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation).

Cr Phillip Alexander and Mayor Paul Woodhouse (Mckinlay Shire Council).

Big Birthday Bash concert

PHOTOS: Erica Smith

Centenary Park, Dysart

Jennie Fletcher with Jamey, 6, and Jemma, 8.

Desley Rapson, Val and Brian Gregg with Edna Wisely (Dysart).

Kerrod Harp (Dysart), Jane Harp (Dysart) and Amber Earl (Emerald).

Caroline and Darren Bailey with daughter Jorja, 2.

Teliha Kenny, Chelsea Streeter and Taliah Berry (all from Dysart).

Kath and Bevan Dale (Dysart).

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Groundwork Group

November 2009 |

The Mining Advocate

Growing with the region A thriving Tableland herb farm helped seed a business concept that has developed into The Groundwork Group. Nurturing rows of parsley, coriander and thyme may seem a far cry from Mike Richardson’s present area of expertise. But it was his successful foray into horticulture that opened the far north Queensland entrepreneur’s eyes to the business potential in erosion control. That led him to start a product supply firm that has evolved to become The Groundwork Group – three related companies offering clients a range of environmental engineering services and innovative products. “Our success has come through growing with the region and our customer-centric core values,” Mr Richardson said. “We take the load off our clients – doing the groundwork for them and coming back with results.” The Groundwork Group director began his working life as an apprentice electrical fitter mechanic at the Edgell’s cannery in Brisbane. He describes himself as having been a long-haired nomad in the years that followed, working in factories throughout Australia before going to Papua New Guinea – where he met his wife, Dawn, who was working as a school teacher in the Ramu Valley area. “I ended up in New Guinea in the ‘80s contracting and decided to settle in Cairns in 1989,” Mr Richardson said. “It was just before the recession and the pilots strike and we decided to go into business.” The couple took over a rundown herb operation in Kuranda and began the Village Herb Farm business, which burgeoned thanks to the Richardsons introducing their fresh product to supermarket shelves. “I got into horticulture and

did a degree in the mid ‘90s in land management through the University of Sydney,” Mr Richardson said. “It made me aware of the issues of soil and water management and erosion control.” While at the herb business he also become a distributor for a product line for soil stabilisation and erosion control. Mr Richardson began the Groundwork Supply Company in Cairns in 1995, focusing on a line of erosion control products. “Groundwork Supply did well, because we had a niche market which we grew,” he said. “Our competitors were in Townsville or Brisbane.” He said he had been plugging away with the distribution business when a major customer asked Groundwork Supply to install a product – sparking the company’s move into contracting services. “We changed the name in 1998 to Groundwork Services to cover that,” Mr Richardson said. The Richardsons dropped their herb business in the late 1990s to concentrate on growing the Groundwork operation. The company continued to diversify, branching into areas such as stormwater management and further product lines. In 2006 it bought out Bill’s Mini Loader and Earthmoving, when the owner retired, to create a new business arm - BML Groundwork. “The housing boom was on and we thought we could buy the machinery and plant (connected to Bill’s Mini Loader and Earthmoving) and integrate it with what we were doing with Groundwork Services,” Mr Richardson said. He began trading under the name Environmental Engineering Sales Australia

Dawn and Mike Richardson at the Cairns business .

(EESA) in 2007, with Groundwork Services acting as a construction arm, in a bid to differentiate the product supply

Photo: Romy Siegmann

side of his operation from its service roles. The operation was rebranded again last year, when The

Groundwork Group was registered as a company incorporating the three major divisions of the Richardsons’ business – EESA, Groundwork Services and BML Groundwork. The company, which has offices in Cairns and Townsville, employs nine people full time. It uses casual labour to handle the demands of an industry that involves major fluctuations in work between wet and dry seasons and to meet major project requirements. Mr Richardson believes the Groundwork name is a fitting brand for his business – and not merely because of its expertise in shifting or stabilising earth. It actually arose from the efforts he made to source products to meet customers’ needs in the enterprise’s infancy. “We’d do the groundwork, the running around for them,” he said.

The ‘go-to’ firm for tough tasks The Groundwork Group’s expertise in erosion control and links to world-class manufacturers meant it was often the “go-to” firm when urgent and unusual problems arose, director Mike Richardson said. “A lot of local engineers or councils will refer people to us,” he said. “We get all the curly jobs that people have problems with, particularly in retention work.” The Groundwork Group acted as a link between people seeking environmental engineering solutions and a range of innovative products and services, including other companies specialising in the field, he said. Recent projects have included a 10-week job securing a hill slope with large boulders on Fitzroy Island, south-east of Cairns, after some major rock slides. Their partner in that project, ROCK Australia Engineering, had also worked with Groundwork Services to install a 7.5m barrier to protect the Kuranda rail line from slides at Stoney Creek, Mr Richardson said. Another example of the business’s work was

the emergency barrier constructed to protect beachfront properties at Clifton Beach, Cairns, in 2005. BML Groundwork operations manager Barry Knight said the local council had approached the firm to provide a temporary solution within eight days in preparation for the onslaught of extremely high tides. “We dug a footing and filled gabions with stabilised crusher dust to build a 300m long by 2m wall,” he said. The construction included 76 S08 soil anchors and 600 cubic metres of gabion work. Mr Richardson said The Groundwork Group had been involved in mine-site projects including building hydraulic structures for stormwater management at Incitec Pivot’s Phosphate Hill site in north-west Queensland and for the Collinsville Coal Mine. Examples of Groundwork Services’ work in environmental protection, earth retention and stabilisation, stormwater management and pavement stabilisation can be viewed online at www.thegroundworkgroup.com.au.

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Groundwork Group

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

23

Innovative applications catching on A dust-busting solution and a breakthrough product offering road maintenance benefits are attracting industry interest. Mining companies and road makers are taking an increasing interest in a revolutionary Australian-made binding agent, according to Groundwork Group director Mike Richardson. And he believes more sites will start using PolyCom and the dust suppression agent DustChek, manufactured by the same company, as word of their capabilities spreads. Application resulted in better road surfaces and less dust, which translated into lower fleet maintenance costs and reductions in water use, Mr Richardson said. PolyCom and DustChek, manufactured by South Australian firm BioCentral Laboratories, are among a wide range of products available through The Groundwork Group’s Environmental Engineering Sales Australia (EESA) arm. These include gabions and mattresses, geotextiles and geogrids, soil anchoring systems, sediment control structures, retaining walls, liners, safety barriers, site preparation products, pollutant traps, water retention products and spill kits. Mr Richardson said PolyCom was proving particularly versatile, with people finding uses beyond its target area of application – binding unsealed road surfaces. “I was speaking to someone who digs post holes and mixes the dirt with PolyCom to make a putty that he puts back in

the hole so he has a compacted plug,” he said. “This product has only been around for the last five or six years. The manufacturers have suggested applications, but guys out in the paddock getting their hands dirty see a whole raft of associated opportunities.” When applied to road surfaces, PolyCom-treated water allows road makers to achieve greater

Director Mike Richardson and project manager Paul Ulcoq with PolyCom and DustChek lines.

compaction with less rolling. Mr Richardson said PolyCom distributors – who have dubbed themselves PolyComrades – were running with the catchphrase “delete the resheet” in marketing the product to those responsible for the maintenance of unsealed road networks.

Versatile vehicles

BML Groundwork operations manager Barry Knight. Photo: Romy Siegmann

“You can take in situ dirt and fold it back into the road, grade it, add PolyCom-treated water and roll it rather than importing competent material,” Mr Richardson said. “You will come back to a tightly bound surface that helps repel water.”

The Groundwork Group’s earthmoving division boasts a versatile fleet of machines available for domestic and commercial work, complemented by a skilled team of final trim operators. BML Groundwork operations manager Barry Knight said the fleet had been updated since the group purchased Bill’s MiniLoader and Earthmoving and the business targeted a wide range of work. Typical jobs included household work such as digging trenches and footings, preparing ground for turf laying, excavating driveways and removing rubbish. The BML Groundwork fleet includes three excavators (four-tonne, three-tonne and 1.5-tonne models), three tandem tip trucks, two bobcats and a track machine.

Photo: Romy Siegmann

This method had been used extensively on unsealed roads in Victoria’s Alpine Shire and generated a lot of interest at a recent Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA) national conference, he said. Distributors for the PolyCom and DustChek products were building a raft of information on their capabilities based on mine work undertaken in Western Australia and the Bowen Basin as well as various unsealed road networks, Mr Richardson said. Xstrata’s Handlebar Hill Mine outside Mount Isa had reduced its water cart use by about 50 per cent during a DustChek trial on its haul roads late last year. A trial at the Eloise copper mine in north-west Queensland about two years ago had also been successful, with the manager remarking that the arrival of double trailers at the mine was no longer preceded by the vision of a long trail of dust, he said. Another DustChek distributor – Seals Group operations manager Phil Turley – points to a central Queensland case where the product was applied to a haul road eight months ago. The haul road had not needed regrading since and the company had achieved a 95 per cent reduction in water use there, he said.

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24

SAFETY

November 2009 |

The Mining Advocate

Hi-tech hats monitor fatigue A major coal company is adopting the innovative SmartCap system to improve driver safety throughout its operations. Baseball-style caps fitted with fatigue monitoring technology will be standard issue for haul truck operators at Anglo Coal’s Dawson mine by Christmas. And the mining giant plans to roll out the new SmartCaps to other Anglo Coal Australia (ACA) sites nationwide throughout 2010. The SmartCap, invented by CRCMining engineer Dr Daniel Bongers, measures brainwave information through a number of microelectronic sensors and identifies when the wearer is experiencing symptoms of fatigue. Haul truck operators wearing the caps will be able to track their fatigue levels throughout their shift via an in-cabin display panel. The system alerts the driver when a danger limit has been reached as well as sending a message to the control room to

notify their superintendent. Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll said the company was eager to see the results the technology returned across its sites. “The safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate is crucial for Anglo globally, and we are committed to our ultimate goal of zero harm,” Ms Carroll said. “Fatigue in particular is one of the critical elements of our sites’ Target Zero Action Plans (TZAP), which address specific high-potential incidents at each site and assign new procedures to eliminate them. “Through the TZAPs, our priority has been to improve the safety of our heavy vehicle operators to ensure they do not experience dangerous ‘microsleeps’ on the job. “Due to limited technologies

SmartCap inventor Daniel Bongers with Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll, who models the new fatigue management headwear.

available, fatigue management has historically involved soft controls such as workforce awareness sessions on circadian rhythms, healthy lifestyles and dietary intake. “The SmartCap is an important advancement in

fatigue management because it will provide us with reliable, real-time monitoring technology.” CRCMining developed the SmartCap as part of a project funded by the Australian Coal Association Research Program

(ACARP). The technology is being taken to commercialisation with guidance and financial support from ACA. ACA opencut technical services general manager Hans Hayes said SmartCaps were first trialled at Anglo’s Callide and Capcoal operations in 2008, with good feedback from operators. “During the trial period at site, operators were very positive about the new technology, particularly because of the simplicity of the tool,” he said. “They were impressed that the light-weight baseball cap would not be a burden or cumbersome to wear.” An initial 50 caps would be introduced at the Dawson mine, near Moura in central Queensland, by December, Mr Hayes said. “Each haul truck at Dawson will be fitted with the SmartCap monitoring system and each operator provided with their own cap,” Mr Hayes said. “The SmartCaps will be rolled out at ACA’s other mine sites in 2010.”

Remote firing breakthrough to reduce risk A “world-first” remote firing system developed for north-west Queensland’s Cannington mine offers underground operations safety and production gains for little capital outlay, according to one of its creators. “There is massive potential for this to take on elsewhere,” Orica Mining Services North Queensland account manager Stuart Miller said. Orica Mining Services produced the new Leaky Feed CeBS (Centralised Electronic Blasting System) to allow twoway communication between an above-ground blast controller and i-kon electronic detonators via Cannington mine’s pre-existing radio network. Mr Miller said the Leaky Feed CeBS was developed after the BHP Billiton Cannington team approached Orica in early 2008 about developing a remote firing system for that site as a safety measure. “BHP Billiton’s safety vision is zero harm and they realised that firing blasts underground increased operators’ exposure, so they asked us if there was a way to enable blasting from the surface,” he said. “Close to two years worth of research and development has gone into enabling this to happen. Such a system relied on two-way communication being established – that was the most complex part.” The challenge for Orica’s research and development team was to develop such a system using leaky feeder communications – based on a

very long antenna designed to leak radio signals along its route – rather than phone lines. As most underground mines relied on leaky feeder systems for communications, Mr Miller said the new blasting system developed for Cannington had the potential for very wide application throughout Australia and overseas. “One of the big things is that it really does make good use of current mine infrastructure,” Mr Miller said “There’s not a great deal of hardware associated with the system. It’s a pretty easy system to implement from a capital perspective. “One of the added benefits of the system, beyond the safety

aspect, is it enables a potential for crews to stay underground longer (before the area is cleared for blasting).” In Cannington’s case, this may result in approximately 1500 extra operator hours worked per year, he said. BHP Billiton Cannington asset leader Bob Fulker said he was proud to have the world-first remote firing technology for the new generation electronic blasting system tested and implemented at the site. “Along with the team from Orica, Cannington mining engineer Alberto Diaz has had an important role in the development of the new underground firing system,” he said. The technology allowed total clearance of the mine before

BHP Billiton Cannington mining engineer Alberto Diaz and Orica Mining Services North Queensland account manager Stuart Miller at the firing location for the new remote blast system.

blasting, ensuring the safety of all BHP Billiton and contract personnel, Mr Fulker said. Previously, one or two people would stay underground in a safe location during the blast process. “This is a step change

engineering improvement that benefits the safety of this operation,” Mr Fulker said. “Productivity benefits are also realised due to reduced downtime associated with clearing the mine for blasting.”

Awards recognise safety achievement A Capella-based drilling service worker who invented an improved radiator topup system was among a raft of Queensland employees and firms recently awarded for workplace safety achievements. John Harris of Phoenix Drilling Services’ central Queensland branch won the “best individual contribution to workplace health and safety” category of the 2009 Queensland Work Safe Awards for his innovation. Other winners included S&N Civil Constructions, Townsville (best workplace health and safety management system) and Frook, Townsville (best solution to an identified health and safety issue). The winners of the inaugural Return to Work Awards, run by Q-COMP, were also announced recently. Xstrata Mount Isa Mines

crew supervisor Tony Seng won the award category for injured workers returning to work with the same employer. Mr Seng was involved in a workplace accident in November 2007, resulting in burns to 17 per cent of his body. With the help of workmates and the Xstrata injury management team, as well as a rehabilitation and return-to-work program, he was able to return to his preinjury job full time within 12 months. Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick said the Queensland Work Safe Awards and Return to Work Awards had attracted about 600 entries between them. “The standard was very impressive, highlighting how seriously many Queensland businesses and organisations take workplace safety,” Mr Dick said.


SAFETY

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

Brake blitz moves on to new targets The condition of vehicles at metalliferous sites and quarries will come under scrutiny in the next phase of a Mines Inspectorate crackdown. The Queensland Mines Inspectorate will continue its truck brake blitz into early 2010, with metalliferous mines and quarries the next operations to be targeted. Inspectors had conducted audits at 46 of the state’s 59 operating coal mines by the end of October. Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health, Stewart Bell, said checks on truck brakes at those sites had resulted in inspectors issuing 20 directives forcing operators to take their vehicles off the road until adequately repaired. Five substandard condition or practice notices were issued for vehicles requiring

less urgent maintenance. “We’re finding enough cases to be of concern to us,” Mr Bell said. While Mr Bell stressed that “not all contractors are tarred with the same brush”, he said there seemed to be a higher level of brake problems with contractor vehicles rather than mining company fleets. Mr Bell said the audits had initially focused on Bowen Basin coal mines and would roll through southern coal sites in the next month or so before moving on to metalliferous mines and quarries. The crackdown follows two fatalities in the State’s mining

and quarrying sector within a year in accidents that were a direct result of brake problems. They included a 49-year-old driver killed when his water truck tumbled off a cliff at a Townsville district quarry in July and a contractor crushed between a gate and his rolling water truck at a coal exploration site 180km south of Charters Towers in September last year. “We have had concerns for a while, particularly about highway trucks coming on to mine sites and not being subject to the same maintenance regime as mine site vehicles,” Mr Bell said. Like the inspectorate’s push to increase mines’ take-up of proximity detection and collision avoidance devices, Mr Bell said the crackdown on faulty truck brakes was a case of getting on the front foot to prevent accidents in the industry. “We’re getting a very good level of co-operation from the mines we’ve been to and contractors as well,” he said. A recent Queensland Mines Inspectorate safety bulletin warned that while mine fleets had increased in payload and tended to be off-highway vehicles, many contractors were using on-highway trucks whose braking systems and maintenance regimes may not stand up to the steep grades and extreme dust contamination encountered on mine sites.

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25

Extra elements for Collinsville display

A ‘Davy’ safety lamp.

A new installation focusing on Queensland’s mining disasters and the work of mines rescue personnel is expected to open at the Collinsville Coalface Experience in late November. Bowen-based multi-media designer Jenn Honnery has been working on the touch-screen system display, sponsored by the Queensland Mines Rescue Service.

The latest addition to the Collinsville Coalface Experience follows the official opening in October of another interactive display compiled by Mrs Honnery to showcase the evolution of mine safety systems. Mrs Honnery said part of that display covering the use of the Davy safety lamp had proved of particular interest to veteran miners. “It was invented in the early 1800s firstly as form of light underground - then it was figured out that it could also be used to monitor gas, especially methane,” she said. “It ended up being banned in Queensland mines after the Moura disaster and they found it actually caused the explosion. “We have great footage of tests showing how that happened.” Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson officially opened the safety technology display on Collinsville’s Miners’ Memorial Day.

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We remember Moura No. 2 Explosion, 1994 7 August 2009 On 7 August, 1994, an explosion claimed the lives of 11 night shift workers at the Moura No. 2 Mine in Central Queensland. Those who died were John Dullahide, 44, Darrell Hogarth, 46, David King, 24, Geoffrey Mazzer, 45, Mark Nelson, 36, Robert Newton, 39, Robert Parker, 39, Chris Ritchie, 27, Michael Ryan, 31, Michael Shaw, 27, and Terry Vivian, 49. The men who died were working 265 metres underground and three kilometres from the mine entrance. A subsequent formal inquiry into the loss of life said management had not taken adequate steps to inform Moura workers of risks of explosion and had made no attempt to keep miners out of the mine. The report of the inquiry said management assuptions on safety represented a passage of management neglect "which must never be repeated in the coal mining industry." The CFMEU is lobbying to maintain Industry Specific Legislation, to ensure disasters like this never happen again. In 13 incidents since 1961, 47 lives have been lost in the MouraKianga coal fields. The largest of these were Kianga No. 1 in 1975 (13 lives), Moura No. 4 in 1986 (12 lives) and Moura No. 2 in 1994 (11 lives).


Building Mining Communities

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

27

Miners’ union head moves on A stand against corruption proved a defining episode in the career of this long-serving workers’ advocate, writes Belinda Humphries. to Collinsville because it was the closest place that had a high school,” he said. Mr Betts’ first job was clearing cactus on a cattle station outside town. He went on to work at the Collinsville power station. “I started there as a trades assistant then studied to become a rigger,” he said. “I was at the power station for six years and had a stint at the mines with contractors when they were starting to develop the Collinsville mines into an export operation.” Mr Betts was then employed by MIM at the Collinsville operation from 1978 to 1989. He was a local mine delegate for the FEDFA in the 1980s when he became aware of corruption in the Queensland office. “I was one of the activists that took control of the building and locked everyone out,” he said. “After we were in the building two or three days we had a court order against us to get out. “At the end of the day Justice Pinkus found that the national union was the legal entity of the union under the rules and handed control of the state branch back to the Federal Executive.” The FEDFA national office asked Mr Betts and Peak Downs miner Bob Best to step in and assist the union by representing the Queensland mining membership. It was a partnership that quickly became known in the industry as “Best Betts”. “I came to Brisbane as a state secretary as Bob had younger children so we agreed that I should be the one to move my roots,” Mr Betts said. “That’s how I became state secretary of the FEDFA and I remained there until the union amalgamated into the CFMEU in 1992. “I became assistant secretary

Greg Betts on his last day of work at the CFMEU Brisbane headquarters. Photo: Fiona Harding

in Queensland for the mines and energy division and, three years later, secretary.” Mr Betts became the CFMEU mining and energy division president in 2007 when his predecessor Andrew Vickers moved to Sydney. His union career has seen him guide members through major disputes including the housing tax dispute of 1980, when the Fraser Government moved to tax miners on the benefit they received from subsidised housing in remote central Queensland, and the recent campaign against John

Call for public feedback on 2020 Vision report Isaac Regional Council is seeking feedback on the 2020 Vision community plan produced in a Statefunded pilot project involving community consultation throughout the region. The plan will feed into council’s strategic planning framework, directing the projects to be undertaken across the region. “We’ve developed the draft based on the

feedback we received through the engagement process and now we’d really like to know what the community thinks – it’s their document,” Mayor Cedric Marshall said. Isaac’s 2020 Vision community plan is available via council’s website at www.isaac.qld. gov.au or from council offices across the region.

Cedric Marshall Isaac Regional Council Mayor

Howard’s Work Choice laws. While miners were probably some of the most militant workers in Australia, Mr Betts said they were also the most generous in terms of supporting their communities. “They are always very generous when it comes to sponsoring charities or junior sporting bodies,” he said. “Those (mining) towns certainly wouldn’t have all the facilities they have today if not for the mining unions and their membership.” Mr Betts said CFMEU membership was still growing

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Greg Betts made a dramatic entry into elected office as a state secretary for the coal miners’ union. His appointment to that post in 1989 came after he joined a 16-strong band of coal delegates who took control of the Brisbane office of the then FEDFA (Federated Engine Drivers’ & Firemens’ Association) and staged a sit-in to oust a corrupt element in the State branch with the assistance of national and interstate officials. Mr Betts, 58, recently retired as Queensland president of the mining and energy division of the CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) after almost four decades of union involvement. Of his many achievements in the union, it was that attack on corruption in the organisation that stands out most for the long-time miners’ advocate. “Probably the proudest moment was taking the FEDFA back to a union that was financially responsible to the membership after we kicked them out and reformed the union,” Mr Betts said. The FEDFA amalgamated into the CFMEU in 1992. As a boy growing up in Collinsville, Mr Betts was exposed to a strong union culture and was particularly influenced by the struggle of local workers during the construction of the Collinsville power station. “That impressed on me the wrongs against the working class people by certain elements at the big end of town,” Mr Betts said. The Betts family had moved to Collinsville from the Atherton Tablelands when Mr Betts’ father Colin was working on the Eungella Dam project near Mackay for the Queensland Coordinator General’s department. “Mum and all us kids went

strongly, mainly due to the growth in the industries involved. The union had significant challenges ahead, especially in the mining sector due to issues tied with global warming and greenhouse gas emissions and a push by certain interest groups to kill off the coal industry, he said, “We’ve been certainly proactive at a national level to protect the continuation of coal mining,” he said. “It comes down to the development of technology that can safely reduce emissions, such as carbon capture and storage.” Mr Betts made the decision to retire to support his wife Jan in her battle against cancer. “It was always in the back of my mind as I am in my 50s and my wife is currently going through chemotherapy because she had breast cancer,” he said. “Being a president of a union involves an enormous amount of travel and I’m not willing to be out of town while she’s going through her treatment.” After Mrs Betts’ treatment in Brisbane, the couple plans to move to Townsville where they have a home on five acres (2ha) at Bluewater. Mr Betts said he was not giving up his CFMEU involvement entirely and would maintain a position as the union’s superannuation fund director until the end of his nominated term. “I will always make myself available to the membership in Queensland or the national office if they need my assistance, but only on a part-time basis,” he said. Mr Betts has two children from a previous marriage - daughter Kerry, who has a butcher shop in Dysart with her husband, and son Jason, who works at the United Mine Workers Club in Collinsville. Mr Betts said he enjoyed fishing and golf when not working; “that goes without saying, I’m a male”. Stephen Smyth has been named as his replacement in the president’s role.


28

Building Mining Communities

November 2009 |

The Mining Advocate

New wheels rock Cade’s world A Moranbah boy has more freedom to join his siblings at play thanks to a donation from local mine workers, writes Belinda Humphries. Riding your own bike for the first time may be a normal part of growing up for most Australian kids. But Cade Berardi’s ecstatic response left no doubt about how much it meant to him to gain the same opportunity thanks to a special set of wheels purchased through a donation from central Queensland miners. The 10-year-old Moranbah boy, who has limited mobility and spent most of his younger years in a wheelchair, was “over the moon” after receiving the Edge 24 tricycle. “He said ‘this is so cool, I just love my new bike’,” mother Michelle Berardi said. “And the look on his face...he gets so excited about the smallest things that normal kids take for granted.”

The tricycle was purchased with $1000 from the BMA Peak Downs Mine workforce, which recently handed over $51,000 in community grants from a safety bonus paid for achieving 50 days free from classified injuries. Mrs Berardi’s employer, Mine Assist - Moranbah, covered the $400 freight cost to get the trike to Moranbah. Cade has mild cerebral palsy, affecting his right side. It is among a host of health problems that has seen him undergo hundreds of tests and two serious operations – on his eyes and brain - in his short life. The problems stem from the slight brain damage Cade suffered at birth when he had a knot in his umbilical cord, which looped around his neck. “When he was born, the

doctors told us he may never walk or talk or go to mainstream school,” Mrs Berardi said. Despite that gloomy prognosis, her son attends mainstream classes in grade 5 at Moranbah State Primary School in addition to some daily sessions in the special education unit. Cade did not begin to walk, taking very few steps, until he was three and spent the next five years in a wheelchair until gaining strength in his legs. But he is now able to move about with a walking frame at school and covers short distances unassisted at home. “It’s things like that you never think will happen,” Mrs Berardi said. Cade’s cerebral palsy causes spasms in his right arm and his right leg kicks out to the side when he walks. He had fluid on the brain when born, a turned eye, suffers from sleep apnoea and hypothyroidism as well as a form of diabetes (diabetes insipidus) stemming from surgical complications.

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At 98kg, the weight problems connected to those health issues also limit Cade’s mobility. Mrs Berardi said her son sometimes attracted “the glare and stare” from strangers. “It gets to you sometimes, but I think if they are that narrow minded who cares,” she said. Mrs Berardi – whose husband Damien works at the Peak Downs mine - said she had sought help to buy the Edge 24 tricycle from Body Cycles after seeing the benefits of one in use at the school’s special education unit. Cade’s tricycle includes cradles

to prevent his feet slipping off the pedals, a pedal tension chain to help him keep pulling his feet forward and a handle at the rear to allow others to assist him. Mrs Berardi said it was great to give Cade the chance to get on his bike and join his brother Trace, 12, and sister Montana, 9, when they went out riding. “Cade, along with Damien and myself, really want to say thanks to all the employees at BMA Peak Downs Mine for giving us that money and Mine Assist for paying for the freight for us,” she said.

Cody claims victory in swansong home bout

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Cade Berardi, centre, hits the road on his new Edge 24 tricycle with Trace, Montana and mum Michelle.

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Moranbah’s Dan Cody toughed it out to retain his Queensland title in a bruising hometown bout that saw the professional boxer knocked down twice in the first two rounds. The fight, against Mareeba-based fighter Damon Eales, was the last hurrah for Cody – who has now retired from competitive boxing after a 16-year career in the amateur and professional leagues. Cody said the high level of competition and the support of the local crowd at the recent Moranbah Boxing Club fight night made it “a great one to go out on”. The 33-year-old Moranbah Mine Assist manager was defending his Queensland lightweight boxing title, earned in a Townsville competition in August. “It was a difficult fight, probably tougher than I thought it would have been for the last fight in Moranbah,” Cody said. “He (Eales) knocked me down twice in the first and second round - I have never been knocked down like that in 95 fights. “But I managed to get my head together and come back strong. I stopped him in the fifth round with a body shot (which broke a rib cartilage).” Cody suffered a bad case of concussion in the bout, the worst in his career, but was cleared in a CAT (Computerised Axial Tomography) scan. “I thought ‘I don’t need to be doing this anymore’,” Cody said. “Fighting at that level, that sort of thing could happen at any time. “I have been lucky enough to not get caught by punches like that before maybe it is age setting in.”

Dan Cody Queensland lightweight boxing champion

Cody believed about 300 to 400 people had attended the fight night, sponsored by the CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union). He plans to continue his involvement in the sport by training other local boxers. “We have some good amateurs in the juniors and seniors - so we will push them along to wherever they can get,” Cody said.


Building Mining Communities

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

29

Mining Supporting Communities

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

'ERRMRKXSR Tahlia Mills with niece Madison Plath of Moranbah.

Keely McConnell and Mikayla Graves show off some hard-hat ‘bling’

Family fun at Kestrel More than 2000 people visited Kestrel Mine outside Emerald for a recent open day featuring tours of the underground coal mine and its processing plant. “The public was also able to view construction activities at the Kestrel South mine extension area which will extend the life of the mine by 20 years,” Kestrel Mine general manager operations Tony Lennox said. A ‘bling your hard hat’ stand - where children used glitter, stickers and rhinestones to give a touch of glamour to their protective gear – was among the family activities on offer. The open day raised $10,000 for the local community.

Workers open their hearts to good cause Workers at MMG Century Mine in north-west Queensland have gone the extra mile for a cause close to their heart. Century general manager John Lamb said employees were inspired to fundraise for the charity HeartKids after hearing about his own four-year-old daughter’s experiences with a heart condition. “Our team at Century were incredibly supportive when my own daughter underwent surgery for a heart condition earlier this year and wanted to know how they could help other children and their families in the same situation,” he said. “We decided that the best way we could do this was to fundraise for an organisation that provides support to families during these difficult times.” Century workers raised more than $5000 for the charity through events including a walkathon on a heart-shaped track and an on-site manager’s auction. The September auction saw departments bid to purchase members of Century’s management team for a day. The managers also had to appear at breakfast the following morning in full fancy dress costume. “People at the mine really got behind our fundraising activities,” Mr Lamb said. “The managers auction turned out to be the biggest hit, which I think was the result of people looking forward to seeing the managers in their costumes. “Teams were also able to select other tasks for the managers they had purchased to perform.” Mr Lamb said that he was proud to be part of such a generous and supportive team. “In addition to our activities for HeartKids, our team has already raised money for the Victorian bushfire victims and Cancer Council this year,” he said. “Individual teams on site have also raised money for local schools and other programs for children in the Gulf.”

Going the extra mile for sick kids Tahlia Mills’ childhood in Moranbah made her aware of the reliance of regional communities on the Brisbane-based Royal Children’s Hospital. So she is ensuring that a high proportion of funds raised in her “Steps 4 Smiles” event in December is used to help the hospital foundation’s Rural Family Support service. Ms Mills - a mining union health and safety assistant - said the knowledge of what families in regional areas went through when children needed treatment in the capital city, as well as her affection for her own nieces and nephews, inspired her to raise money for the children’s hospital.

The Brisbane resident hopes to raise $50,000 through “Steps 4 Smiles” – a 10km walk from the Roma Street Parklands to the Royal Children’s Hospital and back on December 5. The walk will be followed by an afternoon barbecue in the park, including entertainment, food stalls and prizes. While “Steps 4 Smiles” began as her personal cause, Ms Mills said her employer – the CFMEU mining and energy division – had quickly thrown its weight behind the event. “I approached three of my bosses one afternoon for sponsorship and they jumped on board and wanted to help make

it a bigger event,” she said. “We (the CFMEU) do a lot (of community work) in the regional areas, but this is a good opportunity for our Brisbane members to get involved.” Unfortunately, Ms Mills said she would be completing the walk circuit in a wheelchair as she is recovering from surgery after badly dislocating her knee. If December’s fundraiser proves successful, the 23-yearold said she hopes to make “Steps 4 Smiles” an annual event. People seeking more event information or wishing to donate should email steps4smiles@ hotmail.com or phone Ms Mills on 0430 380 485.

BMA backs cancer campaign A major Bowen Basin coal operator has launched a $100,000 partnership with the Mater Foundation to assist prostate cancer research. The BMA initiative will help the Mater Medical Research Institute (MMRI) develop new therapies for prostate cancer - a disease that claims the lives of 3000 Australian men each year. BMA chief executive officer Marcelo Bastos said it would also help raise awareness of the disease in mining communities. “As BMA has a predominantly male workforce, we felt it was very important to invest funds into this research and use the alliance to educate our workforce and the communities where we operate about prostate cancer,” he said. “During the partnership, events and community health seminars will be held across all of our communities to provide education on prostate cancer as well as raise money for the excellent work of the Mater Foundation. “BMA is very proud to be associated with the Mater Foundation and I look forward to

Mater Foundation executive director Nigel Harris and BMA chief executive officer Marcelo Bastos at the partnership launch.

working with them in the coming years.” Mater Foundation executive director Nigel Harris spoke of the importance of the landmark research to be assisted by the partnership. “One in nine Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, so it is vital that new

resourcing g the e future 'ERRMRKXSR

therapies are found to combat this disease,” Mr Harris said. “Researchers at the MMRI are developing a treatment that will allow the body’s own immune system to detect and fight prostate cancer. “Support, like the partnership with BMA, is needed to fund this essential research.”


30

Battle of the Mines

November 2009 |

The Mining Advocate

Band of brothers Rugby league is a family affair for the Chaplain clan, who came out in force to support the Cannington Cougars in Cloncurry this year. The trek to Cloncurry to watch her sons play in the recent Battle of the Mines evokes memories for grazier and proud mum Christine Chaplain. Christine’s three sons – Robert, 25, Christopher, 23, and 22-year-old Michael all pulled on the jersey for the BHP Billiton Cannington team. Mrs Chaplain is a big supporter of the Battle of the Mines and rugby league in the north-west, saying it contributes to building the community. “The Battle of the Mines is a highlight in the social calendar,” she said. “It (also) builds camaraderie as miners from different shifts who may not normally see each other get to meet.” It all started for the Chaplains 15 years ago with go-getting teacher Liz Rainy taking responsibility for starting up junior rugby league at the Cloncurry State Primary School. The team was immediately a hit among the kids and entered into the Mount Isa competition, which meant a 300km round trip most weekends during the winter months for the Chaplains. “The team was very strong,” Mrs Chaplain said. “A lot of country boys came in and played with the town kids. It was good bonding. “We did it because the kids loved rugby league and they were good players.” The boys were sent to board at Columba Catholic College in Charters Towers for their secondary school years, where they honed their skills playing

Townsville sides and other Christian Brothers schools in the confraternity competition. It was at confraternity where youngest son Michael was awarded a scholarship to further his rugby league skills in the school holidays at the Australian Institute of Sport. Michael returned home last year after four years playing for Brisbane side Wynnum Manly. He debuted in the Queensland Cup competition as hooker and also played second row. The Battle of the Mines provided a good standard of football, Michael said. “Having the 5m rule tightened everything up around the ruck and made it a quick game,” he said. “There were some handy players. Neil Sweeney was fullback for Ernest Henry. “He played a heap of games for the Cowboys only a year or two ago. The standard was up there. “I have to thank Cannington for letting me have a run with them. It was a great day and good fun.” The Battle of the Mines provided one of the first opportunities for the brothers to play footy together since the early days in the back yard of the homestead on Malakoff Station, about 30km north of Cloncurry, said Christopher Chaplain. Christopher said this year’s battle was a close competition, with Cannington losing by only two points to both the tournament winner and the runner-up.

The Chaplain brothers - Michael, Christopher and Robert - with parents Chris and Damien. Photo: Roslyn Budd

Having played in every competition since he was 16, Christopher said he looked forward to it every year.

It was a special opportunity to be able to play alongside Robert and Michael. “Cannington is always good.

They put a tab on the bar at the Leichhardt Hotel for anyone who plays for the team and everyone gets a game,” he said.

New direction for contest A women’s competition and a central Queensland challenge may be on the cards for next year’s Battle of the Mines competition. Tournament co-ordinator for 2009 Larinda Turrell said organisers had received an 11th hour approach this year regarding a female contest, with an indication that three women’s teams were interested. The rescheduling required at late notice had weighed against them, but Mrs Turrell said organisers would definitely consider a female competition at the 2010 Battle if there was enough interest. The organising committee is also keen to see central Queensland teams join next year’s competition. Mrs Turrell said they

planned a promotional campaign in the region, including emailing mine sites to gauge the level of interest. Another option being mooted is for a sister competition in central Queensland culminating in a challenge between the CQ winner and the winner of Cloncurry’s Battle of the Mines tournament. Organisers were pleased with the response to the 2009 event, which Mrs Turrell estimated to have attracted 300-400 spectators. Team nomination fees raised $8000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service while the Cloncurry Scouts Association benefited from the gate takings. Mrs Turrell said the North Queensland Cowboys had continued their support

for the competition, with hooker Clint Amos and two development officers travelling to Cloncurry for the weekend. The final battle lineup included five Xstrata operation teams - the MICO Devils, Zinc Power, Young Guns, Copper Smelter Mongrels and Ernest Henry Dingoes – as well as the Century Chariots, Cannington Cougars and newcomers the CuDeco Eagles. This was one team down on the 2008 tournament, which featured a Zinc Power Silver and Zinc Power Maroon team. An Eloise mine team took the field in 2008, however that mine was placed on care and maintenance late last year.

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Battle of the Mines

The Mining Advocate | November 2009

31

Three in a row for MICO boys An experienced Devils line-up took grand final glory this year to continue the team’s recent Battle of the Mines domination. The MICO Devils claimed victory in the 2009 Battle of the Mines competition after a second-half points surge saw them overcome grand final rivals Zinc Power 24 -16. The team has now notched up three consecutive wins in the annual rugby league tournament and manager Mal MacRae says they will have their eye on the prize again next year. “We’re pretty excited to have three in a row – that’s what we were talking about (in the leadup). Nobody has done three backto-back before,” he said. Mr MacRae said continuity was a key factor in the MICO (Mount Isa Copper Operations) team’s strength. More than 60 per cent of the 2009 team had played with the Devils in previous Battle of the Mines tournaments and more had experience with other sides, he said. “So you have blokes who know each other and have been there, done that,” Mr MacRae said. “They have experienced it and know how fast it runs.” Battle of the Mines teams play 10-minute halves in the qualifying rounds, while the grand final game runs for 15 minutes each way. The short matches leave no room for error, according to Mr MacRae – who has been involved in the tournament since 2002, first as a player and then as MICO Devils manager. “It’s just intense football – there’s no let up and if you make a mistake you’ll pay for it,” he said. Discipline and fatigue management were important in such conditions, he said. “We just went out and didn’t go too hard too quick,” Mr MacRae said. “It’s a very long day so we know to pace ourselves.”

Mr MacRae said the Devils fielded 30 players, aged from 20 to 42, during the day. All had a run in the early games, however when it came to “crunch time” the best players took the field, he said. The Devils overcame the Century Chariots 10-4 in their semi-finals match, taking them into the grand final play-off with Zinc Power – which had beaten the CuDeco Eagles to get there. The grand final began with a bang, with Zinc Power scoring within the first two minutes. “They came out and scored first up - which gave us a wake-up call,” Mr MacRae said. “Then it went backwards and forwards until probably about the last eight minutes of the second half. “Then we got two tries in on them, which gave us the lead and we held that until the end. “The difficulty on our side

MICO Devils player Quintan Marshall beats Chariots defender Billie Willetts to get over the try line. Photo: Roslyn Budd

was keeping them out. They had a few attacking opportunities. But the boys were talking it up, being positive – some of the older players were using their experience to coach the younger ones through.” The Devils team - captained by Ben Watt - was predominantly drawn from Xstrata’s Mount Isa copper operations, but also included other workers from the region, Mr MacRae said. Trevor Chong was named

The winning 2009 Battle of the Mines team - MICO Devils.

to the

MICO DEVILS for winning The Australian Workers Union (AWU) shield in the 2009 Battle of the Mines

player of the final and Devils teammate Jamie Williams was player of the tournament. The MICO Devils, Zinc Power and Century Chariots have dominated the Battle of the Mines clash in recent years. Mr MacRae said the Century Chariots won in 2005 and 2006, following a MICO Devils win in 2004. Zinc Power coach Jimmy Larkin said that team, led by captain John Venz, had done

an excellent job in the 2009 tournament. “The boys went out to play hard right from the word go,” he said of the grand final showdown. “We kicked off, got the ball back and went over on the first set of six. Then a lot of penalties went against us in the next few minutes and ‘bang’, we were down 10 points.” The team had placed third in the previous two years, Mr Larkin said. Injuries and a limited number of players had proved their downfall in 2008. “This year we had a full complement of guys and it wasn’t good enough,” Mr Larkin said. “The MICO Devils played out of their skin - they were awesome.” He said the Zinc Power boys would be looking to make 2010 their big year. “We will definitely be there fighting fit and raring to go,” Mr Larkin said. Zinc Power donated $20,000 raised from its sponsors to the RFDS prior to the tournament.

Photo: Roslyn Budd


32

Battle of the Mines

November 2009 |

Eagles soar into semis

Coach questions format The rule controlling the number of pickup players allowed per team and issues of tournament style have been raised for review. Organisers must rethink the Battle of the Mines format to ensure the rules and refereeing standards keep in step with the spirit of the competition, according to Zinc Power coach Jimmy Larkin. Mr Larkin said organisers must be clear on whether they wanted to take the day back to a “fun style” or step up in those areas to match the increasing seriousness of the competition. “I think we definitely have to look at the format of the competition,” Mr Larkin said. “We give feedback to Rotary and to the committee that runs it – and they do a great day. “But what I think we really have to look at is the way it is getting more competitive and if they want it to continue into a strong competition then they have to look at the refereeing - which really does need to pick up. “Otherwise they have to advertise it as more of a fun competition and ensure the seriousness doesn’t come into it.” Mr Larkin said success in the Battle of the Mines carried

Jimmy Larkin Zinc Power coach

unbelievable bragging rights. But he noted it involved a mix of players, ranging from local A-grade team talent to the “oncea-year” blokes. He said also he would be urging a review over the rule that teams should only have four “pick-up” players in a 30-strong playing pool, with the remainder required to be a mine site’s employees or permanent contractors.

That rule should be revisited and the situation clarified as it was not being enforced, he said. Battle of the Mines coordinator Larinda Turrell defended the standard of refereeing, pointing out that all nine referees officiating at the 2009 competition were Queensland Rugby League certified. She said also the organising committee was already reviewing the rule regarding team composition for next year. Mrs Turrell said the CuDeco Eagles team that took the field this year had involved a large proportion of Cloncurry players who wanted to join the competition but didn’t generally get to play because they weren’t connected with mining operations. Allowing them in had helped organisers “make up the numbers”

The Mining Advocate

to keep the competition strong and this relaxation of the rules had been explained to other teams, she said. Mrs Turrell viewed the tournament primarily as a fun, community-oriented day. “At the end of the day it is to raise money for the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service),” she said. Mrs Turrell said it was really up to teams, coaches and team managers how seriously they wanted to take things. Mr Larkin said the CuDeco team was a special case as it was just starting out. “There were other teams there that had more than four pick-up players,” he said. MICO Devils manager Mal MacRae said it would be good to see any ruling on pick-up players put in writing so the matter was “black and white”.

Competition newcomers the CuDeco Eagles made it through to the semi-finals of this year’s Battle of the Mines, but were beaten 6-0 by Zinc Power. Zinc Power coach Jimmy Larkin described the contest as “probably the game of the day for its fast-flowing action and disciplined play”. CuDeco coach Ron Major said the Eagles included a mix of Cloncurry players from the Queensland Rugby League midwestern competition, CuDeco site contractors and workers from other mining operations. “The CuDeco mob were pretty impressed with the team we put together for them and a big thanks should go to CuDeco for sponsoring and supporting us,” he said. They planned to be back again next year, Mr Major said.

Physiotherapist Laura Black treats an injured Young Guns player with help from physiotherapy student Suzi Gunn. Photo: Roslyn Budd

Angels of the battle field Some talented sets of hands contribute to the performance of Battle of the Mines teams without ever touching a football. Mount Isa Physiotherapy supports the annual competition by taking care of tasks such as massage, stretches, strapping and tending the wounded warriors. Principal physiotherapist David Rose said the business had a six-strong team donating their time at the 2009 event in Cloncurry. However, he said Mount Isa Physiotherapy began its involvement well before game day by providing fitness screenings, treatment for minor pre-match injuries and input at training sessions. “The focus of our intervention is prevention,” Mr Rose said. For many players, the mines tournament would be their only competitive football all year. “That’s why we try to see people ahead of the game and make sure they are fit enough to participate,” Mr Rose said. “There are usually a few people who would like to play but are not physically ready for it, so we work with the managers and coaches to prepare them for the game.” While the service spent most of its time with the Mount Isa-based players from Xstrata operation teams, it had assisted all

competing sides on the day, he said. Each physiotherapist or physiotherapy student would have worked on at least 25 or 30 players. “I think we went through about 57 rolls of (strapping) tape,” Mr Rose said. Shoulders, ankles, knees and necks were common injury sites. But Mr Rose believed many more potential muscle injuries had been avoided thanks to the player preparations involving his business. “Over the last couple of years there have been significantly less injuries then there would have been three or four years ago (before Mount Isa Physiotherapy became involved),” he said. Mr Rose said the league tournament was a good charity event and he saw the firm’s involvement as a way of giving something back to the people who provided a large part of their business. Mount Isa Physiotherapy’s work with local mining operations includes pre-employment screening, functional capacity evaluations, work site assessments, ergonomic evaluations and professional advice to help reduce the risk associated with various manual tasks.


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The Mining Advocate - November 2009

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