The NSW Mining Industry & Suppliers Awards is a celebration of the hard-working people that power our industry.
The winners of the 2020 NSW Mining Industry & Suppliers Awards are:
NSW Mining Operation of the Year
Illawarra Metallurgical Coal, South32
Illawarra Metallurgical Coal (IMC) operates in the Illawarra and Wollondilly regions of the southern coalfields, 75km south of Sydney. IMC has two underground metalliferous coal mines, Dendrobium and Appin. IMC employs around 1,200 people, ninety percent of whom live in the local region, as well as providing work for nearly 1,000 contractors. IMC also spends around $160 million annually with approximately 400 local suppliers.
The high-quality metalliferous coal produced by IMC is exported out of Port Kembla Coal Terminal or provided to Australian steel making customers such as Bluescope Steel. The focus of IMC at both its southern coalfield mines is long term sustainability based on more efficient performance and enhanced innovations in safety.
A good example is the challenge of reducing dust exposure while increasing production at the longwall operation at the Dendrobium mine. To overcome the challenge IMC implemented and enhanced the leading-edge control and automation operation of the longwall miner, which not only allows for more accurate mining, but moves employees further away from in front of the long wall cutting zone.
This innovation has improved health and safety outcomes and increased production by 18 percent, with average shear times increasing by 10 percent. Innovations such as these at IMC mines has seen production increased from 4.2 million tonnes in 2018 to 6.6 million tonnes in 2019 with an expected 7 million tonnes in 2020.
Importantly, safety has improved with reportable injury frequency rates falling from 22 in 2017 to 16.2 in 2019. IMC is also proud to work closely with the Illawarra community, contributing over $4.1 million in trust grants since 2004. The long-established local community working groups meet 35 times a year to ensure open dialogue on a range of issues and future plans for mining operations.
NSW Mining Supplier of the Year
Ampcontrol was established in Newcastle in 1968 and has become a leader in the provision of safe and reliable electrical solutions for the NSW mining industry. Ampcontrol now operates in eight regional centres in NSW and employs 450 people across the State.
A focus for Ampcontrol has been investment in R&D and the pursuit of technological innovation. Ampcontrol visited a number of their hard rock clients and uncovered large ‘starter graveyards’ where electronic starter components for mining equipment had been discarded. The company knew addressing this level of waste and duplication was a challenge they could meet.
Ampcontrol found that mine operations faced a lack of flexibility, restricted to using traditional electronic starters that were often only designed to power one piece of equipment. Custom starters also required a lengthy tender and production process.
A team from Ampcontrol spent 30 months bringing the Rockstarter multi-function starter system to life. The Rockstarter offered improved monitoring with a smart-phone-style display as well as vastly superior functionality, able to be used with a broad range of equipment.
The results of the Rockstarter system have been increased ‘up-time’ for equipment, time saving with regard to coordinating post-blast operations and increased productivity. The new system also delivers enhanced safety, easier routine diagnostics and lower procurement costs eliminating the need for multiple and custom starters.
The Rockstarter system is helping drive a transition to ’smart mining’ within the NSW mining sector. As part of their focus on technological innovations, Ampcontrol also participates in the Australian Government’s P-TECH program, a collaboration of education and industry to help students develop skills and knowledge for a trade related career.
Young Achiever - Joint Winners
Ellie Hawkins, Scheduling Engineer, CMOC-Northparkes Mines
Ellie Hawkins is a Scheduling Engineer in the Technical Services team at CMOC-Northparkes Mines, a copper and gold mine located in Parkes, NSW.
Ellie’s goal was to forge a career in the mining industry right from the start. While studying at Wollongong University, Ellie was elected President of the AusIMM Illawarra Student Chapter. In 2017 Ellie joined CMOC Northparkes as a graduate mining engineer.
In her first year, Ellie completed a term working as part of an underground crew as the only female member. During this time, Ellie put together a business case for wireless blasting technology.
Within her first 12 months Ellie transitioned from her position as a graduate to the role of Drill and Blast Engineer with the concurrent role of Project Team Leader for the trial of a wireless detonation technology. The trial resulted in enhanced safety for charge crews as well as productivity improvements. The goal is for 90 percent of all firings in 2020 to use the new technology.
In 2017 Ellie joined the Northparkes Emergency Response Team (ERT) training as a responder with skills ranging from road crash rescue, compartment fire and underground search and rescue. In 2019 Ellie competed with the Northparkes ERT team at the Victorian Mines rescue Competition where they were named overall winners.
Ellie is a strong advocate for gender diversity, actively looking for opportunities to share her mining experience with other women to highlight the career opportunities available to them within the mining industry. Her goal is to see more innovations in technology implemented in mining operations at Northparkes to further boost safety and productivity.
Steven Fordham, Managing Director, Blackrock Industries
A proud Kamilaroi man, Steven Fordham is the Managing Director of Blackrock Industries based in Muswellbrook, which provides labour services such as earthworks, construction and cleaning to the mining industry.
Following a serious medical diagnosis doctors told Steven he probably wouldn’t live past 18. Steven says this meant he did not give much thought to his future nor take his education very seriously. After eventually teaching himself to read and working through a boilermaking apprenticeship, at age 25 Steven decided he wanted to ‘do something big’ with his life.
He scraped together some savings, bought an old tipper truck, and Blackrock Industries was born.
Within the first 12 months, Blackrock Industries turned over $1 million. Three years down the track and Blackrock industries is a multi-million-dollar company with 22 locations across the nation employing 120 people.
As part of his work at Blackrock Industries, Steven started a program called Second Chance for Change. The program works within the NSW prison system to give incarcerated indigenous men an employment opportunity and a way of creating a better future for themselves.
Since the program started, over 47 former inmates have been employed with a commitment for 150 positions over the next three years. Steven’s goal is to be the first indigenous company to have a $1 billion dollar a year turn over as well as the first indigenous company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Outstanding Contribution to Mining
John Richards, Chairman, The Bloomfield Group
Since 2002, John has engaged extensively with the broader mining industry and the local community.
Reflecting on mining’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, John says it’s shown how highly our industry values their employees.”
Watch John's acceptance speech here: