The mining industry’s vital role providing jobs and economic stability during COVID has been featured in an incredible Australian-first live TV broadcast from an underground mine.
Sky News host Chris Smith broadcast his weekly show Chris Smith Tonight from deep inside Centennial’s Airly coal mine, between Lithgow and Mudgee in central NSW.
In a highly technical undertaking, Sky News tapped the mine’s fibre optic and communications networks to broadcast the hour-long show from the working mine more than 270m below the surface. It featured exclusive footage of mining operations, and interviews with life-long mine workers, community members and political leaders.
NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said it was an important event that recognised the huge effort undertaken to keep our mines operating safely during the pandemic.
“Mining operations have continued largely uninterrupted and that’s delivered major economic benefits for our country, including to help to dig Australia out of deficit,” he said.
“With the Upper Hunter by-election only weeks away, there is great interest in how mining is underpinning the economic recovery underway across Australia.
“The Airly mine is just one example of many operations driving economic activity at a time when we need it most and it’s great to see this being celebrated during this special broadcast.”
Chris Smith was joined underground by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Federal Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon where they discussed mining’s critical role in the national economic recovery.
“Mining underpins our exports, underpins our economy and during COVID it was an industry that never shut down. It’s so important,” NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.
Chris Smith, Sky News Anchor said: "It's an Australian first to broadcast live from that far underground, inside a working coal mine.
“It's a rare opportunity to see how these operations work but also to discuss the myriad of recent issues related to our biggest export earner."
Centennial Managing Director and CEO Craig Gillard welcomed the opportunity to showcase Airly’s operations and people and the contribution they make to NSW.
“The coal from this mine goes to NSW power stations, essential for powering businesses and homes across the State. Our miners are world-class and so it’s been great to show viewers around Australia the hard yards they put in every shift to keep the lights on in NSW,” he said.
“Our people are proud miners, living locally with their families and making a positive contribution in the community. So I thank them for the work they do every day that strengthens our business, the region’s economy and supports local businesses.”
Background on Airly Mine
The mine employs around 130 local people and spent $94 million in 2019 with 377 businesses that supply the mine including $11 million in the Lithgow and Mudgee regions.
The mine also paid $6.6 million in royalties to the NSW Government last year which helped to fund infrastructure and essential services like nurses, teachers and police.
Airly mine is operated by Centennial, which has operations in the Lake Macquarie and Lithgow regions. Centennial employs around 1,500 people across NSW.
A 2MW solar farm has been operating at the mine for 12 months, offsetting electricity costs. At the end of the mine’s life, the solar farm will deliver energy back into the NSW power grid.
Background on mining in NSW
Mining is the biggest export industry in NSW and a major contributor to the NSW economy. Gold, copper and coal mining generates billions of dollars in export revenue and taxes, levies and royalties paid to state and federal governments every year.
There are 40,000 people employed in mining in NSW. NSW Minerals Council member companies directly spent $10.3 billion in NSW last financial year buying goods and services from almost 8,000 local NSW businesses.
NSW Minerals Council - Callum Fountain - firstname.lastname@example.org and 0409 758 734
Sky News - Sarah Bullen - email@example.com and 0423 871 030