Richard Gillham is a 5thgeneration local farmer, member of the Boggabri Lions Club and the current Rural Fire Service Captain of the Nandewar Fire Brigade. But above all, Richard is a proud member of the Boggabri community and an advocate for all the industries that support it.
Richard has always been passionate about the survival and wellbeing of his local community which he believes has a lot to do with mining and agriculture successfully working together. Encouraging and supporting this coexistence is important for the future of Boggabri.
“Mining has been in our area for many years. My property falls in the zone of affectation by Boggabri Coal and we’ve been there since it was founded in the area. I remember many years ago speaking to one of the mine’s General Managers about the future and saying that we’ve been here for a long time and we’re not going anywhere, and now you’ve turned up with a lot of money and you’re not going anywhere, so how about we get along? And to this day, that’s how we work.”
Richard says forming relationships with the mining companies that work in the area is essential to ensuring mining and farming not only co-exist, but do so in a mutually beneficial way.
“We’ve managed to maintain a very open line of communication with them which has allowed any issues that may arise to be resolved in a very easy manner. In our experience we have found them to be very approachable and they’ve been respectful of our views.”
“Our family has been fortunate enough to lease land off Boggabri Coal and Whitehaven Coal, which has enabled us to expand our farming operation and allow three of our children to come home. Three of our children coming home has put six new members in the Rural Fire Service which was dwindling.”
Richard is proud that his children will be able to carry on in the farming industry and become the 6thgeneration to work the land in Boggabri. Like many farmers in the area, they now also have the option to take work at a mine to supplement their income if required. He’s seen first-hand farmers who have been able to drought-proof their property, feed stock or buy new machinery because of additional income earnt through mining.
Mining does not just supplement incomes either. Richard also explains that with advances in agricultural technology, a downside is the huge reduction in the human workforce. These loss of farming jobs have been filled by the jobs in the mining industry.
Then there’s the support from the mining industry that goes directly to the community. Richard says that without that support some of the local service clubs, such as Lions and Rotary, would struggle to stay afloat.
“Of course, there is an environmental impact from mining,” says Richard. “But we also have very strict environment and management scrutiny. I’m comfortable that if guidelines are adhered to, that there is very little impact on my ability to continue farming.”
“I feel that we have, we are and we will coexist with mining. Like I said, we’re not going anywhere, and they’re not going anywhere. That’s why I think it’s important to make people more aware and educated about the positive aspects of mining. The town of Boggabri will see changes as mining continues in the area. I hope families and industries are encouraged to seek residency in Boggabri and participate in local community events. We may be a little town, but we are a lovely little town. And may I say, our little town would be a lot littler if it wasn’t for mining.”