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Mining

Ross’s Return

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Nathan Ross is revolutionising the way we look at health, safety and wellbeing on the mine site following his forced medical retirement from the Newcastle Knights earlier this year.

Best recognised for this time with the Newcastle Knights following his NRL debut in 2015, Nathan Ross has fought for his dreams from the moment he stepped on the footy field as a young gun.

Born on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Nathan moved to Maroubra, Sydney with his mum at the age of 4, attending St Joseph’s College, a catholic boarding school, for his high school years. And if you ever saw him sneaking out ridiculously early on a Sunday morning…you guessed it…footy time!

While they only played Union at St Joseph’s College, Nathan would sometimes travel hours just to play football. “I would get my Nan to ring up on a Friday night and get me an overnight stay at her house for the Saturday night just so that I could go play football on the Sunday,” said Nathan.

“And if I wasn’t able to get an overnight stay, I would wake up early Sunday morning and catch a bus to the city and then a train to Bondi Junction and then another bus to where we were playing.”

It’s this determination and self-belief that followed Nathan throughout his football career. Nathan said he was a small, average player during his junior years with the Burleigh Bears and Coogee Randwick Wombats, but his love for the game saw him defy the odds.

Nathan moved back to Queensland in 2009 and played for the Tweed Head Seagulls. Returning to Burleigh Bears in 2010 his hard work started to pay off and Nathan was the top try scorer for the Queensland Cup. “It came out of nowhere really; I just played because I loved it,” said Nathan.

Alongside his love for footy Nathan Ross has always had strong ties with the coal mining industry. After not getting interest from any NRL clubs he moved to Newcastle to work underground in 2011.

“I reached out to a club called Lakes United and they got me a job in the mines to come down and play for them, and that’s how I ended up in Newy about 10 years ago now.”

Nathan compared working underground to a football team saying there are very few industries where you need completely rely on trusting your team.

“At any given point in time if something goes wrong you need to know that someone has your back, so it’s a lot like a football team.” It’s that trust and teamwork that Nathan took with him both underground and on the field.

His time with the Newcastle Knights began in 2012. Nathan was on weekday shifts at Blakefield South, so had to move from weekdays to weekend nights to accommodate training full time during the week. He would come off night shift on a Monday morning and head straight to training on no sleep, trying to achieve his footy dream. It was at this time Wayne Bennett was coach.

“That was the pre-season Wayne told me rugby league probably wasn’t the right career for me, so I went and played for Kurri where there is obviously a strong mining culture,” said Nathan.

“Kurri is where I fell back in love with rugby league after having my heart ripped out.”

Over the next few years Nathan signed back with the Knights NSW Cup side and in 2015 he finally made his NRL debut after years of perseverance and willpower.

It’s an absolute credit to Nathan Ross’s character and self-belief. From the days of sneaking out of boarding school; the years of being the smaller average player on the field; to then becoming a crowd favourite on the big screen for the Newcastle Knights; Ross fought the entire way.

After some brilliant years with the Knights, Nathan unfortunately had to announce his retirement due to a groin and pelvic injury leading him back to the industry that supported him throughout his NRL journey.

Moving back into mining, Nathan is the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Coordinator at CH4 Drilling. His role is to ensure compliance with all legislation in work health and safety but has also put his focus on embedding a safety culture into the workplace.

“I believe a good culture and making sure people come to work in a fit condition is going to keep them safe and help unlock their full potential,” said Nathan.

“It can be difficult with the number of hours, travel and weird rosters that miners experience, so I invest a lot in what people do away from work.”

“People need to be able to have conversations even if they’re uncomfortable and if you do see your mate doing something wrong telling them to do it properly and safety without the fear of being shut down.”

Losing his career to injury himself, Nathan said he never wants to see anyone go through what he did. It’s obvious that his passion for the mining industry has seen his determination follow him from the football field. No matter what Ross set’s his sights on, you know he’s going to get there.

And with his sights set on safety, Nathan has a message, “Safety is cool, so if you want to be cool, work safely.”

He may need to work on his safety slogan, but it’s clear Nathan’s passion and determination will see great things for the health, safety and wellbeing of the mining workforce.

Equipment

Good. Better. Best.

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Hitachi’s range of mining excavators is a dominant force in Australia. With six machines in their mining line up, they have a solution for every size and type of mine, from the versatile 120t EX1200-7 excavator through to their EX8000-6 weighing in at a whopping 837t.

Available in backhoe and face shovel configurations, these machines are highly regarded and operate globally. Instantly recognisable in their distinctive Hitachi orange, you’re most likely to find the EX2600, EX3600 and EX5600 backhoes working in the Valley.

Sitting in the sweet spot of Hitachi’s diggers is the EX3600. A stalwart of the Australian mining industry, Hitachi has deployed locally over 100 of these 370t excavators since launching the EX3600-5. Now in its third iteration, the Japanese manufactured EX3600-7 is Hitachi’s latest generation machine built upon industry feedback and the Company’s learnings in the field to produce more fuel efficient product for customers.

In a development immediately broadening the appeal of this excavator, miners now have an option of power plant with both the Cummins QSKTA60 or MTU 12V4000 on offer.

Combined with improvements in the machine’s hydraulic system, operators can reasonably expect reductions in fuel consumption between 4 – 7% compared with the previous model (the EX3600-6 with Cummins engine configuration). Further, intelligent management systems including main pump electric regulators on each individually controlled hydraulic pump as well as, a hydraulic regeneration circuit, permit this machine reduced pump demand, enhancing engine power, lowering fuel consumption and increasing productivity.

All too aware of the detrimental effects of dust and moisture ingress, Hitachi has introduced slit-less solid conduit harnesses and junction boxes. In the instance of damage, electrical harnesses between junction boxes can be replaced individually, ultimately reducing maintenance time and cost. Likewise, the cab riser now features a pressuriser system to minimise dust infiltration and extend the service life of electronic components within.

Improving upon a product that customers already like, the hydraulic hoses between the boom and main piping have been rearranged from an arch to underslung configuration removing the need for clamps, reducing deflection and increasing reliability. And I could go on, with features too numerous to contemplate in this article.

Find out more today by contacting your local Hitachi representative or go online at https://hitachicm.com.au/products/excavators.

THANKS TO COMPONENTS ONLY, OUR HEAVY EQUIPMENT EXPERTS

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Mining

NSW Leads Nation with New Facility

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Australia’s only independent underground mine explosives testing facility has opened at Freeman’s Waterhole NSW.

Paving the way for improvements in mine safety and innovation in the mining industry, the new testing facility is under the control of the NSW Resources Regulator’s Mine Safety Technology Centre (RR).

The facility, which is discreetly built on the site of a quarry to reduce impact on the surrounding environment, will be used to determine if locally made explosives are viable and meet vital safety requirements to protect the wellbeing of workers.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro recently launched the first round of explosives testing at the new facility and stated that it positions NSW as the nation’s leader in mine safety development.

“Currently, there are few explosives that can be used in underground coal mines and these kinds of explosives have a very short shelf life, they don’t travel well and need to be developed and tested locally,” Mr Barilaro said.

The RR is responsible for regulating the mining industry in NSW, which includes work, health safety matters through to environmental issues such as mine rehabilitation.

Anthony Keon, Executive Director of the Resources Regulator said the new testing facility is critical to ensure that people can have confidence in the materials and explosives being used underground. “The establishment of this facility will ensure that we’re not stifling innovation,” said Anthony.

“It will give industry and explosive manufacturers access to this test which has previously been unavailable for almost decades.

“There are limited facilities of this type throughout the world and because of the limited shelf life on these products we really need something locally based in order to open up those opportunities for NSW companies and for the NSW mining industry.”

“What the test is trying to do is ensure that explosives when used properly don’t ignite methane; and we’ve seen through numerous incidents throughout the world and even recently in Queensland the ramifications of when there isn’t an ignition of methane.”

Geoff Slater, Manager at Mine Safety Technology Centre said the development of explosives specifically for underground coal mines started back in the1890s at the Greenwich Naval Facility London. Early tests used a small bore cannon and this influenced majority of test facilities since that time.

“The facility at Freemans Waterhole uses concrete culverts and water bags to reduce the noise emissions during testing,” said Geoff.

“Extensive computer simulations were used to determine the best optimum use of the water.”

Test rounds at the facility will be scheduled to meet the needs of industry, at up to two to three times per year, restricted to work hours on weekdays.

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Community

Students Have A Yarn

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St James’ Muswellbrook welcomes a newly constructed yarning circle thanks to the generosity of Malabar Resources.

Fully funded by Malabar, the Yarning Circle will give students and teachers at St James’ Primary School in Muswellbrook the opportunity to sit together and enhance their understanding of Indigenous culture.

A Yarning Circle is an important part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and a harmonious and collaborative way of communicating. It promotes respectful relationships and provides an open environment to share cultural knowledge.

In August Malabar designed and installed the Yarning Circle which involved the placement of more than 5000kg of sandstone blocks.

Malabar’s Manager of Health, Safety, Environment and Community, Donna McLaughlin said, “We are delighted to continue building our relationship with St James’ and other schools in the region by providing resources that help their specific needs.”

“We look forward to seeing the Yarning Circle develop as native plants and artwork are added to the space, which will further facilitate cultural learning and understanding.”

The new space was enthusiastically received by students. “Thank you for this amazing and respectful area where we can teach others about our customs and traditions,” said year 6 student Tushawn.

St James’ Aboriginal Education Teacher, Tania Thompson expressed how thankful they are to have a designated place for our CREST Crew to meet and yarn.

“When we meet as a whole group from K-6 around the Yarning Circle, it gives students the opportunity to bond, form strong ties, and unite as one mob,” she said.

“Communicating, sharing and problem solving as a team are some of the extremely important life skills that we refine when meeting for Yarning Circle.”

“We learn to listen to one another and to respect the ideas and opinions of others regardless of their age, as we all have wisdom to share.”

St James’ will use the Yarning Circle as an extension of their classrooms and teaching practice to foster knowledge of Indigenous culture by engaging both indigenous and non-indigenous students and teachers.

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