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My Mining Life – Sam Barnes



Who are you and what do you do?

Sam Barnes, East Coast Service Manager at Banlaw.

Any nicknames good or bad?

Barnsy, pretty standard nickname. Luckily I haven’t been labelled with anything embarrassing, well nothing that has stuck anyway.

When did you start and what’s the ride been like?

I first started with Banlaw in 2011 as a field service technician working both interstate and overseas in places such as Asia and West Africa until I took the role as service manager at the end of 2018. I’ve had many challenges along the way but that’s one of the things I like about it as it keeps me excited to come to work every day. Banlaw has always supported me in my career development, since 2018 I have completed a diploma of leadership and management and I’m currently taking part in the Hunternet Future Leaders program.

What’s a usual day at work entail?

I’ve learnt to come to work with an open mind at Banlaw, every day is different and it can change in a blink of an eye. But usually it consists of coffee, meetings, quoting, strategic planning, organising my teams work and managing customer repairs/breakdowns.

How big is the crew?

The East Coast Service team is a group of 6 technicians.

What’s the best thing about your job?

During my travels for work I have had the opportunity to visit the most amazing places both in Australia and overseas that I would never would have went to if it wasn’t for work. West Africa was an amazing experience and I even had the chance to take some time off and travel Europe on the way home.

What’s something about your job that would surprise people to know?

Nearly all our products come into our workshop at Gateshead as raw material and leave as a complete part, tested and ready to use in the field. There are not many companies that still engineer, machine, manufacture, assemble and test all in Australia let alone the Hunter region and it’s something I’m extremely proud of.

The worst thing?

So much of my work is being in front of a computer and I miss being out on site and in front of the customer.

What’s a funny story about work that you can tell?

A few years ago I was on a job in Gunnedah staying in a camp up there and one of the guys I was working with ate so much food for dinner when we got back home the next day he was in so much pain he ended up going to hospital in an ambulance. After he got rid of a few to many pork chops from the night before he was all good, doctor didn’t have to lift a finger.

How different is your job to what you wanted to be when you were a kid?

As a kid I always imagined I would be in a hands on roll requiring physical work, that’s what I love doing in my spare time. I could never imagine being in a position based in an office and actually enjoy it but I’ve found myself excited by the opportunity to take ownership of a department and drive success from a team while given the freedom to achieve business goals.

What would your mum say about you when you were a kid?

Every time I walked out the door to ride my bike “don’t hurt yourself!” I came back nearly every time with a new battle scar.


I’ve only got a small family, but they have always been supportive and encouraged me to be ambitious and chase my dreams. Sometimes you need a little push to step into something your unsure about and that’s how I’ve ended up where I am today.

What do you do in your downtime?

I love getting out and away in my spare time and enjoy everything outdoors, camping, dirt bikes, fishing, 4wding and generally travelling around exploring new places.

What is one thing about you that would surprise people to know?

My apprenticeship was my first ever job and Banlaw is only the second job I have ever had apart from running the milk on a mate’s dad’s milk run when I was younger.


Good. Better. Best.



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


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NSW Leads Nation with New Facility



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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Students Have A Yarn



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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