My Mining Life: Ben Edwards
Who are you and what do you do?
Ben Edwards – Mobile Maintenance Superintendent at Bengalla Coal Mine.
When did you start in the mining industry and what was your first job?
I started in the early 1990’s as an apprentice plant mechanic at Drayton Coal.
How different is your job now to what you wanted to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a National Parks Ranger but that meant going to Uni which didn’t excite me, so I decided to get a trade and have never looked back. Funnily enough I’m studying at Uni now.
What’s a usual day at work entail?
Start a 5am, check in with the off going nightshift and prep for a series of daily meetings. Get out in the workshop chatting with the trades and supervisors, safety interactions and general feedback. Meetings with OEMs and planning or engineering. Check in with the supervisors again on how the shift is tracking before heading home around 3:30pm.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Leading this excellent maintenance team and having the constant support of the leadership group around me.
The worst thing?
Having team members affected by serious illness. Last year we had 3 techs battle prostate cancer which is why Movember and the other fundraising initiatives are so important to raise awareness and money for research into a cure.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Becoming a supervisor. The shift from “one of the boys” on the shop floor to a supervisor role. It’s a tricky transition and I made a few mistakes, but you learn from these.
What has been your proudest achievement?
Being offered the Mobile Maintenance Superintendent role at Bengalla Coal.
What’s something about your job that would surprise people to know?
My role is around 80% people/team focused and making sure they have what they need to perform their job and 20% on the actual machines and maintenance issues.
What’s a funny story about work that you can tell?
When I was an apprentice my tradesman and I were tasked with carrying out some repairs on a pump that was located in a dam on the outskirts of the mine lease. Upon arriving at the small dam, we found a large kangaroo stuck in the deep mud. The animal had been there a while and was exhausted. My tradesman was determined to save the roo so he stripped down to his undies and dragged a rope out and tied it around its middle. I pulled on the rope and he lifted the roo up. We got the animal on solid ground and he proceeded to clean it up with a rag. The roo suddenly jumped to its feet, rocked back on its tail and kicked my tradesman in the groin and hopped away. He dropped withering in pain and covered in smelly mud. I couldn’t stop laughing at him. He didn’t find it funny though.
What do you do in your downtime?
We have a small farm, 3 teenage boys, and I’m studying Asset and Maintenance Management at Uni so not a lot of down time. I have a busy life but enjoy hunting and fishing when I get a chance.
The mining industry gets more than its fair share of criticism. What is your view of our industry and the impact is has?
The mining industry is a wonderful industry that makes a fantastic contribution to the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, and Australia. It has provided me the opportunity of a great career, being able to work with great people and to support my family. Where would Australia be without mining? We should all ask ourselves that question.