Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Eddy Rowe and I am the Water Infrastructure Manager at Ulan Surface Operations with Glencore Coal.
When did you start in the mining industry and what was your first job?
In 2011 my wife and I moved from the sunny Gold Coast to beautiful Mudgee to be close to family and pursue employment within the mining industry. I was lucky to secure a 6-month contract working with a maintenance crew to restore Ulan’s Marion Dragline ready for open-cut mining in the Waratah Pit.
How different is your job now to what you wanted to be when you were a kid?
As a kid I always wanted to be an ‘inventor’. After 7 years as an Operator/Maintainer, I moved into the logistics department at Ulan and began working with Graduate Process Engineers every day and then eventually realised that Engineering is the ‘grown-up’ word for what I always wanted to do.
In my current role overseeing the water treatment plants at Ulan, my team and I work daily with a variety of engineering disciplines to ensure the efficient processing and discharge of clean water to the environment. We are constantly looking to ‘invent’ better ways to achieve our goals.
What’s a usual day at work entail?
A usual day for me starts with reviewing the last 24 hours performance to identify any potential issues and to ensure adequate resources have been assigned. For the rest of the day, I balance my time between meetings, planning and risk assessments. For me, the best part of the week is the chance to get out into the field. To catch up with our operators and to see the plant in action.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Running daily operations means we are constantly forecasting our ability and then trying to meet those targets. This means there are plenty of opportunities for us to kick goals and to celebrate those outcomes as a group.
The worst thing?
Running daily operations means we always face the possibility of show-stopping breakdowns. Nothing beats a 3 am phone call about what went wrong and how long the repairs will take. Even then, the team will come together and find a solution. Parts will be sourced, repairs completed and before you know it the plant will be performing again.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Coming in from the CHPP to manage our water treatment infrastructure, without in-depth prior knowledge of water treatment has been a steep learning curve. I am thankful to have a knowledgeable team who have been willing and able to share their knowledge and done everything in their power to enable our shared success.
What has been your proudest achievement?
Leading the team to exceed the longstanding all-time record monthly discharge in my 4th month in the job has been my proudest achievement – we had to look at our plant with a fresh set of eyes, identify what was holding us back and then put in place the required changes to allow us to exceed what had before been the limit of our processing ability. Since breaking the monthly record in September of 2022, we have exceeded that same level a total of 5 times!
What’s something about your job that would surprise people to know?
Some people might be surprised to know the high quality of the water we discharge back to the environment and the level of monitoring we perform to guarantee this fact.
What’s a funny story about work that you can tell?
Like everyone else, we all have our weaknesses and mine is the acute inability to tell a funny story. I’m in my prime when I stick to facts and figures and I don’t seem to have the ability to tell any funny story without completely butchering the punchline.
What do you do in your downtime?
In my downtime I enjoy fishing and boating as well as getting outside and hiking. A bit of quiet reflection time outside of work is often where I get inspired with my best ideas.
The mining industry gets more than its fair share of criticism. What is your view of our industry and the impact is has?
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Our modern way of life is entirely dependent upon the industrialisation of everything over the last 200 years. Mining has required the literal blood, sweat and tears of our forebears and it is up to us today to continue the effort to improve our methods and improve our systems in order to improve the outcomes we deliver. Only with this effort can we ensure that our descendants will enjoy the same standard of living that we too have been gifted.
The environment is an essential consideration in all our efforts, and we will continue to work hard to ensure our environment is respected and protected to the best of our ability while providing for our families, contributing to our communities, and mining the resources that are essential to our modern living standards.