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MY MINING LIFE – OLIVIA HULBERT

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Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Olivia Hulbert, I am 26 years old and an Environmental Advisor working for Whitehaven Coal Mine Closure Unit. The unit undertakes the rehabilitation of historic and closed mines, and supports rehabilitation for our Gunnedah Open Cut coal mines.  

When did you start in the mining industry and what was your first job?

I joined the Whitehaven Mine Closure team in January 2022 as Mine Closure and Rehabilitation Officer after completing Bachelor studies in Environmental Science and Management at the University of Newcastle. This was my first job in the mining industry.

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

I have always been passionate about the environment from a young age however, I thought my work would be more focused on animals. It wasn’t until university that I realised the significant opportunities that exist within the mining industry to support environmental management.

What’s a usual day at work entail?

As I work across multiple sites in various stages of closure, my days are very different depending on what site I am attending that day. The day generally begins with a catch-up with the production/operations team, then can consist of several different tasks ranging from compliance reporting, environmental monitoring and management, improving environmental awareness through presentations to crews, and working on rehabilitation projects and programs aimed at progressing sites towards closure objectives.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Working with a like-minded and passionate team who have a wealth of knowledge and experience.

The worst thing?

Mining is a highly regulated industry and the ever-changing legislation always keeps us on our toes.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

The mining industry has its own lingo, which I found to be a challenge and similar to learning a new language.

What has been your proudest achievement?

Participating in community days held by Whitehaven Coal. It is rewarding showcasing the work that the Whitehaven Gunnedah Open Cuts Mine Closure team does and providing opportunities for the community to get involved in rehabilitation activities such as tree planting.

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

In mine rehabilitation, we work to a strict criterion as to what we are required to achieve to meet closure targets. This includes the types of vegetation seeded and planted. We source seed and tube stock that has a local provenance and the species that are selected are based on a specific plant community type. It is a thorough and detailed process.

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

One day I received a phone call from a work colleague who was at Sydney International Airport planning to fly out of the country and realised they had the incorrect passport. I jumped on a plane that afternoon to deliver the passport and then back on a plane early the next morning.

What do you do in your downtime?

Trail running! When I am not at work, I am on the trails training for my next ultra-marathon race.

The mining industry gets more than its fair share of criticism. What is your view of our industry and the impact it has?

The mining industry does a lot of work to upskill employees through regular training opportunities. It offers a range of new-to-mining programs where people have the opportunity to gain qualifications while they work. Mining companies also invest a lot in the local community and support a number of community organisations. I’m proud of the work we do at Whitehaven.

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