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AusIMM, Coalface

A recent event at the Moranbah Golf Club gathered the local mining community together in a groundbreaking event aimed at reshaping the conversation around coal.

Sponsored by MEC Mining in partnership with the AusIMM Central Queensland Branch, the panel discussion titled “Repositioning Coal – Bringing Conversations Back to the Living Room” sought to navigate the complex future of coal through innovative solutions and progressive dialogue. @ The Coalface was there to learn and understand more about innovative solutions and the evolving role of coal in our energy future.

The event featured an esteemed panel comprising leaders from the mining industry. Rebekah Rhoades, Mechanical Engineer, Governance & Technical Stewardship – BHP, Gary Parker, Underground Mine Manager, Broadmeadow Mine – BHP, Karl Hunter, Mine Planning Superintendent – South Walker Mine – Stanmore Resources Limited, Paul King, Manager of Mining Engineering MEC Mining, and Moderator Gert Zwingenberger, Senior Mining Engineer – MEC Mining. These experts explored topics critical to the future of coal in Queensland, such as its role in achieving net zero, its economic contributions, and the potential for innovations like green steel, hydrogen, and carbon capture.

Rebekah Rhoades highlighted the widespread misconceptions surrounding the mining sector, particularly among young people and their families. She stressed the importance of broadening knowledge about the industry’s innovation in electrification.

“There’s a lot of misconception about what the mining industry actually is and the opportunities and the unique roles that exist. We need to broaden knowledge around electrification innovation in the industry.”

Gary Parker emphasised the industry’s commitment to community investment and safety.

“We are privileged enough to work in an industry that still sees the value of investing in our communities and improving the quality and benefits to everyone.”

Gary also touched on the crucial aspect of safety management systems and the need for experienced personnel to maintain these systems efficiently.

“Establishing and maintaining robust safety management systems is just the beginning. The critical piece of the puzzle is ensuring we have the right people in the right roles to effectively implement and uphold these systems. This begs the question: do we currently have a workforce that is adequately experienced, skilled and trained to ensure that our mining operations are not only safe but also efficient? It’s a challenge we must address head-on.”

Karl Hunter shared his personal approach to mining, advocating for a more responsible and environmentally conscious perspective.

“I’ve cultivated a personal philosophy that emphasises treating every ton as if it’s invaluable, advocating for more responsible mining practices. It’s clear that emissions are a significant concern for our future and finding solutions, such as electrifying diesel engines, is crucial. This requires a shift in mindset across all environmental aspects of mining. By reevaluating how we view each ton, we pave the way for innovations that not only reduce our environmental footprint but also enhance our operational efficiency.”

Paul King discussed the emerging state of automation and operational efficiency in the industry, acknowledging the potential benefits to human health and safety but also noted the financial barriers.

“Automation and operational efficiency is still in its infancy. The direct benefits to human health and safety are there, but it has to stack up financially to be successful long term.”

The discussions underscored the critical role of coal in Queensland’s energy future and its economy, while also addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by emerging technologies and the global push for environmental sustainability. MEC Mining and the AusIMM’s initiative to bring these conversations to the forefront marks a pivotal moment for the mining industry in Central Queensland.

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