My Mining Life – Dave Foster

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Who are you and what do you do?

Dave Foster, General Manager, Hunter Valley Operations (HVO).

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

I started my mining career at HVO as the Mine Operations Engineer before moving into a Production Superintendent role. After 13 years working at Liddell and Bulga coal mines, I returned to HVO in January 2023.

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

As a kid I desperately wanted to be a fighter pilot. I went through the extensive application processes for the air force at the end of high school, and after all that they determined I was more suited to engineering. Turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me.  

What’s a usual day at work entail?

Every day is different. HVO is a large and complex operation with more than 1200 employees and hundreds more contractors on site. We work with 700 suppliers. There is something new to challenge me every day.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Working with so many different people. The most satisfying part of my role is working to develop our people and in turn improving the performance of the mine.

The worst thing?

HVO is a such a big and complex operation. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to achieve.

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

Being General Manager at HVO is definitely the biggest challenge I have faced, yet it presents many opportunities. This mine has such a big future which I am proud to be a part of.

What has been your proudest achievement?

I am always proud when I see my direct reports get promoted. Whilst it is difficult to lose them, it is more satisfying to see their personal and career growth.

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

That I’m abseiling down McDonald Jones Stadium on June 30 to raise funds for Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. I can’t find that task in the job description! HVO has a long standing partnership with the chopper service. Our staff support it through Workplace Giving too, so I want to step up and contribute to this great community service.

I was asked to be the face of a Glencore advertising campaign, for which I still receive endless ribbings from colleagues.

What do you do in your downtime?

There isn’t a lot of downtime in the Foster household. My three kids are heavily involved in sport, particularly rugby, rowing and netball. My wife and I love watching them play and being involved where we can. We own a ski boat, which we enjoy getting out on to Lake St Clair.

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

Mining makes a very positive contribution to the community and local and national economies. The Federal Budget surplus is an example. HVO’s direct economic contribution in 2022 was a staggering $1.5 billion. We partner with many local businesses and local farmers to boost their business. Our staff generously give back to many charities through Workplace Giving. Last month our apprentices volunteered to help Landcare plant 400 trees, including endangered species, at the Lake Liddell Recreation Area.

We do acknowledge climate change and are working hard to minimise environmental impacts while society enjoys the benefits of our work and the energy we currently help to provide.

You can support Dave as he takes the leap for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Services at:

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