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My Mining Life Coalface

Who are you and what do you do?

Ian Flood, Manager Project Development & Approvals, Wilpinjong Coal Mine.

My current focus is gaining approval for our proposed modification and extension plans. The modification will allow access to more productive coal areas without changing our approved annual production rates to 2033. The extension is to operate beyond 2033 and in new areas we’ve been approved to explore.

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

I started as a graduate at Xstrata Mount Isa. The mine had smelters, concentrators and open cut and underground mines, making it a great place to begin my career in mining. Rotating between the business units gave me good experience in these different operations.

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

I always wanted to do a trade, but also had ambitions to play rugby league professionally. I got a contract to play lower grades with the Newcastle Knights and was hopeful of a First Grade spot one day. Injuries put an end to my rugby league ambitions! While at the Knights, I studied Environmental Science at the University of Newcastle.

What’s a usual day at work entail?

Every day is different. The role is strategic and operational. I can be meeting with government representatives, mine neighbours, employees or community members, writing or reviewing documents and budgets or undertaking contract management tasks.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The variety of people I work with and the scope of the role. Wilpinjong is a good place to work if you enjoy getting exposure to tasks a bit outside your normal day job.

The worst thing?

Sitting at the computer and reading or preparing reports and documents.

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

Gaining approval for the Wilpinjong Extension Project in 2017.

What has been your proudest achievement?

Gaining that approval in the timeframe we did. It was a detailed State Significant Development project process, but we secured approval in one of the shortest timeframes in recent decades.

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

That I’m negotiating our mine’s agreement with EnergyCo for their transmission network that goes through our mining land. Coal provides power and we’re helping get renewable power to market as well.

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

I once saw a person at another mine trying to do the breathalyser test at sign in without using the straw. I couldn’t help but laugh as they tried so hard to keep their lips against the hole where the straw goes.

What do you do in your downtime?

I have three daughters aged between seven and 12 that keep my wife and me busy. I like to get to the gym and stay fit.

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

Mining makes a big positive contribution to regional and rural towns like Mudgee as well as local, state and national economies. We provide well paid jobs, and skills local people can take to other sectors and careers. Our procurement supports, even sustains, many businesses.

The taxes, royalties and other payments mines make to all three levels of government, and our community and charity support programs, helps to bring community services, public infrastructure and other social benefits to many Australians.

Coal still plays a major role in providing electricity for Australian homes and businesses. Wilpinjong Mine provides around 25% of NSW coal generated power supply. Coal is critical to produce steel for housing and community infrastructure, including wind farm turbines and other renewable energy projects.

Mining has impacts, but we dedicate significant time and resources to eliminate or minimise them.

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