My Mining Life – Liam Lawford

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Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Liam – a proud Wiradjuri and Anaiwan man raised in Newcastle on Awabakal Country. I work for BHP at the Mt Arthur Coal mine as the Indigenous Engagement Specialist. In my role I work closely with our business and community to support improved outcomes by ensuring local context is incorporated into the day-to-day operation and decision making for our mine.  

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

In 2019 I began my first job in mining where I started on BHP’s Internship program, working as a Project Cost Controller. I loved the role, but I particularly loved the team camaraderie which laid the foundation for my career at BHP.

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

It is entirely different. It’s pretty rare when you can say that your work is your passion. To be able to work for BHP while living in my hometown and being able to focus on doing what I love (supporting the connection of people with culture and community) is a dream come true. I feel very privileged to be where I am.

What’s a usual day at work entail?

No two days are the same.  So much is taking place in the community and across the business as we plan for closure. We are developing a Pathway plan that ensures we leave a positive legacy and every day presents a new opportunity for success.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Definitely the people, both in the community and within our organisation. Since starting the role I have met so many incredible people that inspire me on a daily basis. One day I’ll be in the office and the next will be spent on Country with Elders, but no matter where I am it is the people who make the role special.

The worst thing?

There isn’t one. My current position is the best job I’ve ever had. The people I work with, the projects I work on and the outcomes we achieve motivate me every day.

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

My biggest challenge was when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I was in my second year at University and working fulltime. The thought of maintaining that level of commitment while returning home to be with my mother seemed like an impossible task. I put my success down to my support network at the time and will be forever grateful to those people.

What has been your proudest achievement?

Sadly, 18 months after my mother was diagnosed, she passed away. The month before she died, we both sat at the kitchen table with a cuppa and celebrated the fact I had successfully completed University. That is my proudest achievement.

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

The job itself surprises most people. I enjoy spreading awareness of the great initiatives that are taking place between the local Indigenous community and BHP.

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

While attending a workshop lunch with my boss, a pescatarian, she proceeded to tell me how much she was enjoying the lemon ‘fish’ and asked if I had tried some. My response – “That’s chicken, bud.”

What do you do in your downtime?

A weekend in Newcastle isn’t complete without a coffee by the beach. If I’m not there you will likely find me at the basketball court or losing my cool under the hood of my car.

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

I feel the industry is misunderstood and too often only the negatives are portrayed. Before I worked for BHP I too didn’t realise the positive impact the industry provides and the significant amount of work we do in supporting the communities within which we operate. I am proud of the work we do at BHP and I love that my role allows me to work so closely with our local Indigenous community.

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