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Peter Walsh MML

Peter Walsh started as an apprentice at the NSW coal mine, Hunter Valley Operations (HVO). Forty years later he is leading its proposal to continue mining until 2050.

Who are you and what do you do?

Peter Walsh, Project Manager, Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) Continuation Project.

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

I started my career as an apprentice fitter and turner in 1984 at Lemington No1 Underground. Lemington had two underground mines, two CHPPs and an open cut mine. The open cut was the beginnings of what is now HVO South. I received great training and was fortunate to win several apprentice of the year awards in those formative years.

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

Growing up, I was surrounded by tradesmen or engineers – mostly electrical. I wanted to be an engineer, but I also wanted a trade background. It took me more than 10 years to complete my engineering degree, but I did that in 1996. I moved into projects work in 2007 which is another application of those skills altogether.

What’s a usual day at work entail?

Project work is different every day. At the moment we are working to gain approvals for our Project from both the State and Federal governments. We are also completing the design on our proposed realignment of Lemington Road and the new Newdell Stockpile. We are also constructing a flotation plant and soon the ROM upgrade.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The technical, commercial and regulatory challenges we have to work through. Having to think strategically and tactically daily. Then there’s the daily working with people, especially to ensure we are safe in our construction.

The worst thing?

Too much to do in one day.

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

Challenges come and go daily and it’s my job to work through them. Gaining approval for HVO to continue mining will be by far the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome.

What has been your proudest achievement?

I am still surprised I have the position I do. I am enormously grateful for the opportunities the mining industry has been able to offer me and for the family support I’ve always had.

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

I’ve had the opportunity to work in Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and Canada. After all that I am back in the Hunter Valley.

What do you do in your downtime?

My family has now grown up so occasional weekends with them, but cricket is my downtime. I play for Newcastle Hunter Veterans Cricket and also fill in for some local club cricket games.

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

I don’t think a lot of people appreciate how much the Australian mining industry, and indeed the NSW coal industry, contributes to their standard of living and the daily expectations of how their world works. Yes, we have an environmental impact, but we put in a lot of work to minimise our impact. Minimising and abating greenhouse gas emissions is something we factor into our mine design and operations too, but we can’t turn off Australian coal mining instantly and maintain the lifestyles we enjoy.

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