GREEN LIGHT: Adani staff preparing to begin construction at the Carmichael Mine.
GREEN LIGHT: Adani staff preparing to begin construction at the Carmichael Mine.

Adani, robots, job cuts: How resources events shaped 2019

THE year 2019 has been marked by both tragedy and triumph in the mining and resources sector.

As we count down the days until 2020, the Daily Mercury looks back on the major developments in the industry throughout 2019.

 

TRAGIC MINING DEATHS

THE year began on a sad note as news of a mining fatality trickled through the close-knit community of Moranbah on New Year's Day.

Allan Houston was fatally injured when his bulldozer overturned at BMA's Saraji Open Cut Coal Mine near Moranbah on December 31, 2018.

Sadly, Mr Houston's death was just the start of what would end up being one of the most deadly years in Queensland's mining history.

Just over a month later, on February 2, Bradley Hardwick died when two pieces of machinery collided underground at Anglo American's Moranbah North Mine.

David Routledge was crushed to death at Middlemount Coal Mine on June 26 when a wall collapsed on to his excavator.

This was followed by the death of 27-year-old Jack Gerdes at the Baralaba North Coal Mine.

On November 25, Ipswich father Brad Duxbury, 57, died at Carborough Downs Mine.

MEMORIAL: The Moranbah Miners' Memorial in the Town Square was opened this year to pay tribute to miners who have died at Moranbah mine sites.
MEMORIAL: The Moranbah Miners' Memorial in the Town Square was opened this year to pay tribute to miners who have died at Moranbah mine sites.

SAFETY OVERHAUL AND RESETS

QUEENSLAND'S mine and quarry workers were involved in an industry-wide safety reset as part of the State Government's response to the mine safety crisis.

The raft of mine and quarry safety initiatives introduced in the wake included the addition of three new mines inspectors.

Just days after Brad Duxbury's death on November 25, Mines Minister Anthony Lynham told Queensland Parliament he would be bringing legislation into the House next year to create the offence of industrial manslaughter.

Mining bosses could be thrown in jail for up to 20 years if found negligent, while companies could be slugged with a maximum fine of $13.34 million.

 

ADANI MEGA MINE APPROVED

INDIAN mining giant Adani's Carmichael Mine was finally approved on June 13 after the green light was given for its groundwater management plan.

The decision came after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made a stunning backflip in the wake of Labor's Federal election drubbing, imposing a deadline on her own government to resolve the mine's two final management plans.

In an extraordinary admission, she declared she was "fed up" with the process and ordered the Coordinator-General to intervene.

It followed a 5000-strong protest against the mine, known as the Bob Brown Convoy, which left Hobart on April 17 before making its way to Clermont, then Canberra, where it ended on May 5.

APPROVED: Adani’s Carmichael Mine.
APPROVED: Adani’s Carmichael Mine.

CLIMATE PROTESTERS TARGET CONTRACTORS

ADANI was not the only target of backlash from climate protesters outraged at the Carmichael Mine's approval.

Several protesters stormed the mine site and other infrastructure, suspended themselves from poles and locked themselves to equipment after the mine received the green light.

Companies with offices in Mackay, including Siemens, GHD and Aurizon, were also targeted by protesters over claims by green groups of links with Adani.

Earlier in the year, new penalties were introduced to punish protesters who use "dangerous" lock-on devices.

 

SOD TURNED ON RESOURCES CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE

CONSTRUCTION is now under way on a game-changing Mackay resources project.

In September, local construction company Fergus Builders was awarded the contract to build the $7 million Resources Centre of Excellence.

The joint Queensland Government and Mackay Regional Council project will facilitate industry research, testing, training and collaboration in the region.

It will be delivered in stages, with stage one to include an underground mining simulated training facility and a research lab.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance also provided $475,000 in funding to ensure successful and sustainable operation of the centre.

It is anticipated the entire centre will be open by March 2020.

The Mackay Resource Centre of Excellence sod turning. From left: Fergus Builders construction manager Ben Hilder, Minister for Training and Skills Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Mines Anthony Lynham, Mayor Greg Williamson, Assistant Minister for State Development Julieanne Gilbert and Resource Industry Network general manager Adrienne Rourke.
The Mackay Resource Centre of Excellence sod turning. From left: Fergus Builders construction manager Ben Hilder, Minister for Training and Skills Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Mines Anthony Lynham, Mayor Greg Williamson, Assistant Minister for State Development Julieanne Gilbert and Resource Industry Network general manager Adrienne Rourke.

MASS JOB CUTS AT BOWEN BASIN MINE

THE impact of last year's devastating underground fire at Peabody's North Goonyella mine continued to be felt in the Central Queensland mining community.

The major underground coal mine in the Bowen Basin has been closed since September 2018, when a spontaneous underground coal fire put the long-term viability of the site into question.

After Peabody announced in July that workers would re-enter Zone 1 of North Goonyella, just months later, it announced significant job cuts would take place.

The mining giant said the decision was made in light of new information, which revealed it could take three years or more to restart production at the mine.

On December 18, 170 Bowen Basin mine workers received news they no longer had jobs after the Cook Colliery coking coal mine near Blackwater was placed into voluntary administration.

 

BMA LOOKS TO AUTOMATION

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance announced in November it would roll out driverless vehicle technology with a fleet of up to 86 Komatsu trucks over the next two years at its Goonyella Riverside Mine.

The site will become the first on Australia's east coast to introduce large scale automation.

The company said there would be no forced employee redundancies at Goonyella Riverside as a result of the decision; however, that did not allay the CFMEU's concerns of potential job losses.

BMA said 50 new permanent jobs would be created at a new automation control room to be based at the mine site.


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