‘Coal-face’ miners and community the focus of Hunter Mining Show 2015
Mine workers at the industry’s ‘coalface’ are an integral part of the Hunter Mining Show 2015, which opens at the Singleton Civic Centre, New South Wales, on Thursday, March 12.
"On the Friday morning, we are putting on a free ‘miners’ breakfast’ from 7 am, sponsored by Sandvik Mining, and timed to coincide with the shift changes at most of the region’s mines," Mining Show and Coal Festival chair Peter Eason says.
"We’ve issued an open invitation to all miners coming off shift – or those who may be rostered off that day – to come along and enjoy a barbecue breakfast. It will also be a chance to have an informal chat to Beaconsfield mine survivor Brant Webb, catch up with mates, and then tour the show when it opens from 8 am."
Webb will also be a featured speaker on all three days of the show. On the Thursday, he’ll participate in two panel discussions, on ‘Mental health in mining’ and ‘Emergency preparedness in mining’.
In addition, each day he will tell the story of the Beaconsfield tragedy from his point of view. For this, he will be joined by Coal Services’ David Connell, who was involved in the emergency response at Beaconsfield.
These presentations will take place in the Blackwoods Pavilion, which takes up the entire Singleton Civic Centre, around lunchtime each day (times vary slightly, so please check the Hunter Mining Show website for details).
"We’ve had enormous interest from mines and mine workers in the region in hearing Brant speak," Eason says. "In the three days before the show opens, he will be doing presentations at a number of mines, talking about safety and health issues – including the aftermath of being involved in a tragic accident.
"He tells a very compelling and emotionally charged story, and his presentations are not to be missed."
While the show will have a very strong focus on business-to-business opportunities and networking, in what is believed to be an industry first for the region, it seeks to actively engage with the local community – not just businesses and industry, but the wider community as well.
It is an event strongly driven by the local business community – being owned by the Singleton Business Chamber – which had a vision of engaging and involving the entire community.
For this reason, the Hunter Mining Show was conceived from the outset as being an integral part of the three-week Hunter Coal Festival – for which the show is the launch event, Eason says.
"The mining industry these days is very much about its licence to operate, and we saw the Hunter Mining Show as being an ideal way of bringing the industry into the community, and facilitating their interaction," he says.
The show culminates in the Hunter Coal Festival Community Day at Singleton Civic Park on Saturday, March 14.
"The Community Day will be a fantastic opportunity for the entire community to come and see the best of what the mining industry has to offer – and that’s not only in terms of the latest products and services at the show," Eason says.
"The Community Day also offers show visitors the chance to tour local mine sites and see their impressive rehabilitation programs, see a full-on simulated mine accident and rescue operation, engage with the latest virtual reality technology mine safety and training systems, and enjoy some strenuous physical activity through the coal-shovelling contest."
Eason says that despite the mining industry and coal sector attracting adverse publicity at present, including ‘doom and gloom’ stories about the mining downturn, the timing of the Show and the Coal Festival aimed to counter much of this negativity.
"Although coal’s outlook into 2015 could be viewed as being ‘precarious’, we all need to remember that the Hunter Valley’s coal seams remain one of our state’s best assets," he says. "Coal needs to be very well managed and extraordinarily well planned, so we need good forward indications of likely scenarios, so we can minimise surprises.
"Coal is a really valuable community ingredient, and through the Show and the Festival, we need to strengthen that.
"We also hope the show, and the festival, will encourage industry decision-makers to develop the region’s assets in both an economically and socially responsible manner. We want to make sure we don’t lose these assets, but we also need to make sure we don’t destroy the essence of the Valley," Eason adds.
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