Jul 18

Minister visits mine

Northparkes Mines apprentices met with Federal Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, last week. Pictured are (l-r) Karl Oliver, Kelsie Thompson, Jade Walker, Tim Somers, Minister MacFarlane, Andrew McInnes, Sam Denison, Michael Bayley, Thomas Smith and Reece Hartsuyker.Innovation and automation have made industries safer places to work, says Federal Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane, after he visited Northparkes Mines near Parkes last week.

Mr McFarlane made his second visit to Northparkes Mine last Friday, when he reflected on the changes he has seen since his first visit almost a decade earlier.

During his visit Minister Macfarlane toured the mine’s Block Cave Knowledge Centre and met many of the mine’s 18 apprentices, including Bert Evans scholarship holder, first year apprentice, Kelsie Thompson.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Minister met three of eight employees who are this year celebrating 20 years at Northparkes, as well as farmer Geoff McCallum who is about to retire after 18 years of farming.

He also dropped in on the TAFE Frontline Leaders training session, toured the immersion room, spent some time in the simulator and visited SCADA automated operations control room.

“The influence of safety is always prominent wherever I go. However, the big change at Northparkes, since I was last here, is automation,” Mr McFarlane said.

“The challenge for Australia is maintaining our standard of living – technology and innovation, as I’ve seen today at Northparkes, are key to this.”

Loader haul dump (LHD) fleet automation has been a major innovation strategy at Northparkes Mines since 1999.

Northparkes is the world leader in this technology and recently became the first mine in the world to have 100 per cent of the production level accessible to autonomous LHDs.

“The training centre at Northparkes, particularly the trades training area which is used for apprentice training, is an extraordinarily impressive facility.

“The enthusiasm of the apprentices was evident; I could really feel that in all the people I spoke to today,” Mr McFarlane said last Friday.

“Everywhere I looked, everything was well maintained and well ordered – this tidiness suggests the obvious pride of the workforce.”

Northparkes Mine managing director Stef Loader said it was timely for the minister to visit as the mine had reached a significant milestone in automation of underground operations.

“Our apprentices and many others clearly enjoyed having the opportunity to meet him and talk about what we do at Northparkes, particularly in the areas of skills, training and automation, as well as our zero harm operations culture,” Ms Loader said.

“It is a privilege to have a senior member of government, visit Northparkes.

“We were delighted to welcome Minister Macfarlane back to Northparkes and now look forward to thinking about what we can achieve before his next visit.”

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