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Hunter Region Branch Newsletter May 2020

Read the 7th Edition of the Hunter Region Branch Newsletter.

Welcome Message from the Chair


It is a privilege to be able to step into the role as Chair of the Hunter Region Branch at this time of unprecedented challenge and change.

Firstly, I want to thank and recognise Nicole Brook for the contribution she made to the Branch over the past two years, and wish her the very best in Tasmania.

It will not be a surprise to you that the usual activity of the Institute, built very much around personal interaction, is significantly disrupted as a result of COVID-19.  I can give you the assurance that the AusIMM is well-positioned to see this crisis through and indeed continue to provide many of its services during this time.  Planning for a more significant move to digital delivery has been part of the Institute’s strategy for a number of years and is being expedited.  You would have seen correspondence in this regard already, and soon the first announcements about electronic conferences will start arriving.

You will see from my background that I have never done anything other than mining and minerals.  I am proud to be part of the minerals industry and personally value the contribution entities such as AusIMM make to our industry, its people and its reputation. Although my membership of AusIMM is obviously more recent, I joined the SAIMM as a student in 1984 and have been a member continuously since!

I look forward to an opportunity to interact with all of you soon and wish you good health.  If you have thoughts about the Branch or its activities, you can reach me and the Committee at

Kind regards,

Hennie du Plooy

Chair AusIMM Hunter Region Branch

Upcoming Events – Hunter Region 2020


Unfortunately our program for the first half of 2020 has been disrupted due to COVID-19, however we are hoping to still run some of our planned events later in the year, subject to government restrictions at the time, including:

Thursday 6 August – Jameson Distinguished Lecture – Newcastle – Dr Megan Clark – Head of the Australian Space Agency

August – Technical talk – Armidale

September – Honours Student Competition – Newcastle

Thursday 22 October – President’s Dinner – Newcastle

November – Ulan Coal Mine – field trip – Mudgee

We have postponed the Coal Quality & Sampling Seminar until next year.

New Members


Congratulations and welcome to the following new members to Hunter Region Branch. We hope to see you at our upcoming events.

Mark Kilburn – Associate

Gregory Fong – Member

Liam Krick – Member

Scott Mackenzie – Student

Michael Weston – Student

Ciaran Moloney – Student

Lynan Muldoon – Associate (Reinstatement)

Congratulations to our Members


The Hunter Region Branch congratulates our Student Member Sian Baynham for winning an AusIMM Education Endowment Fund scholarship and receiving the 2020 Sir Frank Espie/Rio Tinto Leadership Award.

Congratulations also to Peter Stoker OAM, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day 2020 honours list, for service to the mining sector. Peter is actually a member of our neighbouring Branch in Qld, but he has been an ongoing friend of our Branch due to his key involvement in our regular and very successful JORC seminars.

Congratulations to Hennie du Plooy on his election as Chair of our Branch. Hennie is Chief Executive Officer of Port Waratah Coal Services Limited. Hennie has degrees in Extractive Metallurgical Engineering and in Commerce (Accounting and Resource Economics).

Hennie commenced his career in the South African gold industry with Anglo American, then joined Rio Tinto at Palabora Mining Company gaining experience in base metals including copper, nickel, uranium and zirconium.

Since 2002 he has held senior roles within Rio Tinto in Australia, initially as General Manager Operations at Peak Gold Mines in Cobar, NSW. In 2003 he joined the coal industry as General Manager Operations of Blair Athol Mine at Clermont in Central Queensland. This was followed by Brisbane based roles focused on the longer term development of RTCA’s business, including General Manager of Projects and General Manager Resource Development, with responsibility for Resources and Reserves as well as Strategic Mine Planning.

Hennie joined Port Waratah Coal Services as CEO in October 2011. Under his leadership Port Waratah has completed major expansion projects and embarked on a comprehensive culture change and improvement programme aimed at engaging employees directly in step change improvement across the business. He also initiated the implementation of a new and benchmark-setting stakeholder engagement programme to support Port Waratah in securing and maintaining its licence to operate in an increasingly challenging environment.

Hennie is married to Estelle and they have two sons.

The AusIMM Health & Safety Society Distinguished Lecture Series – Singleton


On 26 February 48 members and non-members attended our successful event to hear from distinguished speaker Michael Quinlan on the topic of “10 Pathways to Death and Disaster” based on his book of the same name.

Michael Quinlan PhD is an emeritus professor in the School of Management at UNSW where he taught occupational health and safety (OHS) and risk management. He is also an honorary professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney and an adjunct professor in the Business School at Middlesex University, London.

The topic was what lessons can be drawn from mining disasters and are mine operators, regulators and others drawing the correct conclusions from such events?

Michael seeks to answer this after systematically analysing mine disasters and fatal incidents in five countries (Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the USA) since 1992. He finds that there are 10 pattern causes which repeatedly occur in these incidents, namely:

  • engineering, design and maintenance flaws,
  • failure to heed warning signs,
  • flaws in risk assessment,
  • flaws in management systems,
  • flaws in system auditing,
  • economic/reward pressures compromising safety,
  • failures in regulatory oversight,
  • worker/supervisor concerns that were ignored,
  • poor worker/management communication and trust, and
  • flaws in emergency and rescue procedures.

The vast majority of incidents entailed at least three of these pattern causes, and many exhibited five or more.

Michael gave plenty of real-life examples including Pike River & Beaconsfield, and made the following comments:

  • Safety in mining has improved over the years, but we still need to learn from these failures.
  • There may be a need for a separate system for high impact/low frequency incidents.
  • Impacts on victims’ families are great and they need clear and timely information.
  • There are almost always warning signals.
  • You cannot manage risk in a generic way, need to know your hazards.
  • Questions the practice of outsourcing of expertise.
  • Need a competent inspectorate, and a Chief Inspector.
  • Poor management of contractors.
  • Need to adopt all recommendations of safety audits.
  • The need for a proper regulatory regime, or don’t have an industry.
  • Rotation of managers can be an issue, due to loss of trust and communication.

Our thanks go to Dr. Quinlan, and those present enjoyed the finger food and beverages provided for this free event.

WIMnet NSW – International Women’s Day Guest Speaker – North West Function


On Thursday 5 March 2020, about 35 people attended our successful International Women’s Day event in the North West Region, at Gunnedah.

Deb Maes gave an insightful talk about communication and confidence in the work place.

Those attending enjoyed the light finger food and a drink on arrival, and the lucky door prizes drawn.

Epiroc Scholarship – Applications Open


Students can fast-track their career in 2021 and apply for a scholarship with Epiroc and experience their operations in Australia and around the world, including a trip to Sweden to visit Epiroc facilities and Swedish mines.

The scholarship is open to AusIMM Student members studying at Australian, New Zealand and Papua New Guinean universities in the final two years of their Bachelor’s Degree in technical courses of relevance to the resources industry.

Find out more

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