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A Carpenter’s Journey through Forty Years of Underground Mining, Leaders and Leading


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Author J Nixon


I have to say that my story is not too much different to many others who grew up and worked in the great mining fields like Broken Hill, Mt Isa, Rosebery, Kalgoorlie or Kambalda and any one of them could have stood up here and spun you a good yarn.

What does my paper offer you in this volume? By sharing my experiences I want to encourage you to consider your own experience with leadership, taking on change, learning from and contributing to the development of others.

I have been very fortunate to be part of many new innovations into underground mining over the past 40 or so years; most of it with Conzinc Rio Tinto Australia (CRA)/Rio Tinto operations.

•From hand-held drills and a homemade single boom Jumbo mounted on an old Airtrak, to the sophisticated twin boom jumbos with high speed drifters all controlled by an on-board computer;

•from a Scraper winch and a Wagner 2D loader to fully automated electric LHDs that navigate to the tipple, empty the bucket and return to where they come from;

•from hand-held cut-and-fill and timber stoping in Broken Hill to the bulk mining methods of a block cave where at Northparkes we mined more ore in a month than we mined in the total five years of operations at Currawang;

•from hand-held scaling and bolting with no skin protection to installing ground support with Jumbos and sophisticated Cable Bolters and the introduction of in cycle shotcrete;

•from hand-held ladder rising and shaft sinking to Box Hole rigs, Raise Bore Machines and Blind Hole shaft sinking; and

•from Gelignite based AN60 stick
explosives, ANFO, fuse firing and half second detonators to Powergel, Emulsions
and electronic computer programmed detonators that can somehow be initiated by
‘Blast Ped’ travelling through the rock.

Nixon, J, 2011. A
carpenter’s journey through forty years of underground mining, leaders and
leading, in Proceedings
11th AusIMM Underground Operators’

3-10 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: