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A Miner’s Journey


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Author S Coughlan


A personal account of my journey from a student from suburban Melbourne in the 1970s through 40 odd years in and around the mining industry including the important events that have moulded my thinking and, as result, have formed the guiding principles of the mining contracting business and related entities that make up the Byrnecut Group. On reflection the game of chance has played a big part in the journey, from the selection of initial study based on my parents financial capability and the one and only offer of early employment by Western Mining Corporation where the formative phase of my career took place in what was the vibrant can do environment that existed in Kambalda in the 1970s and early 1980s. Subsequently the unplanned meeting with Frank Lubbock drawing me back to Kalgoorlie from Fiji in 1987 and the resultant formation of a private mining contracting business, the excitement of the mid 1980s Kalgoorlie mining environment followed by the turmoil of the 1987 stock market crash where business survival was the game, resulting in a relationship with the German based Thyssen Group.

Thereafter the development of a large privately owned international multifaceted mining services group and the principles behind that growth. These include:

  • development of strategic personnel and retention of those personnel

  • cashflow management and debt within a private company scenario

  • recognising opportunity for synergetic growth but insisting on market forces driving those business elements, as opposed to internal divisions

  • group-wide sustainable business systems, particularly in relation to leading safety and training processes

  • innovation and renewal to provide the elusive advantage in a competitive market

  • the role of entrepreneurial small businesses in development of

The above principles combine to make a margin in a cut throat contracting
environment, competing on the world stage against other contractors and owner
mining options.


Coughlan, S, 2014. A miner’s
journey, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference
, pp 3–10 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: