A Central Queenslander spent half a century at a mining operation in the Isaac region.
Neville Williams recently celebrated 50 years of service at BHP’s Goonyella Riverside Coal Mine, 207km southwest of Mackay.
Since joining in 1972 Williams worked his way up from trades assistant and tried almost every operational role. The mine site only used to be accessed via dirt roads and employed between 300 and 400 people back then.
“When Goonyella started there was nothing outsourced. We had our own painters, plumbing shop, carpenter shop and light vehicle workshop. We had our own light vehicles. We did not lease them,” he said in a public statement.
“Everything was done inside the mine site. If there was carpentry to do our own carpenters would do it at a workshop here on site. There was also a lot less paperwork.”
The operation now has more than 2000 employees, some of whom have already been redeployed to autonomonous haulage (AH) roles.
When Williams, who was dragline operator at the time of publication, first heard of BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA’s) 2020 plan to switch to driverless machinery he thought management was “dreaming”.
“To think that within less than three years we would have 80 Komatsu trucks driving themselves, well, I really did not expect that,” he said.
“The biggest thing was getting over that fear of the technology … [and,] I had a terrible time first up but in the end – once I got used to it – it was not hard for me.”
His advice for anyone who wants to stay with employer long-term is to always be punctual.
“I just set my alarm,” he said.
“I have looked after myself pretty well and I think BMA has looked after me well too. It is a little bit hard to believe but I still get a little bit of a hit at the big equipment.”
Williams has two daughters who live locally in Moranbah and overseas in Canada.