Industry Q&A: Coal Mine Manager

Australian Mining: What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job? Give us a day in your working life. 

John Turner: My primary role is to oversee and manage the safe and efficient operation of what is a large and busy mine. The mine is managed in accordance with its management operating system which is Mandalong's "Business Management Framework".

A typical day consists of starting early and geting up to date with the current state of operations and any issues that may require further actions by others or myself.

From there it is attending review and planning meetings in line with the Business management Framework and working with members of the Mandalong's Senior Management Team to ensure the mine is working as efficiently as possible.

AM: What training/education did you need for your job 

JT: I studied Mining Engineering at The University of New South Wales, graduating with a BE (Mining) Hons. in 1986
Completed Mine Deputy, Undermanager and Mine Manager Certificates of Compentency
Completed a Diploma in Business Management as well as various other courses etc

AM: How did you get to where you are today? Give us a bullet point career path. 

JT: Studied Mining Engineering at UNSW 1982 to 1985. During this time gained expereince in both underground and open cut coal mining during university vacations.
Commenced work as a miner with Allied Constructions late in 1985
Commenced work as a miner with Newcom Collieries in 1986
In 1987 employed as a junior mining engineer with Newcom and worked at Cooranbong and Angus Place Collieries.
Achieved Deputies and Undermanagers Certificates of Competency and commenced as an Undermanager in 1992
Worked as an Undermanager and then later as a Senior Mining Engineer and Techical Services Manager within Powercoal, achieving Mine Managers Certificate of Competency in 1997.
Commenced first full time role and a Mine Manager in 2000 and have managed Cooranbong, Myuna and Newstan Collieries prior to current position.
Appointed as Mine Manager of Centennial Coal's Mandalong Mine in 2006 and I am currently in that position

AM: What tools and/or sofware do you use on a daily basis?

JT: Main tools are an office, laptop and a phone – even when off site it is easy to keep up to date with activites at the mine. We use the Pulse System for the majority of management tasks and, by necessity, know enough about the various Microsoft Office applications to keep out of trouble.

But the most critical thing is having an office or meeting rooms to conduct the meetings etc that are critical to efficient planning and performance review.

AM: What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?

JT: I am lucky to have been the Mine Manager of Mandalong as it has grown from its original desgin capacity of 3.5MTPA to its current production levels of up to 5.5MTPA. The fact that we can achieve those levels of production from a mine that has been designed to minimise subsidence and other environmental impacts makes me very proud

AM: Biggest daily challenge? 

JT: The biggest daily challenge is keeping up with paperwork, emails etc whilst still ensuring I am spending enough time with the mine's Senior Management Team to support them in their roles.

AM: Biggest career challenge? 

JT: Reducing Injury rates – I have seen a major improvement in safety over my time in the industry, but injury rates are still too high despite a lot of effort to identify and act on the causes.

AM: What is your biggest frustration in your job? 

JT: My biggest frustration is trying to get everything done and still spend enough time underground to ensure that I really understand what is going on, too keep track of standards, understand opportunities for improvement etc.

AM: What is the biggest challenge facing your business?

JT: Our biggest challenge is to continue to increase productivity and decrease our unit costs. There have been major increases in a lot of our inputs costs due to competition for labour and equipment, new taxes etc and at the same time we are looking at significant reductions to coal price so we must reduce our cost per tonnes to ensure the mine generates an acceptable return on the major investement.

AM: Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about? 

Mandalong shows that high production levels can be achieved with a minimal impact to the environment, and I am very proud to be part of that achievement.


This article is part of Australian Mining's new industry map, where we try to build a picture of the mining industry job by job. To be a part of it and take the Q&A yourself click here. 
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