Moolarben leader takes home top mining manager honour

Credit: Moolarben Coal Operations

Steven Chandler has been the operations manager at Yancoal’s Moolarben underground coal mine since 2017, overseeing 800 staff. His introduction of several initiatives has been recognised with the Prospect Awards CRC Mine Manager of the Year award.

Nominated by Moolarben human resources and health, safety and training manager Grant Arnold, Chandler’s leadership is backed by the mine’s impressive performance, with year-on-year production increases and productivity improvements.

Arnold says Chandler has been a driving force behind the success of the underground operation in New South Wales.

“He has been the content expert for many of the automation initiatives at the underground operation at the same time as being responsible for the safety, production and responsibility of the operation,” Arnold says.

“(He) has also led the mine management team in the implementation and further adoption as standard operating practices.”

The new automation initiatives include installation of autonomous longwall mining, real-time monitoring and reporting, auto drill feed on bolting rigs, breaker feed light activation and conveyor bunkering.

These automation processes are being investigated by Yancoal’s Chinese parent company, the Yangkuang Group, as opportunities for the company’s other operations around the world.

Chandler has also dedicated much time and effort to support the future of Yancoal and the Moolarben mine as a valuable mentor to other employees at the site.

“He has had the foresight to develop staff and employees at all levels to ensure the long-term viability and success of the underground operation at Moolarben,” Arnold says.

“Chandler has been instrumental in developing and mentoring a new leadership team in the underground operation to ensure the effective management of the underground workforce and delivery of the budget and plans.”

Yancoal’s underground operations at Moolarben started in 2017, the same year Chandler became the underground coal operations manager at the site.

Steve Chandler

As manager of the greenfield underground operation, he was not only responsible for overseeing a safe and productive work environment, but also for recruiting and developing a dedicated and cohesive team.

Since Chandler joined the team and oversaw the start of underground coal operations at Moolarben, the site has welcomed 64 Certificate III in Underground Coal Mining participants and four electrical and mechanical apprentices.

Of those, 70 per cent have gone on to transition into direct full-time positions at the Moolarben coal operations.

“Chandler’s ability to impart his knowledge and to mentor and support a new generation of underground miners is best represented in the numbers of trainees and apprentices that have commenced their careers at the operation since 2017,” Arnold says.

“He has been a strong supporter of the traineeship program for new to industry employees to ensure a long-term growth pipeline of skills for the industry and to deliver meaningful employment outcomes for the residents in the local community.”

With Chandler’s hard work and team management, the Moolarben coal mine is on track to deliver its guidance of 18.5 million tonnes for the 2020 calendar year, which would see production increase by 168 per cent during the period.

Mine Manager of the Year sponsor CRC Industries states that mining managers are essential to any mining organisation as they are responsible for all aspects of a mine operation.

CRC Industries recognises all these qualities in Chandler, who has been instrumental in developing the aforementioned automation and leadership programs at the Moolarben coal mine.

“As a solution provider to the resource industry, CRC Industries understands how essential mining managers are to any mining organisation,” CRC Industries states.

“Management of a mine operation is no mean feat and includes responsibility for teamwork, safety, quality and customer focus among others – fundamentals which also align to CRC’s own global operating principles.”

This article will appear in the December edition of Australian Mining.

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