Kestrel swoops on Prospect awards

It was a triumphant evening for Kestrel Coal Resources at the 2022 Australian Mining Prospect Awards, held in Perth last night.

One of the world’s largest steelmaking coal producers, the Queensland-based mine took off the award for Outstanding Mine Performance as well as the major accolade of Mine of the Year.

Accepting the awards, Kestrel Underground Operations Manager Daniel Proffitt hailed the “special year” for Kestrel, with significant milestones achieved across operations, culture, safety performance and community engagement.

Kestrel’s capability covers the entire mining process from development through to longwall underground extraction, processing, environmental management and sustainable rehabilitation.

The steelmaking coal is shipped through the Port of Gladstone to support manufacturing industries across Asia, Europe and South America.

Since 2019, Kestrel has been the leading producer of underground steelmaking coal across Australia, and with a current run rate of 9.1 million tonnes this calendar year, it is on track to be a leader again in 2022, the same year it recognises and celebrates 30 years of mining operations.

“With purposeful investment into our safety and culture, our values drive high-performance and mateship. In 2022, we have upheld our commitment to developing our people and our frontline leaders, who are at the core of our success,” Proffitt said.

“This year, Kestrel Coal successfully completed the first edition of its leadership program, Unleashed.

“It is Kestrel’s leadership development program — developed by us, for us. In a nutshell, it’s a 12-month mixed-modality learning experience, meaning learning happens through a total of facilitated face-to-face workshops, developed and facilitated by our own leaders, helping to nurture in-house facilitation and presentation skills.

“Through capable and confident leaders, we’re determined to deliver our compelling vision and solid strategy to become the mining industry’s employer of choice — the company where you can do your best work, receive support, learn and develop, and to realise your true potential.”

Swiderski (right) with Gerard Fonceca from sponsor Liebherr.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was posthumously awarded to Ron Sayers, who passed away earlier this year after a long battle with health issues.

Sayers founded mining services company Ausdrill with a single drill rig back in 1987. From this humble beginning in his hometown of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, Sayers grew his business into a billion-dollar ASX200 global mining services company, now the Perenti Group.

Accepting the award, Sayers’ nephew Mark Swiderski said Sayers was passionate about his employees and fostering an outstanding workplace culture, creating an environment where people enjoyed going to work, and looked out for each other.

“Ron perfected the art of the deal, applying principles in work as he did in life,” he said.

“He respected everyone, he acknowledged others who were experts in their respective fields.”

Other winners of awards were:

  • Indigenous and Community Engagement Award

Atlas Iron, for awarding the first major mining contract to an Indigenous-owned company (East West Pilbara) on their traditional land. EWP has a vision to develop a sustainable business based in the Pilbara that will its core be able to be self-sustaining and provide opportunities in its traditional community, the Nyamal People.

  • Excellence in IIoT Application

Flexco Australia (team pictured above), for its Elevate belt cleaner monitoring that lets mining operations remotely gather critical data and perform real-time analysis to boost belt conveyor efficiency, with intelligence that grows over time. Its predictive, data-driven engine lets operations move from traditional methods of monitoring belt cleaner performance to a new way that empowers operations for the future.

  • Excellence in Environmental Management and Sustainability

IGO, for introducing internal carbon pricing (ICP), a mechanism to increase the pace of decarbonisation. In FY21, an ICP of $60/t CO2-e was provided as an incentive to accelerate the delivery of capital investment in abatement projects and energy-efficiency improvements.

  • Excellence in Mine Safety, OH&S

GCG, for its Real-Time Monitoring Application (RTM App), an advanced software solution developed to provide intelligent dust exposure controls management for smarter, faster dust exposure control decisions. GCG’s solution is a global first and is set to trigger a widespread adoption of real-time monitoring to the betterment of worker health.

  • Project Lead of the Year

Stacey Brown, an experienced mining executive who oversees an expanding pProjects team at Atlas Iron. She is responsible for an ambitious pipeline of new projects including traditional hematite operations as well as leading two major magnetite studies, managing all stages of project development from pre-feasibility to site construction.

  • Safety Advocate of the Year

Nigel Gould, Rio Tinto, who is passionate about training and coaching new mine operators, not only on the physical safety aspects of their roles, but how to maintain mental health and seek support if required. Nigel is an active peer supporter on-site, providing a sympathetic ear to workers struggling with mental health issues.

  • Innovative Mining Solution

The SafetySpear by RattleJack Innovation which protects underground miners from free-falling overhead hazards. The item’s lightweight polymer design challenges the assumption that a device has to be heavy to be powerful enough to stop hundreds of kilograms of falling drill rods in a fraction of a second.

  • Paolo De Carolis from Roy Hill with the company’s award.

    Mine Project Success of the Year

Roy Hill, for pioneering the Wet High Intensity Magnetic Separator (WHIMS) plant in December 2019, which allowed capture of high-grade ultrafine iron ore units which would otherwise have ended up as waste. When the original WHIMS first processed ore in December 2019, Roy Hill was the first Australian iron ore company to use magnetic separation in a hematite mine at that size and scale, reducing waste and increasing production by about 4mtpa. Roy Hill has since expanded the plant to include two-stage treatment via magnetic separation.

  • Discovery of the Year

Trigg, for its greenfields discovery of Lake Throssell, a multi-element deposit containing essential minerals needed for global food security and to help address climate change – potassium, sulphur and magnesium. An economic scoping study on just 41 per cent of the 14.4mt of Sulphate of Potash portion of the deposit indicated an initial mine life of 21 years producing 245,000tpa of SOP – making this a world-class project and a potential top-10 global producer.

The Prospect Awards recognise and reward excellence and innovation across the mining sector, and are the most esteemed and prestigious awards program in the industry in Australia.


Editor of industrial titles and mastheads with Prime Creative Media. Publications include Rail Express and Australian Mining (web content).
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