Children in the Mackay area have been offered a remarkable opportunity by the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal: The opportunity to win $2000.
It’s all thanks to the existence of a rather remarkable children’s character named Hector the Lump of Coal.
Hector has been around for a couple of years, but until now his notoriety has extended only to the borders of the Mackay community.
He even has a TV show on the local Seven network.
Recently a number of anti-mining bloggers have happened upon Hector’s quiet life in Mackay and mercilessly lambasted him on the internet.
Hector has been compared to Talisman Terry, the Fracasaurus, a now deceased children’s mascot who was invented to promote the benevolence of unconventional gas drilling, and portrayed as committing “frackicide” on popular TV news satire The Colbert Report.
One blogger suggested that Hector could be “shipped to China, incinerated in a vast furnace with millions of other Hectors, and become part of the life-threatening smog that blankets Shanghai”.
Left-wing criticism aside, let's check out a few fun facts about Hector from Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal…
Hector was developed by Dalrymple in 2009, and launched through local media.
He doesn’t have any parents (of course, he’s a lump of coal).
He’s actually a piece of coking coal from the Bowen Basin, which for those who don’t know, means he’s the type used for metallurgical processing.
His purpose is to be a fun, likeable character that supports and contributes positively to the community.
He seems to be best friends with a giant, hat-wearing, rolled-up copy of the Daily Mercury.
Hector was named after key landmarks around Mackay, including Hector Beach and Mount Hector.
He encourages children to be proactive with energy saving and to be environmentally responsible, in a manner intended to be reflective of DBCT P/L’s goals to be environmentally responsible.
He also, through his human, co-presenting sidekicks, teaches children to eat their fruit and vegetables, observe road safety, and use sunscreen.
A spokesperson for Dalrymple said the terminal undertakes dust and water monitoring that are above what is required under their environmental licence, as well as ongoing revegetation projects and water quality improvement projects.
Dalrymple also has sodium vapour and LED lighting so that the terminal operation does not inhibit turtle breeding at a local beach.
That’s all good and well, but what about the $2000?
Until the 13th of June, kids in the Mackay area can enter a competition for the money by simply writing a short story about Hector the Lump of Coal for a picture book, no more than 500 words.
Second prize is $1000, and the total prize pool is $4000.
Whether or not Hector is an appropriate character for kids in this climate of global warming, or if he’s a thinly veiled agent of propaganda like the Fracasaurus, remains to be seen.
Australian Mining contacted the principal of the Mackay State School for an opinion, and awaits reply.