The Prospects are booming

NEVER mind that we’re in a resources boom; we’re in a technology and innovation boom!

The 4th Annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards has attracted the strongest field with more than 70 finalists — that’s about six per category.

Growth and prosperity in the industry has precipitated development of new and innovative technologies, and more efficient and productive methods of mining — just what the Prospect Awards is all about.

Standout themes in this year’s awards were the environment, safety and technology.

Solutions to mitigate dust feature heavily. One company developed an innovative and permanent solution to lime kiln dust; another finalist – an innovative dust collection and disposal system; and another compmany – an effective means of suppressing the dust from coal processing and transportation.

Another company has designed a de-wetter capable of mixing hydrophobic materials and powders in mining processes, without dust and heavy lifting problems with the mixing of ingredients.

Among the impressive field of innovation solutions was a deflating muffler developed by Alcoa to reduce noise from earthmoving tyres during deflation.

Another innovator has developed a monitoring system that can be placed in a vehicle to provide an early warning of drowsiness.

Centannial Coal Myuna deserved a finalists spot for a support system that eliminates the exposure of mineworkers to unsupported roof areas during continuous miner maintenance or breakdown repairs.

Another innovative solution was a visual system to support data and workflow management across the entire production chain from geology, modelling and design, through to scheduling and reconciliation. The solution allows mining engineers and corporate employees to have instant access to information about mine site operations.

The Prospect Awards also revealed some outstanding and innovative solutions to environmental issues. Alcan earned a finalists spot for its innovative practices to rehabilitate the Gove mine site to a standard acceptable to traditional landowners.

It was particularly pleasing to see such a strong field vying for our two new awards: the Most Outstanding Contribution to Mining Award, and the Community Partnership of the Year Award.

Jeff Whittle, Jim Boland, Mike Eager, Pat Stephenson and Paul Gottlieb are all worthy candidates of the Most Outstanding Contribution to Mining Award.

Well done to Community Partnership of the Year Award finalists: Alcan, Alcoa, Oxiana, Ensham and McArthur River Mining, for their efforts in building better relationships with the community.

Given the focus on skills shortages, and given the level of importance that the industry now places on the issue, it also gives me great pleasure in announcing a late, but significant new category: the Mining Employer of Choice Award. This inaugural award will be presented to Argyle Diamond Mine for innovation and best practice in attracting, training and retaining personnel from the local Aboriginal community.

Finally, a big thanks to journalist and Prospect Awards entry coordinator Daniel Hall for his hard work in bringing together such a quality field of candidates.

See pages 49 to 74

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.