Events, Features

Prospect Awards finalists exhibit mining’s best

Finalists for the 2021 Australian Mining Prospect Awards are now locked in with the top mines, as well as the best and brightest in safety, minerals processing and more on show.

The Prospect Awards is a must-see event that showcases the best innovations and projects developed by mining and METS (mining equipment, technology and services) companies, ensuring outstanding individual and team performances are recognised.

Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 awards show will go ahead, albeit on March 17, 2022, at The Greek Club in Brisbane.

Prospect Awards events manager Lauren Winterbottom thanks each of the talented individuals and organisations that submitted an application.

“Each finalist reflects the innovative prowess of Australia’s mining industry and the potential it exhibits in the face of adversity and global transformation,” Winterbottom says.

Coal Mine of the Year – sponsored by SEW-EURODRIVE

This award recognises a coal mine that is performing well or has carried out an innovative project or program like last year’s winners, the Moolarben operation in New South Wales. 

The finalists are the Kestrel coal mine, owned by Kestrel Coal Resources, and Yancoal’s Yarrabee coal mine, both in Queensland. 

Kestrel has been recognised for its hard work and high-performing teams who have made the operation one of Australia’s highest producing underground longwall coal mines.

The mine produced 3.45 million tonnes of coal for the first half of 2021 before it managed to complete a longwall move in less than 23 days from July to August. 

Yancoal has been recognised for its new cultural framework, said to have influenced every area of its improved performance in 2021. 

During 2020-2021, Yarrabee broke all previous monthly and quarterly records for drilling and explosives loaded. 

It also became the first mine in Australia to implement the new Hitachi 800 tonne excavator, the EX8000-7. 

Contract Miner of the Year – sponsored by Epiroc

This award recognises excellence in contract mining, engineering, projects and services.

For the second year in a row, Mader Group is a finalist, alongside newcomer MEC Mining.  

Mader Group has grown from a one-man business in 2005 to an ASX-listed firm that had a market capitalisation of $226 million in September 2021. 

It provides specialist maintenance support for heavy mobile equipment and fixed infrastructure in mining and civil industries. Its value on the ASX increased by more than 20 per cent in the 2021 financial year. 

MEC Mining’s Productive Solutions offer holistic consultation to clients whose challenges have been compounded by the pandemic, and by the volatility of a sector facing increasing scrutiny of environmental and safety practices. 

In early 2020, MEC was approached by an ASX-listed mining multi-national publicly committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions associated with its on-site activities.

MEC has continued to aid in the development of these goals, conducting a wide-reaching assessment of operations to develop five rigorous scenarios, from FY21 to FY70.

Hard Rock Mine of the Year – sponsored by Epiroc 

This award turns the focus on hard rock mining and the businesses performing well or undertaking innovation projects to better themselves and the industry. 

New Century Resources is a finalist for two awards this year, the first of which sees its Century zinc mine up for Hard Rock Mine of the Year. 

Century had a transition to an owner-operator model, which saw teams take on initiatives in water saving through hydraulic mining and concentrate loading in the Gulf of Carpentaria. 

The Roy Hill iron ore mine has been selected after it delivered a record equivalent annual run rate of 60 million tonnes in the June quarter of 2021. 

This was despite a range of restrictions that hampered the wider industry, including inclement weather, COVID-19 restrictions and a skills shortage. 

New programs at Roy Hill included a new autonomous haulage system, a new crusher and overland conveyor system, and the continuation of the award-winning Wet High Intensity Magnetic Separator (WHIMS). 

Indigenous Engagement Award

The Indigenous Engagement Award, for which finalists are selected based on significant collaboration with Aboriginal-owned businesses, continues to increase in recognition. 

Finalists in 2021 include Atlas Iron, iCutter Industries and Sandvik.

Atlas Iron attracted plenty of attention for its record-breaking contract to Indigenous business East-West Pilbara (EWP) for load and haul, and drill and blast services for the new Miralga Creek mine in Western Australia. 

The Hancock Prospecting subsidiary saw EWP as the best choice for the job as it is directly connected to the Traditional Owners of the land on which Miralga Creek will operate, the Nyamal people. 

iCutter is an Australian owned and operated Indigenous business in the drill and blast sector, based in Mackay, Queensland. 

Through BHP’s Local Buying Program, iCutter has worked with the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and takes discarded drilling tools for refurbishment. If refurbishment is not possible, iCutter sustainably repurposes or recycles the discarded tools.

Sandvik has launched its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which contains almost 100 key actions across pillars of respect, relationships, opportunities and governance in working with Australia’s Indigenous communities. 

One action was to investigate opportunities to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders into the Sandvik supply chain and this welcomed partnerships with Yakeen Safety, Geared Up Culcha and Mirri Mirri Productions. 

Mine Manager of the Year – sponsored by CRC

This award takes a closer look at the individuals driving the success of Australia’s leading mining operations. 

Finalists hail from mining giants Glencore and Yancoal. 

Glencore mine services superintendent at the McArthur River coal mine, Carrie Heaven, has risen through the ranks since she entered the industry as a geotechnical engineer in 2011. 

Since working at McArthur River, Heaven has vastly improved the operation’s female bathroom facilities, established a mining engineer cadetship program and an Indigenous employment program.

Outside of the mine, Heaven has advocated for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and lectured at the University of Tasmania where her career began. 

Yancoal’s Cris Shadbolt joined the company three years ago as the mining manager and quickly earned his way to becoming the operations manager at Yarrabee coal mine. 

Shadbolt has helped to implement a program at the mine called the Yarrabee Way, which looks to improve people, safety and proficiency. 

Minerals Processing of the Year

This award recognises a mine, company or project that has developed or carried out an innovative or unique minerals processing program that increased efficiency, productivity or safety. 

Lynas Rare Earths has been named a finalist in recognition of its work optimising the milling and flotation circuit at its Mt Weld site in Western Australia. 

The project differs from others across the industry due to the flotation of phosphate minerals compared with sulphide minerals in gold and base metals mineral processing plants. 

The new processing flowsheet and reagent addition significantly reduced the flotation circuit heating requirements which resulted in a 19 per cent reduction per year in diesel use to heat the boiler. 

New Century Resources received its second finalist in minerals processing for the commissioning of its Jameson cell at the Century mine. 

The company worked with Mineralis Consultants to effectively implement the Jameson cell circuit upgrade to achieve recovery grades of 50 to 54 per cent. 

Metso Outotec is also recognised for its work increasing gold recovery at AngloGold Ashanti’s Sunrise Dam gold mine. 

This was achieved using six TC200 TankCell flotation units, one 14-metre-high rate thickener and one HIGmill – the HIG3500/23000. 

Safety Advocate of the Year – sponsored by Flexco

As regulations hone in on weaknesses in health and safety, this award looms as an important one to win. 

Boom Logistics, Fenner Dunlop, Mitchell Services and Lyons Air Conditioning Services have all been recognised for their contribution to worker health and safety this year. 

Boom Logistics is Australia’s largest national crane and lifting company and therefore has a significant responsibility to maintain safety across the business. 

Thanks to its Safe Act Observations principle, the company more than doubled its annual safety observations from 2019 to 2021 while reducing its total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) from 8.6 to 5.1.

Fenner Dunlop has implemented a list of safety initiatives in its pursuit of total safety for its employees, thanks to general manager of safety, training and technical Vicki Wust. 

These included a mechanical advanced course, a collaboration with SafetyCircle, centralised training records and a relaunch of its Trust Yet Verify program. 

Lyons has partnered with a US-based company which leads the cabin filtration space and has literally helped to set the standard on cabin filtration. 

The ISO23875 cabin filtration standard is being rolled out across Australia, thanks to Lyons’ help, and companies like Rio Tinto, Epiroc and McMahons are looking to keep up to date with it. 

Mitchell Services has implemented its frontline-driven fatal risk management initiative. By engaging with on-site operators, Mitchell has improved the operators’ understanding of critical risks on the job with a bottom-up approach to health and safety. 

In the 12 months since commencing implementation, there has been more than 1000 inspections incorporating more than 22,000 verifications of individual critical controls.  

Excellence in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Application

The Excellence in IIoT Application award highlights an outstanding implementation of IIoT that enhances mining and minerals processing. 

Finalists for this forward-thinking award include Fenner Dunlop, Flexco, Coolon and Pitcrew AI.

Fenner Dunlop has been recognised for its iBelt solution, which transforms conveyor maintenance processes to monitor, plan and access predictions in real-time both on and off site to boost productivity. 

Flexco has put forward its Elevate i3 Device, which acts as a wireless platform that can transfer real-time data remotely from an intuitive digital dashboard. It has been specifically designed for belt cleaner performance in heavy-duty operations such as mining.

LED lighting company Coolon received a finalist nod for its Coolon Brilliant Connected lights product, which contain smart wireless networking nodes that automatically create a wireless mesh network to enable IIoT services to operate.

Pitcrew AI has been recognised for its Autonomous OTR Tyre inspection product, which is a solar powered solution that inspects damage to OTR tyres that are seen on many mining vehicles without human intervention.

Excellence in Environmental Management

The Excellence in Environmental Management award recognises a mine, company or project that has carried out a forward-thinking environmentally focussed program.

This year’s finalists include Gold Fields, Yancoal, Geoimage and SoilCyclers.

Gold Fields submitted its Agnew hybrid renewable project for its ability to deliver 50 to 60 per cent clean energy with 99.99 per cent reliability, setting a global benchmark for renewable energy in mining. 

Coal miner Yancoal has received a finalist position for its rehabilitation of the Premier Coal operation in Western Australia into Lake Kepwari.

Geoimage’s groundWATCH digital application has also been recognised for its ability to allow systematic viewing of ground changes.

SoilCyclers has achieved finalist status for its Recycling Overburden and Mine Void Water collaboration, which was successful in rehabilitating Idemitsu’s Ensham coal mine in Queensland.

Excellence in Mine Safety, OH&S – sponsored by Vocus

Safety is a crucial factor at any mine site and is highlighted by the Excellence in Mine Safety, OH&S award, which is awarded to a mine, company or project that has increased safety, removed risk or reduced worker issues.

This year’s finalists are Yancoal, Road Safe Moranbah, Mitchell Services and Mader Group.

Yancoal will compete for the award with its Yarrabee Way – Safety Culture Framework, which is developed by the company’s workers to understand and control its risks. 

Road Safe Moranbah has been recognised for its ability to target community safety following a fatal crash on the Peak Downs Highway. It also focusses on data collection for the Sunshine Coast University to drive further safety research. 

Mitchell Services submitted its Frontline-driven Fatal Risk Management, which has developed and implemented a critical risk management system that is focussed on workforce-led critical thinking and innovation.

Mader Group is recognised as a finalist for its Improving Fleet Safety program, which involved the adoption of an in-vehicle monitoring system that provides live tracking of drivers.

Innovative Mining Solution – sponsored by Austmine

The Innovative Mining solution award recognises a mine, company or project that has developed a unique mining solution for the industry. 

Finalists for the award comprise Aggreko, Geographe, newGenGroup and Technofast Industries. 

Aggreko’s Aggreko Virtual Gas Power Plants has been put forward for developing the first mining power station that includes the application of gas generators and a virtual pipeline of LNG to power an underground mining operation which reduces diesel power. 

Geographe has also demonstrated innovation through its Geographe Ball Stud Removal Tool, which is a safer, faster and quieter method of removing ball studs from heavy equipment to save significant labour costs.

newGenGroup has received a finalist position for its ArmourGRAPH solution, which uses graphene nano-platelets to enhance wear materials through areas including abrasion resistance and tear strength.

Technofast Industries has submitted its Technofast EziTite Hydraulic Head Nut for the award, which replaces solid mechanical nuts of gyratory rock and ore crushers to enhance safety cut downtime and provide easy installation. 

Thank you to Prospect Award sponsors National Group, Liebherr, SEW-Eurodrive, Epiroc, Austmine, Flexco, CRC and Vocus for supporting the program. 

Thank you to Prospect Award sponsors National Group, Liebherr, SEW-Eurodrive, Epiroc, Austmine, Flexco, CRC and Vocus for supporting the program. 

Tickets for the evening are now available online at

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