19 July 2021

Clontarf students tour the many roads to mining

Young men from Clontarf Academies in Quirindi and Oxley had the opportunity to learn from some of Whitehaven’s leading employees and their diverse pathways to a rewarding career in mining on a visit to the Werris Creek Mine in June.

Whitehaven has partnered with the Clontarf Foundation since 2016. The Foundation exists to improve the education, discipline, self-esteem, life skills and employment prospects of young Aboriginal men and by doing so, equips them to participate more meaningfully in society.

Werris Creek Mine Operations Manager Craig Sullivan led the 14 students on a tour of the mine, introducing them to members of his team who provided in-depth accounts of what they do and how they arrived at a career in mining.

“Taking these students on a tour of Werris Creek is an opportunity to open their minds to the many different skills and professions we rely on to operate a mine at the highest level

“It’s also a great chance to have our own people, who work across a range of areas, tell their stories about how they got to where they are and the many roads you can travel to establish a fulfilling career,” Craig said.

Whitehaven Operator Mick Clarke spoke to the students about his personal pathway into the mining industry.

“I started out as an Aboriginal Education Officer at Werris Creek Public School before beginning my career in mining at Whitehaven’s Werris Creek Mine as an operator,” said Mick.

“Having heard about the invaluable work that the Clontarf Foundation was doing, I jumped at the chance to work with them and the students they support across NSW and Australia. Eventually, I moved back into the mining industry as a multi skilled operator, where I get to use all the skills I’ve developed over the past seven years.

“Hopefully my story resonated with the young men and gave them some insight into the dedication and passion that’s at the centre of a rewarding career, wherever it leads you.”

Environmental Superintendent, Matt Hollis, similarly spoke about his own pathway to mining, telling the students: “It’s never too early to begin thinking about your post-school plans. I initially considered studies in town planning and environmental law but found greater interest in environmental science and engineering. I have been working in environmental and resource management for more than 16 years and became the environmental superintendent here at Werris Creek in 2019.

“What’s been consistent from high school until today has been the benefit from continued learning and study combined with my personal drive to be the best I can be.”

Whitehaven is proud to support Clontarf students become job-ready once they leave school and in July will assist Year 12 students from the Academy at Narrabri High with mock job interviews.

Whitehaven has also invested in making its mines more accessible to students, purchasing and donating personal protective equipment to Clontarf for future site visits.

Whitehaven has worked with Clontarf through regional Employment Forums, hosting site visits, and, with the company’s support, Clontarf established an Academy at Narrabri High School in 2019. In 2020, there were 64 young men across years 7 to 12 participating in the program at Narrabri High.

Since 2000, Clontarf has helped more than 4,782 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men complete Year 12 and find employment.

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