28 May 2021

First locals start mining careers through new traineeship program

Gunnedah local Lachlan Cochrane is a few weeks into his new career in mining, as part of the first few trainee operators joining Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal mine through a new program to encourage locals into the industry.

Whitehaven and Programmed have together developed a program that offers trainees the chance to work on-site, learning to operate dump trucks, and results in a nationally recognised Certificate III in Surface Extraction Operations at the end of the two-year program.

After high school, Lachlan (23) knew he wanted to learn a trade so completed a plastering apprenticeship. But after working as a full-time plasterer, he was soon ready for a new challenge.

“I’ve always had a love for mining and seeing as how my brother is in the mining business, it kind of made sense as the next step for me,” said Lachlan.

“Staying local was important to me and that’s why the Maules Creek mine is such a good fit.”

“The program itself gives you a great insight into the process of mining before experiencing it straight away. Getting the certificate is also a big motivator, because that means I’ll be able to complete more training to develop a broader skillset and have the opportunity to operate multiple types of heavy machinery.

“It really just is a great opportunity for everyone out there wanting to try something different, but not quite knowing where to begin.”

In April, the first four trainees were welcomed on site, and four new starters will be inducted every fortnight. Whitehaven and Programmed plan to expand the program to the company’s other open-cut mines in the region, while also looking to create more traineeships across other parts of the business.

“Our workforce development program gives people the opportunity to grow and progress in the company, while also obtaining a formal qualification. We support, coach and mentor our trainees from the outset, providing a quality on-the-job training experience,” added David Hele, Executive General Manager Programmed Skilled Workforce

“Our people are a big part of the thriving North West NSW community, and we’re pleased to work with Programmed to find new ways to help encourage local people into long-term, rewarding careers,” said Daniel Cram, Whitehaven Executive General Manager – People & Culture.

Find out more about these career opportunities and register your interest at or call 13 STAFF (13 78233).

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