13 December 2021

Staff spotlight: Mitch, Longwall Superintendent, Narrabri Mine

We recently spoke to the Mitchell Royall, Longwall Superintendent to find out about his experience working at our Narrabri underground mine. Here’s what he had to say.

When did you join Whitehaven and why? I joined in July 2013. I was looking for a company where I could progress my career. I visited the mine and thought “Wow, this place has a great future” – it was well presented, had modern facilities and a long mine life ahead. I started as a Deputy and eight years later I’m the Longwall Superintendent.

Describe a typical day. My alarm goes off at 3am and I check how the longwall has gone overnight, make my coffee and I try to train each morning – either a run or session in the shed. Then I get to work, review the last 24 hours with the team, daily reviews and then meetings or an underground trip. I try to leave by 16:30 but if you ask my wife that doesn’t happen very often.

What’s your favourite part of the role? The people – seeing your teammates grow in life and at work. We have a lot of people who didn’t know what a longwall was 8–10yrs ago and now are trained, competent longwall operators. And the challenges – planning for them and seeing our work pay off is rewarding. You have to have a passion to succeed and the will to win is important in our roles.

And the most challenging? Succession planning – the continual development of the next group of coal miners. With local agriculture and construction booming, it’s harder to attract people to work underground. We need to keep developing from within and investing in our people and continue the cycle that has worked so well for us to date. You are not born a coal miner, you get trained to be a coal miner.

What’s something people might not know about what you do? The amount of preparation it takes for a Longwall move – you’re planning the next one up to 18 months in advance with machinery, equipment, overhauls and labour often before the current one is completed.

What do you like to do outside of work? I enjoy relaxing, drinking coffee and spending time with my wife and our three boys who keep us active. We love traveling and exploring – the border closures have made it difficult but hope to be back into it soon. I’m a mad ice hockey fan so often you’ll catch me watching a game. And I’m also training for a running event in the Blue Mountains May 2022.

See current job opportunities at Narrabri and our other sites here.

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