Greg Green

Greg Green

Rocky road to success for quarry boss

Greg Green was the sort of kid who couldn’t go anywhere without putting a rock or two in his pockets.

He tells of being the boy with the sandpit that took four semi-loads to fill, it was so big.

And he comes from a family of miners and quarry operators.

“I just love rocks,” says Mr Green, who at 27 is senior site executive for CAMM Quarries, the Mendi Group’s growing quarry business in Townsville.


Mr Green’s family has a history of involvement in the Emuford battery, in the tinfields in the Cairns hinterland, as far back as 1911.

The Emuford battery, 1918.

“That was before my time,” he said. “They had the Eumford Tin battery and then we went gold mining at the Palmer River and then got into quarrying (at Mareeba).”

This background saw him operating machinery as young as seven and he entered a school-based apprenticeship as a boilermaker in Grade 9.

From there he went back into the quarrying industry as a maintenance supervisor/ operator with the CEC Group in Mount Isa before its collapse.

Career opening at Holcim

A short stint followed at the mines, before Mr Green took a position with Holcim in 2010.

He quickly moved up through the ranks from leading hand in the pit operations when he began through to site senior executive during his last three years with Holcim Australia in Townsville.

Mr Green left his position with Holcim Australia in January this year to join CAMM Quarries.

Locally owned Mendi Group recently expanded their CAMM Quarries operations with the acquisition of a third quarry.

Mr Green was particularly attracted by the opportunity to lead the project at the new undeveloped CAMM North site (previously Wild Boar) which Mendi was looking to acquire at the time.

CAMM and Mendi Group Managing Director Jeffrey Doyle had told him it was his approach to safety in the quarrying industry that had made him their choice for the role, Mr Green said.

Great opportunity with Mendi Group

“(The move) has been one of the best things I’ve done,” Mr Green said.

His passion for safety was sparked by an incident involving his father (Carl Green) when Greg was only 14.

Mr Green’s father was struck by two low loader ramps whilst unloading a machine 100km south of Weipa.

The right hand side of his body was squashed, sustaining multiple broken bones in his legs, arms and ribs – leaving him in hospital for four months and in a wheelchair for 18 months.

“The impact this had on my childhood is a memory I’ll never forget and I don’t wish this upon any family,” Mr Green said.

Youth has been among the challenges he has faced in his leadership trajectory.

Mr Green took on his first supervisory role at Holcim’s Bohle quarry when he was just 20.

“That was biggest challenge of my career, getting them to understand that just because I was young didn’t mean I couldn’t do my job,” he said.

“I felt like I was bashing my head against the wall, but because I was so passionate about the job I just kept pushing on.”

He feels his habit of chipping in with other jobs on site helps earn respect as people soon realise he has a good understanding of their work.

Mr Green is based in Townsville with partner Elise and children Mia, Trey and Ivanah.

His ultimate career goal is to own his own quarry.

Mendi Managing Director Jeffrey Doyle with Greg Green.

Jeff Innes

Jeff Innes

Experienced hand takes AusIMM helm

New AusIMM North Queensland branch chair Jeff Innes brings a breadth of industry experience to the post.

The 61-year-old Townsville resident says he has worked in ‘just about every commodity you can imagine’ after starting his mining career at Broken Hill in the 1980s.

“I’m more an operational leader than technical guy. I was usually in frontline operations such as manager, GM, chief operating officer roles, essentially leadership,” Mr Innes said.



His Queensland roles have included a stint as general manager at Carpentaria Gold in Ravenswood in the late 1990s before he moved to Mackay to work with Joy Global as general manager for the North-East region.

He also held a senior management role with MMG from August 2004 to 2008.

Among his most recent roles was a two-year stint on BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam project and a four-year stint as general manager – mining with Ok Tedi Mining, living with his wife Debbie in Papua New Guinea.

Although enjoying early retirement, Mr Innes maintains his links with the industry and is keen to take on non-executive director roles.

“I do like to keep involved in the industry,” he said. “I mentor a couple of people and there are still a lot of connections around the place and opportunities to work. But I just don’t want to work full-time anymore – I am enjoying retirement and the grandkids.”

Mr Innes is in his 42nd year as an AusIMM Member, and is now a Fellow of the Institute.

“I think it’s important to keep up with what’s happening in the industry,” he said.

“There’s a lot of technological and leadership opportunities that you can read about in our bulletins, and I applaud the gender diversity we are seeing in our industry.

“And if you want to be qualified to sign off on Resource and Reserve statements it is very important to be a member of the AusIMM to be considered a ‘competent person’.”

Mr Innes said the North Queensland branch would continue to offer monthly technical talks, with this month’s forum (March 2019) set to feature a presentation on the Thalanga project.

Highlights on the 2019 calendar will include the Sir George Fisher Lecture, which is in its 40th year this year, and social gatherings.

Mr Innes said the group’s sponsors had been extremely generous to date and he hoped that would continue into 2019.

Mitch Hughes

Mitch Hughes

Double duty for the CFMEU

Fixing things is a motivating force for union leader Mitch Hughes.

Mr Hughes was elected senior vice-president of the CFMEU Queensland district mining and energy division in 2012 at age 28 and, in addition to those duties, has been acting in the role of state secretary for the past year.

His union position means the qualified diesel fitter no longer gets to work with his hands as much as he would like.

But he says he enjoys the chance to apply strategy and fix members’ problems when they come to the CFMEU for help.


Mr Hughes grew up in Dysart in central Queensland, where his father worked at the Norwich Park and Peak Downs coal mines.

But he was not specifically drawn to mining himself – beginning a mechanical apprenticeship with a business in Dysart when he first left school.

“I just wanted to do something with my hands,” Mr Hughes said.

“I was probably about three-quarters of the way through my first year when myself and a couple of guys rocked up to work one morning to find the place locked up and the boss had shot through.

“In terms of timing, the mines had just started to call for apprentices and I was lucky enough to be accepted as a diesel fitter apprentice at Saraji mine.”

He finished his apprenticeship in early 2007 and worked for a local contractor in Dysart for a year before winning a permanent position back at Saraji.

Mr Hughes worked there for BHP until he was elected into the CFMEU senior vice-president role in 2012.

Multiple factors had contributed to his interest in the work of the union, he said.

“There was a significant dispute when I was in primary school. Dad and the other miners were all on strike for weeks. That was probably my first exposure to it,” he said.

“Then, when the mechanic I was working for in Dysart shot through owing me some super, I started to dig around about what I could do.

“When I got to Saraji, we were probably a couple of years from our next dispute where it turns out I went on strike.

“It was probably a combination of all those things that led me down the path I’m on now.”


A key part of his role now involved improving conditions for labour hire members, Mr Hughes said.

“Whenever our guys and girls come across an issue I like to be involved in the strategy and find the most efficient way for us to win the argument and make sure they get their entitlements and their rights are protected at work,” he said.

Job security was among the biggest issues facing the mining industry workforce at the moment, along with the health risks associated with dust exposure, he said.

He is keen to remain in a union leadership role to help resolve some of the challenges.

“I want to stay involved. I’m not going to be happy until I see some things through,” Mr Hughes said.

“Job security and labour hire – that’s a project of mine, to make sure we get it right and people get some decent conditions.”

And the best part of the job?

“It’s the people to be honest,” Mr Hughes said.

“I know that sounds a bit cliché, but we have some great members out there.

“We do meet some great people and I think probably the best thing is if someone comes to you with an issue and you have a win for them.

“We’ve had some good wins in the last couple of months for our guys and girls.”


Based in Brisbane, his interests outside work have a major slant towards sport.

“I grew up playing AFL in Dysart, Mr Hughes said. “I was a black sheep of the family – my brother played rugby league, my dad followed rugby league, so   playing AFL in the middle of central Queensland was unusual.

“But we had four teams, I think – Moranbah, Dysart Blackwater and Emerald.”

Mr Hughes said his other sporting love was soccer.

“I still play soccer, but I’m starting to get to that age where my body hurts too much the next day if I play AFL,” he said.

“Aside from sports- it’s cars. Old Mustangs and stuff like that.

“I’m looking for one to buy at the moment, you know, diesel fitter by trade and  worked with my hands for that long – having a bit more of a desk job, my hands get a bit twitchy now and then, so I’m looking for things to fix.”

Hari Boppudi

Hari Boppudi

Multitasking in the North West

As a boy growing up in India, Hari Boppudi had his sights on becoming either a doctor or a civil engineer.

Circumstances propelled him towards the latter and he is now responsible for multimillion-dollar roadworks and a range of other projects that keep the Flinders Shire in North-West Queensland running smoothly.


Mr Boppudi started work with the Flinders Shire Council in 2010 as a project engineer and has been the shire’s director of engineering since 2016.

He said he was attracted by the diversity of the role and the multitasking skills it demanded.

“When accepting the position with the FSC, I had a choice to go to Melbourne or to come to Hughenden,” he said.

“I have chosen Hughenden as I felt this role was challenging compared to the other one.”

Mr Boppudi is from Andhra Pradesh in southern India and says his native place is Guntur.

“My dad is a bank manager, and my mom is a housewife, and my parents always encouraged and supported me to pursue higher studies,” he said.

“My grandfather was a municipal inspector, and my uncle is an architect and runs a construction company.”

With good academic results, he says his two favoured options were to become a doctor or a civil engineer.

“My financial prospects didn’t encourage me to become a doctor, but the environment around supported and encouraged me to become a civil engineer,” he said.

After finishing his Bachelors of Civil Engineering at Acharya Nagarjuna University in 2006, he decided to come to Australia for further studies and completed a Masters in Structural Engineering at the University of Southern Queensland in 2008.

Mr Boppudi said he had worked for various companies while studying to cover his day-to-day expenses and help improve his communication skills.

“In 2009, I started my engineering career with Ipswich Water as a graduate trainee. Later on, I was promoted to a project officer for pressure and water leakage management,” he said.

He worked there until securing his FSC role in June 2010.

As director of engineering his duties include operational and capital works delivery on buildings, roads, water supply, wastewater, parks and gardens, and he is also responsible for council fleet management.

“Most importantly my department is responsible for the delivery of the contract works,” he said.

“During my time, annually council has delivered anywhere between $5 million and $25 million-valued projects for TMR as a contractor.”

This has included the council team completing a total of 70km of sealing of the Hann Highway.

He also works with chief executive officer Graham King on the council’s economic development projects including the 15 Mile irrigation project and advancing plans for a meat processing plant at Hughenden.

Achieving success with these would change the town’s prospects ‘big time’ and attract up to 300 new employees, he said.

Living and working in a relatively small and remote community like Hughenden brings its challenges.

These include having to be prepared to drive 10 hours or more to see a specialist and living without the convenience of services such as takeaway food deliveries or a local cinema.

On a professional front it means having to cover a large area with only a small rates base and inadequate outside funding, while still trying to meet local residents’ expectations regarding council services.

Mr Boppudi said more planning was required to complete any specific works on time in a remote location and skills availability was often an issue.

“(There are) many challenges, but the extent depends on how the individuals deal with them. I mean the perception and the outcomes mainly depend on how we adapt, how we plan and how we implement,” he said.

On the plus side he said he enjoyed a challenging role, job satisfaction, a good working environment and being part of a friendly community.

“Most importantly my wife and kids like this place,” he said.








Alex Brown

Alex Brown

Leader with an eye on innovation

Alex Brown’s job title may be senior geologist, but his role has evolved into one of technical innovator for his team.

From using a drone to capture high resolution images of the local terrain to tinkering with geographic information system (GIS) software, he is keen to explore new options.

“I try and push the boundaries of the things we do and the way we look at the data we collect,” Mr Brown said.

The Mount Isa resident is senior geologist for regional exploration with Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines.



He started out with MIM as a graduate in 2009 after completing his honours degree at James Cook University with what was then Xstrata Copper.

“I progressed to project exploration geologist and the like, working on various projects for MIM – mostly in the Cloncurry district, but also in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory,” he said.

That role meant a fly-in, fly-out lifestyle out of Townsville for seven years. But Mr Brown and his partner, an engineer, are now both living in Mount Isa.

His adoption of technology in his work as a geologist was highlighted in a paper that earned him the Best Presenter Award at AusIMM’s annual regional mining conference in Cloncurry last year, offering a practical perspective on the use of drones in exploration.

“Over the last 12 months or so I have been developing capability in our department for using drones for various tasks,” Mr Brown said.

Mr Brown said his use of drones was inspired others’ presentations at conferences in 2015 and 2016.

“That got me interested enough to buy a machine myself to play around with and see what they were like to fly and what sort of photographs I could get,” he said.

“After playing around with that for a while and seeing what they could do in my own time, I put a case forward to our group here. They thought it was worth giving a crack and we have gone from there.”

The exploration team has found drone technology useful for mapping and high-resolution 3D terrain modelling.

“We generally have access to data down to a 30m grid size, whereas with the drone we can get that down to less than half a metre,” Mr Brown said.

An example of where it has been especially useful is in providing realistic modelling of cliffs and pit wall faces which would previously have been inaccessible.

Mr Brown is also focused on making the most of XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) spectrometer capabilities on the job.

“A lot of the work I’ve been doing is more about understanding exactly how robust the data is that we can get out of them and what are the key factors that affect that,” he said.

Drill site procedures were being modified to incorporate on-site XRF use – resulting in significant savings in assay costs.

“It allows the geologist to make informed decisions on the current drill hole in real time,” Mr Brown said. “Do we need to continue further than originally planned because we’re getting promising results at the bottom of the hole? Or to give them the confidence to say that ‘no’ we can stop and move on to the next one.”

Indicative results from the XRF allowed the exploration teams to sample drill holes more thoroughly in promising zones as they were sending less samples away overall on average, he said.

Another area of interest is GIS or 3D software packages, and helping others in the team to use them to learn more about their data.

“One thing I’ve been using and encouraging other people to use is a new GIS package called QGIS, which is an open-source GIS platform – so it has a great deal of flexibility, and I’ve done some programming to create extensions that solve specific problems we have,” Mr Brown said.

Developing expertise in such areas is an extension to Mr Brown’s original geology qualifications, which he says is aided by underlying interest in technology and a workplace that gives him scope to investigate and apply its potential.

Daniel Ashton

Daniel Ashton

Project geologist goes with the flow

Ernest Henry Mining’s project geologist Daniel Ashton has not only found a profession that he loves, but has been able to develop an unexpected area of expertise through his work.

Mr Ashton came to Ernest Henry Mining near Cloncurry as a graduate geologist and hit the ground running by assisting with a groundwater project as the mine transitioned from open-cut to underground mining.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to be exposed to work that the ‘normal mine geologist’ doesn’t get to see,” Mr Ashton said.


“A typical mine geologist would have various near-mine exploration tasks and resource development work. However early in my graduate program I was working on a project which focused on understanding and controlling the water underground and trying to help us predict its movements,ensuring we were prepared for it and could alter the design of the mine accordingly.

“This meant I had a lot of exposure in this particular area and as I worked alongside hydrogeologists I learnt a great deal. They passed on a lot of their knowledge and expertise to me, which was a really rewarding experience.

“Now a large part of my project work is around understanding the underground water aquifers.

“I have been offered many opportunities at Ernest Henry Mining and I am constantly learning new things on the job. This is one of the main reasons I have stayed here.

“Recently I have started a masters at Flinders University in groundwater hydrology, trying to formalise some of the on-the-job experience I have.”

Mr Ashton has also presented papers on the subject for AusIMM in north-west Queensland and at the International Mining Geology Conference in Hobart last year.

This contributed to his winning a scholarship as the local AusIMM group’s Young Professional of the year for 2018.

“I am very grateful for the scholarship,” he said.

He hopes to use the prize to attend the AusIMM Complex Orebodies Conference 2018 in Brisbane this November.

Mr Ashton grew up in Brunswick Heads near Byron Bay, NSW, and moved to Brisbane to attend the University of Queensland.

He said he had always had a fascination with the natural environment.

“When I was exposed to science in school I was hanging onto every word,” he said.

“Then one day I was leafing through a careers booklet, as you do, late in high school and came across a career path that really resonated with me. I wanted to become a geologist as you get to go outside, see the natural world, and try to understand it. So I threw myself into it at university and haven’t looked back since.”

Mr Ashton said he loved being able to understand some of the ancient history of an area by observing the geological features.

“It’s a bit nerdy – my mates hate going on hikes with me because I just won’t shut up about it,” he laughs. “Occasionally one finds it interesting…”

Mr Ashton undertook vacation work with Ernest Henry Mining and George Fisher Mine before graduating from UQ in 2012 and being offered a graduate position in north-west Queensland.



Joyce McCulloch

Joyce McCulloch

Mayor with mining on her mind

She grew up on remote cattle properties and cut her teeth in retail and event management before turning her sights on local government.

It is not the obvious grounding for someone taking the lead as an advocate for mining communities nationwide.

But when that someone is Joyce McCulloch, mayor of one of Australia’s great mining cities, the picture fits.


Cr McCulloch founded the Australia Mining Cities Alliance late last year along with the mayors of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Broken Hill.

The move was announced at the annual Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia – SEGRA – conference in Port Augusta.

“We are communities that were born from mining,” Cr McCulloch said.

“We had our first meeting last year and felt if we came together as one we could probably lobby a lot more effectively to governments and to industry and perhaps manipulate – and I say that positively – towards policies and initiatives for mining.”

Cr McCulloch has also been appointed to the Federal Government’s Resources 2030 Taskforce alongside such figures as BHP’s Mike Henry and Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) president Will Robinson.

The group has been asked to investigate reforms to secure the competitiveness of Australia’s resources sector and help ensure its longevity.

Cr McCulloch agrees these roles have placed her in a strong position as an advocate in the resources sector – and she has a very clear sense of direction.

“I can be very, very bold in my recommendations, but it is a question of whether the governments have the appetite to move forward with it and how much control they have,” she said.

To further bolster economic development and jobs creation in northern Australia, Cr McCulloch has formed the Tennant Creek to Mount Isa Cross Border Commission.

“We’re already seeing significant and substantial developments along the corridor between Mount Isa and Tennant Creek, including the advent of the Northern Gas Pipeline and further work on the proposed Mount Isa to Tennant Creek Rail Link,” Cr McCulloch said.

“By strengthening communication and coordination between our respective councils and actively involving other levels of government, I am confident the region’s economy will grow and diversify more quickly.”

Cr McCulloch came to north-west Queensland in the 1980s, when her family moved to Cloncurry from the Northern Territory.

Her father was a cattleman, who managed cattle properties and did quite a lot of droving, she said.

“I lived on remote cattle properties as a child and did school of the air,” Cr McCulloch said.

“For the first probably 10 years of my life the only friends I had were my brother and sister and the indigenous kids on the stations.”

She worked in retail before taking the helm at Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo in 1994, working as general manager there until 2009.

The mother of two was elected to Mount Isa City Council in 2012 and won the position of Mayor in the 2016 local government elections.

She says her priorities in local government have included positive organisational change and community.

“I just like to put a lot more emphasis back on to community and making it more of a liveable city and also ensuring that Mount Isa positions itself as the business hub of our region,” she said.

“I’m pretty strong on governance. I like really good governance around anything that we move forward and do.”

Cr McCulloch believes mining communities tend to be ‘the forgotten cousins’ despite their great contribution to the Australian economy

She said she was keen to have a role in driving policies that paid greater regard to those communities that bore the brunt of the ups and downs of the mining cycle.

The economic downturn and population drain that cities like Mount Isa suffered when commodities foundered did not make for sustainable communities, she said.

For local government, it means trying to maintain a high level of service against the backdrop of a falling rates base – on top of the fact there is a relatively high proportion of non-resident workers in the area who require service but do not contribute to that rates base.

“The Australian Mining Cities Alliance is for communities that are on the ground, that are affected by the industry, so I think that we need  a lot greater opportunity to influence  how our economies move forward,” she said.

“I just don’t think our communities have had a loud enough voice in the past and I think we need a loud voice moving forward.”

Cr McCulloch said also that Resources 2030 Taskforce members had been asked to ‘think bold’ and she had some very clear ideas about how the mining industry in Australia could remain sustainable the global stage.

“Australia is a great resource spot – but how do we compare to other markets around the world in operating mining?’ she said.

“Just from my observations I think that Australia is a very expensive place to do business.  I think that we are outpricing ourselves with a lot of the inputs the industry has to absorb like the high cost of energy and the high cost of workers.”

Bruce Gardiner

Bruce Gardiner

Public works role a balancing act

As the man in charge of maintaining infrastructure for the Cairns Regional Council, Bruce Gardiner admits it can be quite a daunting task.

The infrastructure services general manager looks after about 450 employees responsible for everything from parks, gardens and footpaths to traffic lights, roads and drains.

Not surprisingly, every day can present a number of challenges to Bruce and his staff.


“Daily challenges include keeping up with residents’ and visitors’ increasing expectations on the level of service the council should provide,” he said.

“There is never enough money and resources to do everything, so we are continually prioritising and allocating resources to the assets deemed higher priority or critical to the functioning of the city.”

Adding to the complexity is Cairns’ location in the wet tropics area of northern Australia.

“Not surprisingly, being in the wet tropics, the activities that generally consume the most energy and resources are drainage issues, particularly in the wet season, and tree and vegetation management,” Bruce said.

“We get 5000 to 6000 customer requests a year regarding tree management because things grow so fast in far north Queensland.

“We also have challenges maintaining the road network, particularly during the wet season when roads can deteriorate overnight when we get torrential tropical downpours.”

With a science degree, MBA and graduate diplomas in water engineering and management, plus an outstanding employment record Australia-wide, Bruce has a great deal of ability and experience to pass on, something he enjoys doing in his role as president of the North Queensland branch of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia.

“We have four branches across Queensland and a head office in Brisbane,” Bruce said.

“The purpose of the IPWEA (Queensland) is to enhance the quality of life for all Queensland communities by advancing the skills, knowledge and resources available to those involved in the planning and provision of public works and services.

“As president of the NQ branch, together with my branch committee members, we attempt to inform and connect our members, who predominantly work in local government or consult to councils.

“We also advocate on behalf of members on public works policy matters.”

Bruce admits, though, that one of the hardest things about the role at times is keeping in touch with fellow committee members.

“One of the main challenges facing the NQ branch is the tyranny of distance,” he said.

“Our branch region stretches from Mackay north to Cape York and across to the Northern Territory border.

“Even getting the branch committee together for a meeting is difficult and that’s why holding the annual branch conference is so important as we often only have the time available to meet and share knowledge and experiences once a year.”

With so much on his plate, Bruce likes to use whatever free time he has to explore the natural attractions which make far north Queensland so famous.

“Although mobile phones mean you are on call 24 hours a day, I do find time to explore our wonderful tropical rainforests on weekends,” he said.

“I occasionally get out to the Great Barrier Reef and admire the amazing marine life out there.

“And, dare I say it, like many men my age, a few years ago I joined the MAMIL (middle-aged men in lycra) brigade and I try and cycle a few times a week, either on the road or on the many mountain bike trails around Cairns.”



John Alexandrou

John Alexandrou

Chemistry was right for ALS stalwart

John Alexandrou spent 20 years of his working life in the automotive repair business and was a joint owner of a smash repair business he started with a mate in Currajong, Townsville.

He may still have been there if not for a debilitating illness which forced him to look for a less physical way to earn a crust.

“When I was ill I went through the CRS (Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service) and I actually did a profiling test to see what career path would suit me,” he said.

“It came up with something in chemistry – which was really, up to that point, something I had never thought about.”

The test proved spot on.

The Townsville resident is retiring this month (April 2018) after 25 years with Australian Laboratory Services.

As operations manager for ALS Australasia east, he manages laboratories in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania and oversaw the establishment of branches in Fiji and New Caledonia.

The company’s work includes analysing core and soil samples for mineral exploration projects as well as grade control and mill work for mineral processing.



Starting work with ALS was a light bulb moment, he says.

“When I first started, I just thought ‘this is me’. It suits me and I like the work and the analytical side of it,” Mr Alexandrou said.

“I progressed through the company fairly quickly, I guess because of that.

“Within a year I had gone from lab assistant to laboratory manager and really haven’t looked back since. Probably getting sick was one of the best things that ever happened to me, or I would never have gone in that direction.

“It’s just one of those things – it changed my life.”

To get there he studied part time through the University of Central Queensland and gained some work with CSIRO and GBRMPA before landing at ALS.

The painful rheumatoid arthritis that acted as a catalyst for the move is now under control.


Mr Alexandrou started at the Townsville laboratory but moved in 1993 to Charters Towers – a hive of mining activity, with sites including Mount Leyshon, Pajingo, Thalanga, Highway Reward, Rishton and Hadleigh Castle in operation.

“There was a fair bit going on in those days,” he said.

“I stayed there until about 2001 and at that time several of the mines had either closed or were in the process of winding up operations– Pajingo and Hiway Reward were pretty well the only two running, so ALS moved me back to Townsville to look after Townsville Laboratory.

“That was the bottom of one of our industry cycles. Exploration dropped right off so we actually closed the Charters Towers and Cloncurry Offices.

“I guess after about 18 months things started coming back and we opened a new laboratory in Mount Isa.”


One of the hardest things to deal with in his profession had been the boom and bust nature of the mining and exploration industry, he said.

“I have probably closed more laboratories than I have opened over the years. In the last 25 years I’ve probably seen four or five of those cycles.

“It’s not easy to deal with but to survive you cut right back and try to control expenditure and keep the business going until the cycle turns around.”

Letting people go was the toughest part.

But he believed much of the innovation in his industry had emerged from the lean times.

“A lot of the automation and a lot of the equipment and techniques have definitely been redeveloped through necessity,” Mr Alexandrou said.



Over the course of his career the technology has evolved from labs reporting small suites of elements in parts per million to reporting in some cases parts per trillion.

“Fairly recently we had a client who went back to a lot of old drilling samples and had them re-analysed using the new techniques, which cover a lot more elements and have much lower detection limits,” Mr Alexandrou said.

“They did quite a large study with the historical samples to try and identify drill targets, which they have.”

Modern techniques including Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrophotometer (ICPOES), inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS), X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and hyperspectral imaging allowed laboratories to produce much more usable data within a similar timeframe to the older methods, Mr Alexandrou said.

“There is a lot more quality control now as well.  A lot more testing and checking and certified reference material used, many more field duplicates etc.,, which didn’t necessarily happen as much 20 years ago,” he said.

“But nowadays if you want to have something that’s JORC compliant it’s just an integral part of the process, just something that has to be done.”


Mr Alexandrou’s experience has seen him develop a clear vision for sustaining contract services in a volatile market.

“I think it’s all about building and maintaining relationships, having confidence in your clients and your clients having confidence in you and the product you’re providing them,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of major projects over the years and it’s all about communication and providing quality service and having regular meetings and feedback sessions.”

“The very nature of the industry means the people you’re dealing with, either now or in the past, would inevitably turn up on another project down the track, having and maintaining a good relationship with these guys certainly helps” he said.

“It’s actually fairly common that you’ll  come across people again on several different projects over the years, both here in Australia or different countries even and all of these relationships pick up where you left off,” he said.


Mr Alexandrou stressed the value of AusIMM as a means of keeping in touch with people in the industry.

“You really have to foster relationships,” he said. “You catch up with a lot of people at conferences etc. AusIMM have great events as does the AIG (Australian Institute of Geoscientists),” he said.

“We like to attend and sponsor those quite avidly when we can, It pays you back, it’s an investment”

“We like to meet the younger people AusIMM and AIG bring into the fold, we encourage them to bring those people around to our labs so we can show them around to help give them an understanding of what we do.”


Mr Alexandrou is on long service leave, transitioning into retirement in April. He plans a break to spend time with family.

“I will come back at some stage and do consulting once I’ve had a decent break,” he said.

“I want to stay in touch with things so I’ll be putting myself out there, maybe at the end of the year something like that.”

Although he regularly attends AusIMM events he has never joined the group as a member.

“But I might join now,” he laughs.

Jo-Anne Dudley

Jo-Anne Dudley

Leading the way for women in mining

The first big shock for aspiring engineer Jo-Anne Dudley was that she was one of only five women studying for a mining engineering degree in her year at university. She also discovered that no women had been enrolled in the degree for five years and only five had graduated in the 40 year history of the degree.

There were more shocks to come.


There was a vacation stint at a FIFO mine where colleagues had never worked with a woman before and the physical strain underground was almost a knock-out blow.

Life in a central Queensland coalfields camp, where she and an 18-year-old metallurgist were the first women to live on site, was another example.

Then there was the challenge of being site manager in charge of 40 people at a remote Northern Territory workplace where the only other female workers were in catering.

Today Ms Dudley is manager strategic mine and resources planning for Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia.

She is one of only eight female ‘competent persons’ for Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) reporting in Rio Tinto and a Fellow of the AusIMM.

She has devoted much effort to inspiring and assisting other women in the mining and engineering industries including as chair of WIMARQ (2008/2009) and as a current member of the University of Queensland Women in Engineering Initiative Advisory Board.

And her advice to anyone considering a mining career?

“Do it! The workplace environment has changed so much since my early years,” she said.

“There’s a strong focus on safety and an acceptance of diversity in the workplace now.

“It’s a great industry with varied roles, opportunities to change career path and to live in a multitude of locations.  Roles are well paid and a shortage of people in many disciplines means that you are generally guaranteed decent treatment at work, which cannot be said for many other careers.”

Ms Dudley grew up in Caboolture north of Brisbane and went to live with her grandmother in Sydney to study at UNSW to pursue her goal of becoming a mining engineer.

She graduated from university in 1994 with an honours degree and worked for Farnsway-Faminco at various sites in Queensland and Northern Territory before they were bought by Roche in 1999.

“Faminco was a great experience and a rare organisation that was accepting of women working as underground loader and truck drivers,” she said.

But her first FIFO experience came at a mine in north-west Queensland while she was still a student.

Herself and two other female mining engineers were employed on vacation work at the site, where they were the first women to work underground.

She said they were put on different shifts and had to share bathrooms in camp with the male students also employed.

The physical work as an offsider underground seemed impossibly hard at first, but by the end of the three months Ms Dudley said she could run back to camp after a 12-hour shift.

Ms Dudley describes that period of vacation work as formative in her life.

“…It was survival of the fittest, mentally and physically, and I survived it – however it is also the reason I am involved in women’s mentoring today because it was a lonely and tough time during which I would have benefitted from interaction with an older ‘sister’ in the industry,” she said.

There were further challenges at a coal mine, where Ms Dudley and an 18 year-old female metallurgist were the first women ever to have lived in camp at the site.

“An example was the night a group of intoxicated young men were banging on the door of the donger I shared with a female co-worker and making some very real threats,” she said.

“There were no phones to call anyone for help.  To the credit of the site, the offenders were disciplined and the experience was a catalyst for positive change at the camp.”

Less than a year after graduation Ms Dudley was promoted to site manager in charge of 40 men at a Northern Territory mine.

“I was only nine months out of university leading 40 men and a fleet of equipment and managing client relationships,” she said.

“It was a bit overwhelming really. I did learn an amazing amount about people and myself. I don’t for one moment regret spending time in that role.”

When asked if she had ever felt she’d made the wrong career choice given those experiences, Ms Dudley points to an entirely different type of shock at Northparkes Mines – which she praises for its HR practices and management structure.

“After November 1999, I did briefly consider leaving the industry after the airblast at Northparkes Mines (New South wales),” she said.

“My manager, the technical services superintendent, the mine manager, and two other underground workers were killed and 70-80 people more had narrow escapes.

“The men I worked with both had very young families and it was a terrible time.  At the time I was in the early stages of my own first pregnancy and I was deeply affected by the accident and subsequent inquest”

Ms Dudley spent almost 10 years at Northparkes, during which time she and electrician-husband Darren owner-built a house and had two daughters, Darcy and Caitlin.

Her next move was to Brisbane in a technical services consulting role which saw her involved in projects in underground mines in Australia, Africa, USA and Mongolia.

In 2010 Ms Dudley moved to Vancouver to work on the Oyu Tolgoi feasibility study.

As the underground project went into execution phase in 2016, she moved into a role managing strategic planning for both open pit and underground mines at the sites.

In the last six months she has gained responsibility for resource geology and exploration for the site.

“I have been based in Brisbane since 2014, with travel every six-eight weeks to the site in Mongolia, which enables better work-life balance with access to education and facilities for our family, including our now- teenaged daughters,” she said.

Remote sites have changed significantly since her early days.

“These days at FIFO sites the connection to the ‘outside world’ is so much better,” she said.

“Now when I’m working for Oyu Tolgoi in the Gobi Desert I can video call my family and chat for hours at no cost to me.

“It’s not a monoculture anymore and every site I visit now has some professional women. At Oyu Tolgoi there are many women who are highly educated and wonderful to spend time with.”





Scott Waters

Scott Waters

Sky-high goals for Rockhampton growth

For Scott Waters, one simple word has guided him throughout an impressive career in the tourism and local government sectors.

“I think the key word for me is ‘passion’ and that’s what has informed my career to date,” Mr Waters said.

“I think if you are passionate about what you do it makes things so much easier.”

With Rockhampton and Central Queensland on the crest of a tourism and economic wave, the 38-year-old Rockhampton Regional Council general manager of regional development and aviation has a great deal to feel passionate about.

He admits it’s a fantastic time to be in charge of Rockhampton Airport as he begins the process of upgrading it to become a hub for international flights and a greater economic driver for the Central Queensland region.

And, with extensive experience in tourism, aviation and local government, Mr Waters is ideally placed to lead the airport, and region’s, growth.



Born in Mackay in 1979, Mr Waters completed his secondary schooling at St Patrick’s College before heading to James Cook University where he graduated with a business degree majoring in tourism management and human resources.

From there he moved to Cairns where he worked for Qantas, before heading to Canberra as part of the national carrier’s special services unit.

A desire to see more of the world saw Mr Waters work in Ireland, Great Britain and France before he returned to Australia as the area sales manager for Qantas in Townsville.

After nearly 18 months with Qantas, Mr Waters became head of commercial operations for the North Queensland Fury, the Townsville-based A-League soccer club.

In September 2010, he was on the move again, this time to Townsville Enterprise as the general manager of destination marketing, development and the convention bureau.

In mid-2011, the State Government approached him to take on the role of general manager of the Whitsunday Coast Airport and, in late 2012, he was appointed Whitsunday Regional Council chief executive officer.

It was, Mr Waters said, something of a dream job.

“I jumped at the opportunity to run the airport and then had about three and a half years running the council,” he said.

“That was a fantastic experience and I was able to continue the work with the Whitsunday airport as sort of a pet project.”

Mr Waters made the move to Rockhampton in 2016 and says his role as airport general manager with a focus on regional development combines his great passions.

“I’m really focused on aviation and travel and how local government can play a part in regional development,” Mr Waters said.

“What I love about working in local government is that you are part of something far bigger than yourself.

“There is a real sense that you are performing a valuable role that will benefit the community and region.”

While he admits that a hectic working life leaves little time for relaxation, not surprisingly given the nature of his job, Mr Waters admits to a love of travel.

He recently returned from a trip to Cambodia, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and he loves nothing better than seeing more of the world.

“In a way I’m very lucky that so much of my job involves a fair bit of travel anyway because it is something I love doing,” he said.

“I also work hard at staying healthy and family and friends are a big part of my life.”


Simon Hickey

Simon Hickey

Hard-wired for electrical work

As a young electrical technician in the late 1990s, Simon Hickey was part of the team that connected the Ernest Henry, Century and Mt Gordon mines up to the grid in north-west Queensland.

Today he is dealing with a new wave of development as he turns his skills to standard design requirements substations to handle the large-scale solar plants that will soon be feeding into the network throughout the north.

Mr Hickey is a senior substation standards engineer with Ergon Energy and the 2017 Chair of the Engineers Australia Townsville Regional Group.


Despite sticking with the government-owned utility since beginning an apprenticeship with what was then NORQEB in 1990, his career has included a variety of challenges thanks in a large part to Mr Hickey’s embrace of professional development opportunities.

He is a keen advocate of the sector as a rewarding choice of profession.

“In the electrical industry there are so many different opportunities, it’s a diverse discipline,” he said.

“I’m in a utility and I love what I do, but I’ve got friends and relatives who have worked with me and gone on to work in mining or manufacturing, and work in other roles too – diversifying into things like operational controls and project management.

“The electrical industry is a great place to be at the moment, especially with all the innovations that are coming through with large-scale solar power.”

Mr Hickey’s career choice was influenced by his love of physics at school and elder brother Paul’s work in the electrical instrumentation field with Mount Isa Mines.

Born in Mount Isa, Mr Hickey moved to Townsville with his family at 10 and began an apprenticeship as an electrical fitter/mechanic when he left school.

“I decided I wanted to get into the more technical side of electrical work so I completed a four–year associate diploma part time,” he said.

“Then I got a job in a testing and commissioning group working for NORQEB.

“We had some interesting jobs back in those days.

“That was when they kicked off Ernest Henry mine (near Cloncurry), so we built and commissioned the line and the substations at Mica Creek  (Mount Isa) and Ernest Henry and then later on we did Gunpowder (Mount Gordon) and Century.

“We were building a 220kV network which was the first network of its size in our region. They were fun and interesting times.

“… Some of the guys I used to work with who are still out there in the field have just completed a connection to Dugald River (zinc mine).

“So it is now fed out of Chumvale – one of those substations I was involved with in the early days.”

Mr Hickey said he had left that role after seven years to take an office job in substation design.

“I had a young family and had bought one too many birthday presents at the airport coming back from Mount Isa,” he said. “I said to my wife ‘it’s time for a change’.”

Mr Hickey completed a Bachelor of Engineering Technology (electrical and electronic) degree through the University of Southern Queensland. This was followed by a Master of Engineering Practice (power systems engineering) degree that included recognition for prior learning as he took on more senior roles with Ergon.

As senior substation standards engineer, his role now includes addressing some of the challenges involved in introducing more renewable energy sources to the electricity system.

“We now have situations where renewable generators want to connect at the end of long lines that were never designed for power to flow back to the coast.” Mr Hickey said.

He is looking into substation options including dead tank switchgear which have smaller footprints and may be quicker and cheaper to install. Also plant lifecycles must align with contract requirements

Meanwhile the Hickey electrical attraction continues through the next generation – with daughter Samantha having completed an electrical engineering degree.

“She just got a job in Townsville as a medical engineer, doing things like testing and reviewing details of medical equipment making sure it fits the purpose and available when needed,” Mr Hickey said.

“The medical industry is growing markedly and is highly technical. Once again this shows how diverse the opportunities are within the electrical engineering profession.”



Clive Gray

Clive Gray

Instinct for innovation

A knockback from a boss not keen to implement new ideas helped spark diesel fitter Clive Gray’s leap into running his own business more than a decade ago.

Mr Gray is now general manager-director of Brisbane-based Australian Diversified Engineering, which designs and fabricates add-on products for mining and construction fleet.


He agrees that a penchant for innovation was part of the ‘need for a change’ that saw him leave a job running night shift with the large machine equipment assembly division at Hastings Deering in Brisbane in 2004.

“I went to my boss and said ‘look I’ve got all these ideas’ and I had a list and went through stuff and all I wanted was another $10,000 a year,” Mr Gray said.

“His response was ‘don’t let the door hit you on the bottom on the way out’. So I walked out and he said ‘what are you doing?’ – I said ‘I quit’.”

Mr Gray grew up in Dalby and completed an apprenticeship with the local shire council in 1987 before starting work with Hastings Deering.

He worked with them in Dalby and Toowoomba before taking the Brisbane post in 1994.

With three children under 13 and a mortgage when he quit, the move from Hastings Deering was a big decision – and one he concedes has been followed by highs and lows.

Mr Gray started his own machine build and specification company in 2004, targeting the mining industry.

This involved work on numerous projects with Australian Diversified Engineering (ADE) and in late 2006 Mr Gray and business partner Danny Irvine opted to purchase ADE from founding director Andy Igo.

The business had a peak workforce of 80 during ‘the good years’ between 2008 and 2012.

“Then at the end of September 2012 I sacked 40 people in one day – because of the general mining downturn. That will be a day I will never ever forget,” Mr Gray said.

“People see people with their own businesses, their own companies and they see the good bits of it but they don’t see the constant worries of it.”

Like many, Mr Gray has noticed a business upturn in 2017, but has no plans to alter ADE’s pared down business model which focuses on its niche expertise.

“We build our products for the mining industry as kits here and what we normally do is organise for local suppliers to fit it,” he said.

The company, which employs about 30 people, had also produced Hitachi and Hastings Deering equipment before the downturn.

Its core products are add-ons that the Australian mining fraternity want for heavy equipment – such as ground-to-bumper bar access systems to help people get on and off large machines.

ADE’s latest focus is a water cart control system to regulate the amount of the water going on to haul roads, a device complemented by a friction matrix.

Together they allow mine sites to achieve a precise balance between effective dust suppression and retaining enough traction on the sprayed surface for safe vehicle operations.

More efficient water spraying was a big cost cutter for mines – potentially saving billions of litres of water, as well as extra trips for refilling, Mr Gray said.

“This is the stuff that pushes my buttons – I have always enjoyed problem solving,” he said

Mr Gray said the ADE SPRAY system was in use at BHP’s Mount Arthur coal mine in New South Wales, the BMA Goonyella site and Clermont coal.

Downer was using it and Thiess was introducing it as well, he said.

“The word innovation is used often, however, to innovate means that there is going to be a change,” Mr Gray said.

“Over the last 30 years, there have been no fundamental changes in the way water is being used to manage fugitive dust in the mining and construction industries, however, we believe our ADE SPRAY system is a true innovation. Dust suppression practices have always been the same ineffective and inefficient methods, until we stepped forward to make a change.

“What differentiates ADE from our competition is our ability to design on the run, our quality, our reliability and most importantly our people.”



Harriet Schuyler

Harriet Schuyler

Engineer shares her passion for mining

Passion is a word that crops up regularly when Harriet Schuyler starts talking about mining and mentoring.

The 25-year-old engineer’s commitment to her profession and engaging with others have seen her named as a finalist in the ‘Exceptional Young Woman in Mining’ category of this year’s Resources Awards for Women.  


The South32 Cannington silver-lead mine is Ms Schuyler’s latest career posting after stints at Olympic Dam in South Australia and Saraji in central Queensland.

It is a return to her first love of mining – hard rock.

“I’ve always been an outdoorsy type of person, so I knew I was never go to be a Monday-to-Friday desk job kind of person,” Ms Schuyler said.

“I originally did a Bachelor of Science majoring in mineral geoscience at Adelaide University and had my heart set on being in exploration, but when I graduated the industry was going into a downturn and exploration was the first thing to have the budget cut.

“So I went into mining to see how I enjoyed that and absolutely loved it.

“I did my graduate program at Olympic Dam and fell in love with the underground hard rock mining and ended up doing my Masters of Mining Engineering through UNSW to really cement that.

“I did some work in the open-cut coal environment as well at Saraji with BMA –that was my big move to Queensland after three and a half years in remote South Australia.

“I decided that my passion lay with underground hard rock and made the move back into that capacity at Cannington.”

Ms Schuyler lives in Brisbane and works FIFO shifts at the north-west Queensland site, where she is a specialist operations engineer working on analysis and improvement.

“I collate and analyse data from previous shifts and weeks and months and look for trends and opportunities to improve that data,” she said.

“I’m also working in a projects space – looking to improve the systems, improve the way we do things.”

Her attention has recently focused on the performance of the South32 Cannington hoist – evaluating data on downtime, maintenance and hoist rates, for example.

Originally from the Barossa Valley, Ms Schuyler is a keen advocate of STEM subjects in schools.

“I’ve always been really interested in science, technology, engineering and maths and in the past year or so have really gotten into encouraging students to study STEM subjects from a younger age,” she said.

“That’s how we’re going to get quality people in our industry, is to start from that young age and really ingrain that passion and that love for science and technology.

“I did a lot of tutoring when I lived in central Queensland and did a few presentations at high schools there also.”

Ms Schuyler is part of the Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program managed by CSIRO and continues her involvement with the National Youth Science Forum.

She was the site leader and facilitator for the My Mentor – Courageous Woman Program while working at BMA Saraji and continues to mentor and support women in the workplace at Cannington.


“I’m very passionate about what I do – which helps,” she said of her mentoring role.

“I’m also pretty outgoing and I call it like it is – so if I see an issue or if I see someone struggling I’m going to ask them if it’s OK, I’m going to call something out as an issue, I’m going to make myself heard.

“I think it’s important and that’s one of the skills we find females struggle with because it’s not ingrained in us. I’ve had to learn to step up and speak out.

“That’s something I’ve learned and something I’ve noticed has really helped me personally and in my career.”

Ms Schuyler is also a firm believer in the value of the Queensland Resources Council/Women in Mining and Resources Queensland Resources Awards for Women.

“I think it’s great the awards exist because it’s about raising the profile of the industry as a whole – the more it gets out there the more interest it sparks in people, then you can start building the passion.”

Bill Hutton

Bill Hutton

FortisEM forges new engineering model

Good engineering companies don’t so much push limits as set standards. Bill Hutton is an engineer passionate about the profession and its ability to improve built and natural environments.

He has nurtured Townsville-based FortisEM Consultant Engineers and Managers into a management, structural and civil engineering hub.



Mr Hutton’s business model is built around addressing issues with ageing infrastructure and complex design while meeting requirements for greater compliance and more professional expectations.

He received first-class honours in civil engineering and quickly attained recognition as a Registered Professional Engineer Queensland (RPEQ) and Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng).

He is a member of Engineers Australia, Consult Australia and the Concrete Institute of Australia.

FortisEM’s clients include architects, builders, developers, steel fabricators and mining companies who need cost-effective and practical design solutions.

“The firm is helping redesign the traditional engineering offer by combining services that would otherwise exist in silos,” Mr Hutton said.

“It comes from operating in a regional area where extreme climate conditions are the norm and demand creative approaches.

“We need to be innovative to keep growing and find that the inertia often develops between separate providers.

“By keeping laser scanning, design, modeling, rendering, virtual reality and engineering under one roof we produce better documentation in a vastly quicker timeframe. We can also sign off on the plans, which is the cream off the offer.”

Armed with technology and loaded with training, the staff delivers structural engineering solutions including condition assessments and environmental controls through to 3D modeling, drawings and technical specifications.

The same offer is delivered in civil engineering to roads, sewerage and earthworks projects.

FortisEM delivers strategic partnerships as part of its management and turnkey solutions offer. This covers mechanical, electrical and geo-technical engineering as well as building design and quantity surveying.

The design is developed in-house and in unison. The client knows exactly where the buck stops and who is responsible: One provider, one decision-maker, one solution, better engineering. FortisEM engineers.

Brian Armit

Brian Armit

Helping businesses brush up on hygiene

The cleaning of industrial and commercial properties was once an afterthought, but with a growing raft of workplace, health and safety regulations, it is a function no business can ignore

“Gone are the days where you could simply sweep the problem away and flush it down a drain,” Brush and Broom Supplies NQ principal Brian Armit said. “The broom, mop and bucket have been replaced by sophisticated cleaning equipment.”



Mr Armit saw a niche in the market when he established the company in Townsville in 2007.

“Our brushes and brooms and cleaning equipment such as scrubbers and sweepers are now used in food manufacturing, agricultural packing sheds, manufacturing, mineral refineries and road construction,” he said.

He now services councils and a wide range of companies from Sarina in the south, west to the Northern Territory border and north to Cape York.

There is an amazing array of brushes and brooms beyond what the average man or woman in the street would probably imagine.

There are fruit brushes for cleaning and polishing fruit and vegetables, industrial hand brooms, handles, squeegees, asphalt rakers, drag brooms and even sophisticated ride-on machinery.

Mr Armit began his working life as a mechanical fitter with the North Queensland Newspaper Company, working on the printing press.

He rose to the position of group mechanical engineer and since he left NQN has completed a degree in mechanical engineering at the USQ to maintain and service the products he sells.

Brush and Broom Supplies NQ now stocks consumables for all major brands in Australia and has formed a strategic partnership with the country’s leading brush manufacturer, Industrial Brushware, to supply NQ industry and agriculture with a comprehensive range of products.

It has even designed bespoke brush products for specific uses.

Mr Armit says he prides himself on delivering a high level of customer service and keeps abreast of the latest trends in the industry by visiting trade exhibitions and attending training seminars.

Ben Stubbs

Ben Stubbs

Bridging the generation gap

The 39-year-old general manager of Lee Crane Hire in Central Queensland says he is an ‘in-betweener’

That’s by way of describing how he’s positioned as a leader between the baby-boomers and Generation Xers and the Gen-Y and younger staff.




One of the challenges in managing the privately-owned business was recognizing the strengths in both groups, said Ben Stubbs.

Mr Stubbs is in a good position to know. He is a Central Queenslander by birth who learned the ropes with early management positions at Ultratune in Rockhampton, the Vanderfield farm equipment retailers and with community organisations.

Lee Crane Hire is headquartered in Biloela in the heart of the southern Bowen Basin and employs more than 100 staff across the home and Gladstone bases.

The majority of the workforce is permanent though casual staff numbers vary in line with shutdown work.

The first step in managing people was in understanding your own strengths, weaknesses and passions, said the father of three children who are 10, four and two years old.

“I was married young, had my first mortgage at 24, have been in management roles since 25 and learnt about commitment and responsibility fairly early on in life,” Mr Stubbs said.

“Managing people is the predominant skill to take an organisation where you want to go,” he said.

“You need a bit of self awareness. If you understand what makes you tick, what you’re passionate about, you can use those skills to understand what other people are passionate about.

“I’m strong in team leadership. The days of autocratic leadership are over. I think if you study poor governance, you’d find many companies failed on that.”

The younger generation had a lot to contribute and generally also had a lot to learn, he said.

“My job is to bridge the gap between owners who are 60 and 30-40 year olds driving cranes.  There’s a lot of strength in harnessing and learning from the generation before us but it goes the other way as well. I am definitely in the gap somewhere.

“I have a lot respect for people like (Lee Crane Hire owner) Greg Lee who sensed opportunity, worked hard, put the effort in and got results.

“Our industry led younger people to have a nice measure of success but it was from standing on the shoulders of the Greg Lees of the world. In saying that what the young people do have to offer.

“They’re happy to move around, they want to be involved and have ownership. They’re flexible, not frightened of technology and more adaptable to change and you can create a lot of efficiency out of that.”

Mr Stubbs has a second job as Pastor for the Biloela Assemblies and God Church. He and his family weekends are spent building strength and resilience in the community.


Kaitlyn Moore

Kaitlyn Moore

Fighting for the formwork sector

Ipswich entrepreneur Kaitlyn Moore has taken on Chinese manufacturers in the formwork business and is now leading the charge to give the Australian industry a stronger voice.

The owner and managing director of O’Connell Agencies registered the Formworkers Association of Australia (FAA) last year.



“After 14 years in the construction industry, I became somewhat of an agony aunt of the formworkers, who rang me and offloaded their difficulties and challenges they faced within the industry, in both construction and management,” she said.

“I came to establish the FAA by listening to the needs, wants and problems of my clients and deciding to do something about it.”

The association is aimed at formwork companies and supply business owners rather than the general workforce.

Ms Moore said she was still doing the groundwork to create an online presence for the association to help accelerate its growth.

“We are currently looking for members – people who have an interest in the formwork industry and think they could be part of this platform to voice concerns and advance standards in the industry,” she said.


Ms Moore said her business was going from strength to strength after establishing manufacturing facilities at a 1.3ha factory site in Ipswich about a year ago.

“That has allowed me to increase production and manufacture around the clock if necessary,” she said.

“I have been able to accept bigger projects and really expand.”

Her business manufactures circular, rectangular and square forms for concrete building columns as well as the accessories need for commercial formwork.

Ms Moore grew up in Oak Valley outside Townsville before moving to Ipswich aged 11 after her mum, who was a teacher, was transferred.

“It brought me closer to my dad, who owned his own formwork company in Brisbane, and I guess that’s where my passion for the construction industry began,” she said.

She said she had started operating O’Connell Agencies from her garage in 2002, distributing nails and silicone to jobsites in Brisbane.

“I learnt how to import products from China, so started to buy in bulk and then wholesale to national formwork supply companies,” she said.

“When importing from China became very popular and my competition increased, I looked towards manufacturing to secure my future.”

Ms Moore made the switch four years ago and was manufacturing PVC column forms at a smaller site in Tingalpa, Brisbane before establishing the Ipswich factory.

She said her business had grown to the point where she was using nine machines, employed 17 people and had a multimillion-dollar turnover.

“I would like to make a point about my wonderful team – I wouldn’t be here without the support of the people around me,” Ms Moore said.

Ms Moore was recognised in the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Queensland’s annual Crystal Vision Awards last year, taking out an award for diversity.



Dave Hartigan

Dave Hartigan

Engineer inspired by great role models

General Sir John Monash is the ‘great leader’ of choice for one of Mackay’s emerging businesspeople.

Forty-one-year-old mechanical engineer Dave Hartigan is the deputy chair of Resource Industry Network (RIN) and general manager of FIELD Engineers.


He cites his parents and first employer as early influences.
His mother from farming stock taught him to immerse himself in work and make it more a continuum than the long gap between weekends.
His father taught him the cut and thrust of business, while the then-general manager of Eagle Engineering in Gladstone taught him to deliver a good product and service and be confident of its value.
“It is never based on one transaction, it is all about the long term. It has to be built on trust.” Mr Hartigan said.
“Engineering is such a technical field. If your client doesn’t trust you, you’re in trouble.”
A later period working for construction giant Bechtel showed how self-belief was integral in effective decisionmaking, he said.
“I was lucky to work for an engineering manager during the Yarwun refinery construction who pushed his engineers to be brave. He wouldn’t let anyone hide from making decisions, especially when crews needed an answer or direction,” Mr Hartigan said.
“Sometimes it’s hard work getting everyone to stick to the plan. Other times it takes courage to get everyone to agree to change the plan when you see something they can’t.”
The legendary Australian First World War general and eventual commander of Commonwealth forces General Sir John Monash is Mr Hartigan’s hero.
“He came from the outside, a Jew in Anglo Saxon-dominated Australia. And he was an engineer,” he said.
“He applied an engineer’s approach to military campaigns and he pulled off what no one thought was possible by applying new technology in ways other people hadn’t thought of.”
As a peak representative body, the Resource Industry Network (RIN) was helping members with practical skills and advocacy, Mr Hartigan said.
He credits current RIN chair Tony Caruso with leading the network’s evolution through the resources cycle.
“In the good times it was about enabling the membership to meet insatiable demand from a growing client base,” he said.
“Now it is about helping deliver better business management, including finance, HR and industrial relations. This in turn helps the membership deliver more efficient service to cost-focused clients.
“Advocacy for our industry has become really important.
“Politics can have enormous effect on encouraging or discouraging investment.
“An example is the Galilee Basin, where anti-coal activists are gaming the court system to bog the approval process for a mine. RIN keeps the community abreast of what this is doing to the local and state economies.”

Ben Hughes

Ben Hughes

Plan to open more doors for regional suppliers

Ben Hughes has made the sometimes-slippery concept of local content his business.

The Brisbane-based founder of Hughes et al has been networking, gathering data, speaking at regional forums and acting as a local content advisor on major projects in the Surat Basin region for about eight years.

Now he has teamed up with Strategenics managing director Chris Mills to develop EconomX – a project that aims to create better local content strategies and use technology to foster closer links between major project proponents, economic development groups and local suppliers.



Mr Hughes, who hails from Somerset in England, said his previous career path had seen him running major recruitment exercises for large corporations.

“I came to Australia in 2002 because Suncorp had to find about 2500 people a year and my role was to build the process and the strategy and the team,” he said.

He worked in Melbourne for ANZ and Hewlett Packard before being based in Brisbane to work in the mining sector.

“Then I got a phone call one day from a matron at the Proserpine hospital who told me off as one of my team’s recruitment activities had resulted in two of her nurses leaving to go and work on a mine site,” he said.

Mr Hughes said that encounter had given him food for thought about the social impact of major corporations’ recruitment and procurement policies on regional centres.

It came at a point when he was looking for a new career direction.

“I wanted to work in regional development and a mate mentioned Dalby was a good place to start,” he said.

“So over the next few years I drove into the region and learnt to be a business consultant, learnt about small business, volunteered for the chambers and just basically involved myself in as much economic activity and detail as I could so that I could understand how it worked.”

The impact of the flood disaster of 2010/11 on his Dalby and Chinchilla clients wiped out his budding enterprise and saw him snap up a reference-checking job in Brisbane as a standby.

In a twist of fate, people in the next office pod were working for a major CSG-LNG project contractor and were seeking someone with knowledge of Surat Basin networks and employment to help write a local content plan.

Mr Hughes said he had put up his hand and was later asked to come on board to deliver that plan for what was then Transfield.

“Since then I have been moving around major contractors developing better local content plans, particularly in procurement,” he said.

Mr Hughes said he was convinced that everyone he had worked with wanted to do the right thing – buy and employ locally – but there were many challenges not least in the fact that ‘local content’ was still being defined and interpreted differently.

“I agree that local content is a shared responsibility and that everyone has a role to play, the question is how do those responsibilities and roles interrelate?” he said.

“The focus of local content should be to engineer out the inefficiencies in local procurement and employment to generate  commercial benefits which in turn generate social dividends.”

Mr Hughes said he had teamed up with Mr Mills last year, finding a like mind in many respects and a complementary skills set to create EconomX.

“We are trying to start off a renaissance of local content conversation – so much has changed in the market, in the supply chain and in the community, that we believe there is a need to consolidate the lessons we have collectively learned, redefine what local content should now be and then drive participation in a strategy that we think can meet shared expectation,” he said.

He described EconomX as an online marketplace that would make it easier for regional businesses to access supply chain opportunities and jobs, and make it easier for major projects and corporations to find cost-effective and reliable local supply.

“However a system implemented in a region that doesn’t have a strategy and that doesn’t have the support of the parties that share in the local content responsibility won’t work. Our priority is to get the analysis right first, develop the strategy and coalesce the support, the system implementation comes after that due diligence”

One of the venture’s incubator projects – – is due to launch around July.

Mr Hughes described it as a FIFO mitigation strategy. “Step 1 is to build a body of evidence that shows that skills are available in regions,” he said.

More at and

Don McPhail

Don McPhail

Ergon Energy engineer leads local professional group

Taking a shine to solar has proved pivotal for the career of Don McPhail, the 2016 chair of Engineers Australia’s Townsville regional group.

As Ergon Energy’s senior network strategy and policy engineer, Mr McPhail focuses on issues surrounding the connection of alternative generation sources, energy storage and electric vehicles.



The Townsville-based role follows an overseas scholarship sparked by his work on the impacts and opportunities of the growing uptake of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Mr McPhail was born in Brisbane and “moved around a bit” as a child including time in Roma and attending high school near Woodford.

He was drawn to a career in the power industry and commenced as graduate engineer with Ergon Energy after studying at the University of Queensland.

“Given the geographical area Ergon Energy covers I began with them in Townsville, but also moved to Toowoomba and then Brisbane, where I finished the program and had been working on creating a strategy around addressing the impacts and opportunities of the growing uptake of solar PV,” Mr McPhail said.

“It was a catalyst for me in getting the E.S. Cornwall Scholarship that allowed me to then spend the next two years working abroad in the UK, Netherlands and US on global best practices in integration of generation, energy storage and electric vehicles into the electricity distribution network.”

He returned to Townsville about three years ago.

The growing focus on renewables and other new technology meant it was a particularly interesting time to be in his present role with Ergon, he said.

“It’s an area where not only is the technical side interesting, but so are the commercial, regulatory, legal, and stakeholder engagement areas as well,” Mr McPhail said.

Mr McPhail has been an active member of Engineers Australia for eight years.

He said his focus for 2016 as local group chair would include continuing the great work of the group over the last few years in delivering quality CPD (continuing professional development) and engaging with the industry.

He would also support Engineers Australia’s increased focus on advocacy and leadership in the community by the engineering profession, he said.

This was off to a good start in Townsville with a regional position policy released last year and an op-ed published in the Townsville Bulletin recently featuring 2015 local group chair Glenn Stephens.

“Probably one of the highlights for this year is we are aiming to host an event during Engineering Week in August to celebrate Townsville’s 150-year anniversary, and highlight the engineering history and achievements of the city, and involve the wider community,” Mr McPhail said.

This was likely to involve a display at Cotters Market in the CBD to share the information with the public, he said.

Outside his Ergon Energy and EA role, Mr McPhail said he loved travel and exploring – whether camping in North Queensland or venturing abroad.

“My wife and I bought an old miner’s cottage last year and so renovations now seem to fill my time, however I do make sure I find time for things like diving or yoga too,” he said.

“I’m currently completing an MBA and so enjoy continual learning.”


Get involved

The Townsville regional group of Engineers Australia meets on the third Thursday of every month at 5:30pm at Seasoned on Palmer St, Townsville.

The group welcomes new members to come along and join.

It also encourages members to rake part in the group’s LinkedIn network at




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