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Mark Bevan: Getting the most out of your job

 

With a quarrying career spanning three decades, Mark Bevan has truly done it all. The Truro local has continued his path of industry growth since first receiving the 2018 Quarry Operator of the Year Award. Nickolas Zakharia reports. 

It is often said that a positive life starts with enjoying what you do for work. After all, those who enjoy their jobs generally go on to become more successful in the long run.

Mark Bevan has just started a new role as quarry manager at Hallett Resources in Truro, South Australia. The 48-year old has an extensive history in the quarrying industry that goes as far back as 1997. To this day, Mark has not lost his passion for an industry that is rife in opportunity. 

“I love it, I do love it,” he told Quarry. “I really like the variety and I do still to this day. I’ll be doing dust monitors one minute, entering the production figures another minute, and then checking on crushing systems like I was just doing with a belt weigher. I get a real kick out of it because it’s so varied.”

A LIFE IN QUARRYING

Mark first started his quarrying career at Linke Contracting in the 1990s. He operated machinery including scrapers, dozers, wheel loaders and trucks.

During his time at Linke Contracting, Mark worked at the gypsum quarry (amongst other sites) in Blanchetown, South Australia. Gypsum, a product commonly used in the agricultural industry, started Mark’s early understanding of sizing in regards to aggregates and rubbles.

“I was quite lucky because they [Linke] had a quite a large civil side doing roadways, wineries, things like that – and they also had a contract mining business,” Mark reflected. “I was lucky that I made myself learn everything so I could swap and change.”

Mark remained at Linke Contracting for 10 years and then moved to Penrice Quarry & Mineral in 2007, located in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. While at Penrice, he worked in a limestone quarry where he continued to grow his career, becoming a shift supervisor in the quarry’s production area.  

Inclined to learn as much as possible, Mark completed a self-funded Certificate IV in Extractive industries at Box Hill TAFE while still working at Penrice. It was here that he met Randy Klemm, someone who would go on to become his mentor. 

“An amusing fact was that Mark was supposed to do an end of course presentation that was only meant to go for 20 minutes but – including question time – lasted for one hour, such is his enthusiasm for the industry,” Klemm said in an IQA Awards nomination submission for Mark.

After a brief move to mining in Western Australia in 2011, Mark learnt the skills needed for weighbridge operations and blasting. He then decided to return to his studies at PolytechnicWA to complete his Quarry Manager’s Certificate. 

He took his knowledge to Seelander Quarries where he worked as Klemm’s second-in-command. He was still based there when he received the IQA’s Quarry Operator of the Year award in 2018.

With a constant drive to learn and experience more, Mark has most recently worked as a quarry manager at Boral’s Whyalla Quarry before moving closer to his family in Truro, where he now works for Hallett Resources. 

FROM OPERATOR TO MANAGER

Since Mark started his pursuit to become a quarry manager with his certificate at PolytechnicWA, the transition from quarry operator to manager has been significant.

Winning the Sydenham Hill Quarry Operator of the Year Award, sponsored by Retracom, brought attention towards several areas that Mark specialised in.

“That was everything from weighbridge operations through to laboratory skills, like taking samples, checking the PSDs on a shaker, dealing with customers and clients – and also suppliers and contractors about blast environments,” he said.

“At different times in my career I’ve been able to do the whole gamut of quarry operations, from operating small five-tonne – 125-tonne diggers to WA 900-wheel loaders. I’ve also been able to do crushing, pug milling and screening – all of those different types of operations I’ve done at different times of my career, I was very lucky.”

Mark’s commendable focus towards his craft has earned him many successes in his 23-year-long career. He believes there is always room to improve and his move to quarry manager has raised some new challenges to the diverse working environment that he thrives in.

“It’s a huge jump,” he said. “The hardest part of my job is how to deal with staff and just people in general. I’m not naturally gifted. I’m not one for having a huge presence about me. I have to work at everything I do – it doesn’t come naturally to me.

“People management is the biggest one for me and the financial side of things too was also a big thing for me.”

Mark Bevan first started his career in the quarrying industry in 1997 and still loves his job today.

WINNING THE AWARD 

Mark has been an active technical member of the IQA for more than a decade. 

With a keen interest in expanding his industry wisdom, he paid to visit New Zealand for an IQA study tour and visited Toowoomba for the first time in 2017 for the IQA’s national conference. 

“I had never been to Toowoomba in Queensland the first-time round,” he said. “The study tour gave me an opportunity to go and see a different country as well as being around like-minded people enjoying what I do – crushing and screening and having a look at all the aspects of the quarrying over in New Zealand on the North Island.”

While at Seelander Quarries, Mark was actually helping Randy Klemm prepare an application for the 2017 awards.

“It was raining quite heavily at the quarry that day so I sat down with my mentor, Randy Klemm, who I worked with at Penrice and ended up working for him at Seelander Quarries,” Mark recalled.

“I started trying to get information together to put a submission in for him for Quarry Manager of the Year, and in the process, we got a heap of information for me together and we ended up going with the one that I did.”

As runner-up in the IQA’s 2017 Quarry Operator of the Year Award, Mark decided to have another shot a year later – which he ended up winning. “The beauty of it was it gave me another chance,” he said.

After winning the award in 2018, Mark went to Las Vegas’ 2020 CONEXPO/CONAGG in the United States, prior to the travel impacts of COVID-19 this year. 

“I never realised how many different products are out there,” he said. “Everything from surveying through to environmental resources through to simple things like bucket teeth. They had whole batching plants set up, whole crushers set up. It was just mind-blowing, it really was.”

SAFETY FIRST

CONEXPO also opened Mark’s eyes to another nation’s industry safety standards. He believes safety in Australia’s quarrying industry is moving in the right direction.

“I think the awareness is there now – and it has been for a while,” he said. “People want to go home in the same way they went to work. Managers too want their staff to get home at the end of the day – they don’t want people to get injured on site.”

Mark said his role as a quarry manager aims to minimise risks and strike a balance between production and safety. 

“Because it is a high-risk environment, there will always be dangers, but it’s about minimising the risks,” he said. “From working out of a loader bucket when I first started, to moving track loaders around on the back of rock wagons, to now where everything is risk assessed,” Mark reflected.

“It was amazing to see that when I want to CONEXPO, the Americans were still behind us safety-wise. There is just a lot of more pinch points in their conveyors and different parts of machinery – whereas everything is risk assessed here. You’re looking for hazard IDs – it’s completely changed. It is a much safer industry because of it.”

Now working for Hallett Resources, Mark said he has been looking forward to being closer to his family, who have supported him through times where has worked hundreds of kilometres away. 

“With Hallett, it’s about building a new team and being close to my family,” he said. “My kids are getting older too – I’ve got three kids; our daughter is 16 and the twin boys who are 14 at this point. It’s about spending some time with them.

“Previously, I got a day to a day and a half at home per week and the rest of the time I lived away. By working here in Truro, the quarry is literally five minutes from home.  It’s unbelievable.”

For more information about the IQA Awards, which will reopen for submissions and nominations in 2021, visit quarry.com.au

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