After a number of COVID-related changes and delays, the Institute of Quarrying Australia (IQA) National Conference has come roaring back onto the calendar.
Colleagues from all over Australia came together in Newcastle from March 29–31 to celebrate their industry and take advantage of a diverse range of education and networking opportunities, as well as a number of social gatherings.
With the theme, ‘Re-Think, Re-Source, Re-Engage’, the 63rd IQA National Conference showcased the city of Newcastle and provided opportunities to re-connect through an innovative and engaging program.
The event kicked off with a handful of site visits, including to the Newcastle branch of the Coal Services Mine Rescue team, the Port of Newcastle, and ‘the hangar’ adjacent to the exhibition centre where John Deere exhibited some of its finest machinery.
Hitachi hosted a fantastic welcome reception at the Newcastle Museum on Tuesday night. This well-attended social event was a huge hit and saw many long-awaited – and in-person – conversations finally take place between colleagues, business partners and old friends.
When the conference officially kicked off on Wednesday morning, Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt gave an address via video link, and Secretary for Mining, Exploration and Geoscience Gary Barnes examined current trends in the resources sector, before keynote speaker Michael McQueen discussed re-thinking the future.
Once IQA Chief Executive Officer Kylie Fahey and President Shane Braddy handed out the first round of IQA Awards for the week (which will be discussed in depth over this year’s editions of Quarry), a number of industry luminaries gave presentations on a range of topics, including the outlook for the industry, new technologies and how they would re-think the future of quarrying, recycling and the circular economy, and more.
On the exhibition floor, a huge number of products were displayed across three separate rooms, filled with dozens of companies and their representatives excited for the opportunity to meet customers face-to-face once more.
Wednesday concluded with Komatsu hosting a dinner at the Newcastle Racecourse, where the construction machinery company celebrated its 100th year with a room brimming with quarrying professionals from around Australia.
The conference’s final day saw some fascinating presentations on leadership and engagement – including one in the context of an expedition to Antarctica – from various industry leaders.
Shane Braddy gave a timely presentation on mental health and the support the IQA is building for its members, outlining some steps the Institute will take to improve this area over the coming months and years.
In line with the rest of the event, Caterpillar’s gala dinner on the closing night was one to remember. The IQA President’s Medal was awarded, entertainment was lively, and the food was second to none.
The opportunity for an in-person event as strong and comprehensive as the IQA National Conference was a welcome gift for the quarrying industry, and one attendees won’t soon forget.
Keep an eye out for a more detailed recap of the IQA Conference in the May issue of Quarry.