Events, Features, Uncategorized

Re-think, re-source, re-engage

The Institute of Quarrying Australia National Conference has come roaring back onto the industry’s calendar.

After a number of COVID-related changes and delays, the Institute of Quarrying Australia National Conference has come roaring back onto the industry’s calendar.

Quarry 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 Institute of Quarrying Australia (IQA) National Conference showcased the city of Newcastle and provided opportunities to re-connect through an innovative and engaging program, which focused on the future and what “the new norm” might mean for the quarrying industry:

  • Re-Think – new technology, sustainability, change management, regulation, innovation and re-thinking our approaches to business and operation
  • Re-Source – access to materials, economic development and social licence to operate underpin how the industry will move forward
  • Re-Engage – realising the importance of people and the workforce in the future. How do we manage the human aspects of business with our people, customers, suppliers and community?

Day one
The conference kicked off with delegates heading out on a visit to the Newcastle branch of the Coal Services Mine Rescue team, one of five New South Wales branches at which teams can visit to be trained in mine safety.

Using facilities such as 360° virtual reality room and the mock-up underground coal mine beneath the branch, on-site teams can simulate everything they’ll need to know in a quarrying or mining emergency.

The Port of Newcastle then hosted a boat tour that cruised past silos and sheds holding key materials such as grains, steel and sand, all of which help to build and uplift Australia’s east coast.

Day one’s site tour concluded with a rendezvous back at “the hangar” adjacent to the conference exhibition centre, where John Deere exhibited some of its finest machinery, including an 844L aggregate handler wheel loader.

Later on Tuesday evening, conference platinum sponsor Hitachi hosted a welcome reception at the Newcastle Museum.

After two years of online meetings, virtual chats and other cyber communications, this reception offered an opportunity for many long-awaited in-person conversations to finally take place between colleagues, business partners and, maybe just as importantly, old friends.

A speech by Matt McCarthy, Hitachi Construction Machinery Australia National Major Account Manager, set the tone for the evening as he welcomed all distinguished guests to what became a successful evening. (And with free pinball and caricaturist on hand, how could it not be?)

Day two
The IQA National Conference got underway in more official capacity on Wednesday morning.

MC Steve Davis was a brilliantly warm and welcoming personality around the event, starting with a bright and early Welcome to Country.

Federal Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt delivered an address via video link before Secretary for the Department of Regional NSW Gary Barnes discussed current trends in the resources sector.

But it was keynote speaker Michael McQueen who might have just stolen the show with an insightful talk about re-thinking the future. A multi-award-winning speaker, trend-forecaster and bestselling author of nine books, McQueen prompted the room to consider his tidal trends that shaped the last two years of pandemic living and how they will shape the future.

McQueen’s presentation and what it means for the IQA and how the institute ensures it is tackling “the tide not the wave” struck a particular chord with IQA Vice President Grant Farquhar.

“A key point is ensuring our relevance and pitching to the right audiences and stakeholders,” he said. “(We need to) elevate the professionalism of the industry and its people.

“We have highly skilled and capable people, but this is largely unrecognised outside the industry. What is the IQA’s role in building this recognition?”

Farquhar was also struck by the idea of the best ways of attracting the next generation of employees to the quarrying industry.

“The industry needs to seek out this generation – really put our arms around them – and sell the benefits of a career with a huge level of diversity,” he said.

“We already have great platforms through, for example, Women in Quarrying, so we have to leverage that and attract those from outside the industry.”

IQA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kylie Fahey and President Shane Braddy presented the IQA Awards, which will be discussed over this year’s editions of Quarry.

Later in the morning, a panel including Hanson CEO Phil Schacht, Holcim CEO George Agriogiannis, Boral Chief Operating Officer (COO) Darren Schultz, and Adelaide Brighton COO Andrew Dell discussed the outlook for the industry and how each major company would manoeuvre into the future.

Conference platinum sponsors Hitachi, Komatsu and Caterpillar each gave a presentation on their respective technology systems and how they would re-think the future of quarrying, before Weir Minerals hosted a lunch on the exhibition floor.

Speaking of the exhibition floor, a plethora of products was displayed across three separate rooms, filled with dozens of companies and their representatives excited at the opportunity to again meet their customers face-to-face.

While it featured multitudes of fantastic exhibitors, only one could be crowned the best of 2022 and the Exhibitor of the Year Award went to GreaseBoss. The IQA extended its congratulations to the Queensland start-up, whose primary purpose is to verify that industrial machinery is correctly greased, for not only an engaging exhibition, but for its work building a business from scratch during the pandemic.

Boral executives Victoria Sherwood and Jason Sweeney presented to a packed conference room on the topic of recycling and the circular economy, prompting many to consider how they source materials for everyday quarry operations. To conclude Wednesday, Komatsu hosted a dinner at the

Newcastle Racecourse. The construction machinery company celebrated its 100th year with a room brimming with quarrying professionals from around Australia, while the IQA President’s Medal was deservedly awarded to Epiroc Regional Manager and industry stalwart John Stanton.

Day three
The conference’s final day saw some fascinating presentations on leadership and engagement from Dr Ali Walker, a human connection scientist specialising in leadership, connection and culture, and Hanson Eastern Regional General Manager Scott Tipping.

Rachael Robertson discussed leadership in her expedition to Antarctica, where 17 people became a hard-working, cooperative team out of necessity and respect.

Shane Braddy’s presentation on mental health and the support the IQA is building for its members was timely and necessary.

He outlined the steps and goals the association plans to undertake to ensure everyone at the conference, as well as those unable to attend, would view mental safety as being on the same pedestal as which physical safety is currently lofted. (See page 44 for a more detailed breakdown of Braddy’s presentation.)

In line with the rest of the event, Caterpillar’s gala dinner to close the conference was a night to remember. Entertainment was lively and the food was second to none.

The conference was a major hit and showed that in-person events are well and truly back on the agenda for the quarry industry.

The IQA thanks everyone for their attendance and looks and look forward to seeing people at branch events around the country, as well as the 2024 IQA Conference in Adelaide.

This feature appeared in the May issue of Quarry.

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