A day to rem­i­nisce the good times

Mine work­mates re­unite

Central and North Burnett Times - - OVER 50 - Erica Mur­ree erica.mur­ree@cnbtimes.com.au

COMMERICAL Min­er­als was a ma­jor em­ployer for Biggenden fol­low­ing the clo­sure of the but­ter fac­tory and sawmill.

The mag­netite mine opened in April 1967 and closed in 1999.

Dur­ing this time the mine pro­duced 800,000 tonnes of fin­ished prod­uct which was ex­ported over­seas.

For­mer em­ploy­ees and man­age­ment re­united on Sunday at the Grand Ho­tel.

Fly­ing back from New Zealand, for­mer man­ager Derek Thomp­son said Biggenden was a ter­rific place to come to.

“It had a big ef­fect on our

❝ I really en­joyed my time with the com­pany and made many good friends.

— Peter Hughes

lives,” he said.

Re­union or­gan­iser Peter Hughes worked at the mines for seven years be­fore he was trans­ferred in 1973 to man­age and run the Mackay plant owned by the same com­pany.

“At Biggenden I worked with ex­plo­sives and then in the mill be­fore be­com­ing mill fore­man,” he said.

Luck­ily for him he gained many years of em­ploy­ment be­fore be­ing made re­dun­dant in 2015.

Mr Hughes said he really en­joyed his time with the com­pany and made many good friends.

Neil Har­vey now lives only two streets away from Peter in Mackay.

He worked at Com­mer­cial Min­er­als from 1972-1997.

“Dur­ing my stint there I had been a crusher, loader and a dump truck oper­a­tor,” he said.

In 1999 Neil gained em­ploy­ment with Queens­land Rail, end­ing up a sta­tion master at Gayndah Rail­way un­til its clo­sure in 2013.

Now semi-re­tired, he feels it is a great achieve­ment to have two gold watches from both his em­ploy­ers.

Clarie Har­vey had driven trucks for H Dowl­ing & Sons be­fore work­ing at the mines for 26 years.

Then it was back to Dowl­ings for an­other 12 years be­fore he re­tired.

He said he was for­tu­nate to cart the last load to the Moura Coal Wash­ery.

“It was a sad day to see the mines closed,” he said.

After 221⁄ years of em­ploy­ment Gerry Cooper was there the day the mine closed and helped dis­man­tle the equip­ment.

Mr Cooper said luck­ily for some of them the coun­cil re­ceived some govern­ment grants.

“We re­newed the foot­paths around town,” he said.

After work­ing on the coun­cil for a fur­ther four years, min­ing called again.

After spend­ing a year at Char­ters Tow­ers, he has been at Cra­cow for the past 13 years.

Look­ing at Mr Cooper’s gar­den, his love of all things old re­flects his time in the mines.

PHOTO: ERICA MUR­REE

THOSE WERE THE DAYS: Gerry Cooper, Clarie Har­vey, Neil Har­vey and Peter Hughes re­mem­ber their days work­ing to­gether at Commerical Min­er­als’ mag­netite mine near Biggenden.

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