A day to reminisce the good times
Mine workmates reunite
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.
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.