WHEN MIN­ING CAME TO TOWN

The Australian Mining Review - - WHITEHAVEN COAL - RAY CHAN

When it comes to the im­pact of White­haven Coal on the lo­cal com­mu­nity, Jack Camp­bell is one of the miner’s big­gest sup­port­ers.

Jack and his fam­ily have been part of the Narrabri Shire for gen­er­a­tions, and to­gether with his fa­ther, run the fam­ily busi­ness Namoi WasteCorp, started in the town 19 years ago.

“Due to White­haven and the min­ing in­dus­try in the area – the Narrabri un­der­ground longwall mine – we have seen growth and found op­por­tu­ni­ties that would be un­think­able for small busi­nesses in most small com­mu­ni­ties,” Jack said.

“Namoi WasteCorp has pro­vided waste col­lec­tion and re­cy­cling ser­vices to all in­dus­tries in the Narrabri shire since its in­cep­tion, but now thanks to re­cent con­tracts awarded to us from min­ing com­pa­nies, we pro­vide ser­vices across the Narrabri, Gunnedah and Liver­pool plains shires.

“We are cur­rently con­tracted to pro­vide waste ser­vices at all White­haven fa­cil­i­ties across the Gunnedah Basin.”

The suc­cess story is re­flected in the busi­ness’ 17 em­ploy­ees and 14 trucks, and its abil­ity to sup­ply a sub­stan­tial amount of work to sub-con­trac­tors lo­cal to the re­gion.

Jack said their sit­u­a­tion was not unique. “We work with a broad spec­trum of in­dus­tries in the re­gion and there are nu­mer­ous lo­cal busi­nesses that get a con­sid­er­able por­tion of their in­come, di­rectly and in­di­rectly, from the min­ing in­dus­try that surrounds us,” he said.

“Min­ing and agri­cul­ture have worked side by side in the re­gion for as long as liv­ing mem­ory.

“I think that this alone is the rea­son why Narrabri and Gunnedah re­main to be thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ties.”

Over the years though, farm­ing has pro­vided less and less di­rect em­ploy­ment.

As a re­sult, the com­mu­nity ben­e­fits that flow from farm­ing now re­side in lo­cal sup­pli­ers which can fa­cil­i­tate goods and ser­vices re­quired by agri­cul­ture.

More of­ten than not, these sup­pli­ers can di­ver­sify to of­fer goods and ser­vices to the min­ing in­dus­try as well.

“Con­sid­er­ing the drought that has hit the re­gion hard, farm­ers are not the only ones feel­ing the pinch,” Jack said.

“A lot of these sup­pli­ers I’ve spo­ken about would not be able to keep their doors open if it weren’t for the lo­cal min­ing in­dus­try.

“Ma­jor agri­cul­tural dis­tri­bu­tion and re­search fa­cil­i­ties are down­siz­ing or shut­ting down re­sult­ing in sig­nif­i­cant un­em­ploy­ment lo­cally.

“As farm­ing prac­tices be­come more stream­lined, young peo­ple are met with less op­por­tu­nity re­gion­ally and need the pro­fes­sional job prospects that the min­ing in­dus­try can pro­vide.”

Jack said that thanks to White­haven Coal and the lo­cal min­ing in­dus­try, fam­i­lies like his were able to keep their chil­dren in town.

“Nor­mally, they would have to leave for re­gional and cap­i­tal cities to find mean­ing­ful work. And they prob­a­bly would never re­turn,” Jack said.

“But now the kids are stay­ing – there’s more op­por­tu­nity for them.

“They are able to pur­sue pro­fes­sional ca­reers like en­gi­neer­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence while still be­ing able to live in the com­mu­nity where they grew up.

“This is rare in coun­try towns these days.”

Jack said he felt coun­try towns were dy­ing across Aus­tralia, largely be­cause of lack of em­ploy­ment and mean­ing­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Yet Narrabri and Gunnedah have re­versed that trend: not be­cause of the work of the lo­cal coun­cils, nor some lo­cal or state gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive.

Sim­ply, it’s be­cause min­ing came to town.

Jack and fa­ther, Ron Camp­bell, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Namoi WasteCorp.

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