IN CELEBRATION of half a century of mining at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Blackwater Mine, the company is hosting a free community event next month with music, historical displays, activities for children and local stalls.
The 50-year anniversary celebration will include entertainment headlined by the sounds of much-loved Rockhampton duo Busby Marou.
Ben Hiatt, Blackwater Mine general manager, said the day would be an ideal opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the mine's history, milestones, achievements and contributions to the region.
"The event is also an opportunity to thank past and present employees and contractors for their involvement over the last 50 years of operations,” he said.
Mr Hiatt said people could bring picnic blankets and "enjoy an afternoon of music, share your stories, learn more about our history, and celebrate 50 years of mining in Blackwater”.
BHP communities specialist Peter Dowling said the mine had a rich history of supporting local business, local government initiatives and educating the region's youth.
"We see ourselves as part of the community and we've had a workforce here for 50 years in different shapes,” Mr Dowling said.
"It's incredibly important to add value to any community that we're a part of.
"It's also really important to recognise the people of Blackwater and the Central Highlands that have supported the mine.”
BMA Blackwater Mine has been involved in many formal and informal partnerships that have supported the community.
"Of recent times we've enjoyed working with the likes of the Central Highlands Regional Council, Central Highlands Development Corporation, the Blackwater PCYC, the three Blackwater schools, the Blackwater International Coal Centre and many local businesses, community and sporting groups,” Mr Dowling said.
"We're doing some particularly valuable work with the Blackwater cluster of schools, through the READ partnership.
"The cluster is held up as best practice for writing across the state, making strong relative gains with the local students.
"Who would have thought, that through our Curriculum Enhancement Program with Blackwater State High School, we played our role in supporting a group of students visit NASA in the United States?”
BMA's Business Support and Development Program supports a Business Development Officer (BDO) who plays an active role in training and developing local businesses to help them improve their capacity, sustainability and viability.
Mr Dowling said since 2012 the "highly valued” Local Buying Program had seen BHP operations spend more than $150 million with small businesses from our Queensland and New South Wales footprint.
Of that, some $53.5 million was spent in the Central Highlands.
"The program gives small businesses in our footprint areas direct opportunities to engage with us.
"Plus, it's essentially a way of giving us direct access to our local providers.”
Mr Dowling said providing backing and opportunities for apprenticeships in the region was another vital element of the company's recruitment plan, as well as a new program which provided students with the option of a paid "gap year” working at the mine.
"Blackwater Mine started the pilot gap year program, specifically targeting Blackwater State High School students who wanted to gain exposure to our operations,” he said.
"Students are able to apply while at school and then, at the end of Grade 12, begin working full-time for 12 months with BMA Blackwater Mine.
"They get full exposure across all departments on site, as well as some of our corporate functions, during this time so they can determine if they want to do something in the mining industry.
"It's a real eye-opener to realise how many disciplines and roles are required in the mining industry.”
The event will be on Saturday, October 7, from 2pm at the Blackwater Crushers Rugby League Fields.
Register at bwm50yrs.eventbrite .com.au.
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