TWELVE months ago I took my first trip underground at Angus Place Colliery.
That trip was a huge eye opener as to what goes on in a working coal mine and I carry fond memories and respect for the coal miners and the industry.
I recently experienced another trip underground in a completely different atmosphere.
This time at the Baal Bone Colliery now the first of its kind in Australia; a real life situation training centre.
The day started with the usual induction one must complete before even stepping into the above ground area of a coal mine.
It was then off to the women’s bath house to gear up with boots, overalls, hard hat, light, glasses and self rescuer — all set to go.
Technical Services manager Gary Linford was my guide and my aim was to cover a group from Mines Rescue who were in their second week of training as well as get a tour of the training facility which is set to transform the mining industry and take safety and production to the next level.
I was extremely impressed with the whole set up and what Xstrata were doing for their workforce (Xstrata own and operate the training facility).
One thing I noticed straight away was the amount of stone dust on the road, roof and walls underground.
I had to resist the urge to leave my mark as I wanted to press my hands into this soft white stuff which reminded me of icing sugar and remember it as a safety precaution in case of an explosion — it acts as a fire suppression.
Walking with the group of trainees was handy, not only do you get a lesson in mining, when it came time to take a photo, they all just shined their lights in the direction I needed and the photos turned out a lot better than in normal underground light.
Check out the fourteen page Mining and Industry feature in today's edition of the Lithgow Mercury.