GAP YEAR: Blackwater State High School Year 12 students talk about the BMA Apprentice Program.
GAP YEAR: Blackwater State High School Year 12 students talk about the BMA Apprentice Program. BMA Coal

Company influences our region

AHEAD of landmark 50-year celebrations tomorrow, the Blackwater Mine is evoking memories and community-minded aspirations from those involved with its historic operations, including management and locals.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance Blackwater Mine general manager Ben Hiatt said he held a nostalgic view of Blackwater Mine, and respected its history as a workplace, economic engine and home for many.

"I'm often reminded of the site's rich history in conversations with our team,” he said.

"Just recently, I drove to the bottom of the mine, some 65 kilometres, to better understand our future and the potential is something quite remarkable.

"The workforce is a true credit to the mine, and a group of individuals that I'm really proud of. For 50 years our people have played a vital role at the mine and within the community.

"Our place in the community is something I really value, particularly as we've experienced highs and lows over the years, and the support has continued. We continue to play our part, supporting local businesses through the Local Buying Program, community programs, education and in partnerships with the Central Highlands Regional Council.”

Tomorrow's event will include entertainment headlined by popular Rockhampton duo Busby Marou.

Blackwater State High School principal Frank Brunetto said he was looking forward to the celebrations, which also marked BMA's ongoing support in the region.

He said the town's schools worked with BMA as part of the READ partnership which had facilitated a focus on literacy and numeracy for students.

Mr Brunetto said the funding provided by BMA supported a Head of Literacy role that worked across the two primary schools and the high school, specialising in writing and working with both children and teachers.

"We're looking at writing skills in every single subject, not just English.

"I think the support is wonderful, especially for our schools. It's making a difference to our students' futures and their lives,” he said.

Mr Brunetto said BMA's funding and support to enhance curriculum had also allowed the school to bring guest speakers to the region for awards evenings, which helped motivate and inspire young locals.

"Billy Moore, the former Queensland rugby league representative, came last year and spoke to the kids about motivation and success, and how it is not just given to you, but something you have to work hard for.”

Mr Brunetto said students also benefitted from involvement in the BMA Gap Year Program, which gave them the opportunity to spend a year at Blackwater Mine to experience the many facets of a mining operation and investigate the various employment opportunities.

"It gives the kids an opportunity to see what the mines have to offer with all the different avenues available, from truck drivers to diesel fitters, to accountants, engineers and geologists.”