“No-one’s going to offer a sensible price if they haven’t got five years of coal in front of them, proven up to a very high degree,” said Nicholls.
Given the litany of problems associated with North Goonyella, there are those who were bemused at Nicholls’ decision to take the job. To the man himself though, North Goonyella is a bit like a Rubick’s cube: all the pieces are there, it is just a matter of getting them into sync.
New occupational health and safety training manager Greg Hunt believes workers at the mine now have a sense of focus and direction. Most importantly the fact that coal is starting to come off the longwall more steadily means that jobs will remain intact.
Nicholls believes sound people management is the key to the mine’s success.
“At North Goonyella it really stood out to me that these people were demoralised partly due to no direction over a long period of time and partly due to an almost continuous struggle to produce coal. They have spent almost as much time digging longwall faces out as they have actually operating.”
Said one longwall operator: “I don’t agree with everything Brian’s done, but what I like is he did lay his cards on the table from day one.”