Chalmers is well known for running the university course that provides statutory coal mine ventilation officer qualifications.
“We keep churning them out,” he said.
“We’ve put over 200 through the course in the 13 years we have been running it and it never ceases to amaze me that the demand for the course hasn’t waned.”
Given that there are 30 Australian longwall mines, initial expectations were that 80 graduates would suffice when factoring in possible worker retirements.
But Chalmers explained the unanticipated popularity of the course.
“It’s being used by people who want to become mine managers, to become undermanagers, to move into technical services roles.
“So the benefit to the industry I think is underappreciated in the sense that we haven’t publicised the fact that, hey we have a lot of people at a lot of mines who now have ventilation officer qualifications – who are now holding senior management roles.”
While the smallest year of the course only rolled out nine ventilation officers, there are 44 course applicants for this year and 80% are assumed to pass.
Chalmers is the lead organiser of the Inaugural Australian Mine Ventilation Conference, which will be held over two days in Sydney starting September 5.
He expects the conference will provide an element of refresher training to past graduates who attend while there are plans to make the wider conference proceedings publicly available at a yet to be determined price.
There are plans to host the conference, which is “by the industry, for the industry”, every two years.