Bravus CEO David Boshoff is focused on harnessing the strong local support for Carmichael to deliver a project that utilises mine site innovation, a commitment to safety, a strong indigenous skills component, and a regional supplier network.
"At a time when the local and global economy is struggling, we are pleased to be supporting fellow Australian companies and local businesses, making the most of skills and expertise you can find right here in our own Queensland backyard," he told Australia's Mining Monthly.
"Every week we are reaching exciting new major milestones on the Carmichael mine and rail projects bringing us a step closer to the reality of completion.
"We are now well underway building the mine, the coal handling and processing plant is under construction, and rail track laying is also pushing ahead quickly.
"We are on track and looking forward to producing first coal in 2021."
To date Bravus has directly employed more than 2600 across the Carmichael project, which is more than the 1500 direct jobs it committed to before starting construction.
"Since 2018 we have spent more than $2.2 billion in contracts Australia-wide, with $1.8 billion of this being spent on contracts in Queensland and spread across all corners of the state," Boshoff said.
"This approach has given the chance for as many regions as possible to benefit from our project, while also enabling us to tap into the highly skilled construction and resources industry workforce that Queensland possesses.
"Our commitment to a local Queensland workforce has been especially beneficial during the past 12 months. As we work with smaller, private, and Queensland-based contractors and suppliers we have been able to keep working through the COVID-19 pandemic with appropriate measures in place."
Boshoff ruled out implementing remote operating centres at the mine site, despite the industry moving in that direction.
"The Carmichael mine and rail line will use the same conventional techniques and equipment used in other Queensland coal mines," he said.
"This means people, not robots, will drive the trains and the trucks and excavators, fix engines in the workshops, cook the meals, and maintain the conveyor belts. We are about real jobs for real people."
Boshoff believes the company stands to benefit from using local employment and has drawn upon research and modelling to support its strategy.
"The resource modelling techniques that have been used on the Carmichael project have been highly beneficial for us, as well as our local communities and the state and national economies, so we can see how other companies running projects in the future would see the benefits of operating under a similar delivery model," he said.
Boshoff said the Carmichael project had some of the strictest environmental conditions ever imposed on a mining project in Australia.
He is not fazed by activists who frequently seek to disrupt construction but is concerned when employees are put in danger.
"The great thing about living in a democracy is that everyone is entitled to express their own opinion, provided they do so in a way that is legal, respectful of others and does not put themselves or other people in harm's way," Boshoff said.
"Being a responsible mining operator is essential to ensure the safety of your people, the local environment, and to ensure the well-being of your surrounding communities."
Bravus has more than 100 environmental approvals, and manages thousands of conditions and commitments to the environment.
"Our environmental plans and strategies were prepared by experts with many of these plans also reviewed by third-party specialists," Boshoff said.
"There has been rigorous scrutiny under national environmental law of our environmental record in Australia."
Boshoff said there was extensive community consultation, which informed the stringent assessment and approval conditions for the Carmichael project.
"In many cases we go beyond compliance requirements and exceed expectations," he said.
"Some examples of things we do to manage carbon emissions efficiently on our sites in Australia, include minimising truck haulage routes, and using solar power at our camp site to power radio communications.
"We take our responsibilities very seriously because we know there are thousands of workers, hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of community members who are relying on us to get it right."
Bravus staff regularly meet with Traditional Owners and Indigenous communities to discuss forthcoming job opportunities and supplier contracts.
"Our Indigenous Participation Plan comprises the following commitments and we are on track to meet these commitments: a minimum $7.5 million spend on Indigenous education bursaries and pre-employment programs; a minimum 10% Indigenous traineeships; a minimum 7.5% Indigenous employment target; and a minimum spend of $250 million in Indigenous contracting and business development," Boshoff said.
"We have a number of Indigenous businesses that work on the Carmichael Project, such as Woongal Environmental Services, which conducts environmental monitoring and surveying services for the project.
"We are determined to care for our local environment in line with our project approvals, commitments in our management plans, and all regulatory standards. This is particularly important when it comes to areas of cultural and environmental significance like the Doongmabulla Springs."
Through the partnership with Woongal, Bravus gets the scientific and environmental expertise needed to deliver on its environmental management plans, while further increasing the Wangan and Jagalingou People's involvement in the Carmichael mine project.
"The partnership brings the cultural knowledge of the Indigenous people into the Bravus business so that we continue to learn from the Traditional Owners who will in turn, strengthen the connections to their country," Boshoff said.
He said Bravus' safety focus during construction had been on developing robust and fit-for-purpose safety systems to support a positive and deliberate safety culture moving forward into operations.
"We are driving risk-prioritised design across the project and have developed a monitoring regime to help track safety indicators and outcomes across the wide number of combined work fronts on the project," Boshoff said.
"The executive leadership team drives this safety focus with a ‘leadership by example' approach. The project leadership team members are expected to interact with their reporting lines regularly through a series of structured audits and inspections, and also through less formal conversations and interactions that drive home the safety priority message at a human level."
One of the safety initiatives Bravus introduced for mine and rail operations is the Field Leadership Program. This is a system of interactions to make safety personal and real across the mine's active work fronts.
"The care and focus shown by all our leaders in these interactions serves both as an example and also an encouragement for the frontline team to actively engage with each other around safety," Boshoff said.
"We have also introduced the Rsured platform, which is a centralised online SHMS [safety and health management system] document management system; certification and authorisation to work system; safety statistics management and reporting system, risk management system; online learning and management system; contractor management system; and more."
The Bravus team has worked with the Rsured development team to customise the platform to provide specific company functionality.
A key capability developed for the Rsured platform is the ability to be accessed and used on tablet devices in remote locations, or locations that do not have data coverage.
"Delivering a centralised tool that focuses on accessibility and useability will lead to higher quality reporting and greater reporting compliance across the project," Boshoff said.
"As we shift from construction to operation, Bravus will continue to operate with a focus on safety and improved safety outcomes and we will continue to support positive and deliberate safety culture."