“AWESOME” was the group exclamation from students as St Joseph’s High School Aberdeen’s tour of Bengalla Mine ended with a bang late last month.
Located outside the safety exclusion zone at Bengalla’s observation platform, pupils and teachers had a rare bird’s-eye view of two blasts within the mine pit.
The tour was one of three on November 28, 29 and 30, encompassing 99 Year 9 St Joseph’s students and their mentors as part of the Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue’s School Mine Tours Program, which will see more than 1000 Year 9 and Year 5 pupils tour mine sites across the Upper Hunter over the next 12 months.
The youngsters were in expert hands during the Bengalla Mine tour with Bengalla CEO Cam Halfpenny functioning as chief tour guide, accompanied by technical services manager John Campbell, community relations specialist Debbie Day, mining engineer Hayden Nicol and electrical apprentice Joaby Stevens.
The Dialogue’s School Mine Tours Program aims to educate Upper Hunter students on all aspects of coal mining including its impacts on the community and the benefits it provides in our day-to-day lives.
The initiative gives pupils and teachers the unique opportunity of seeing mining operations up close while presenting factual and unbiased information.
The overall School Tours Program has been put together by a working group including community and industry representatives and teachers and aims to demystify the mining process while teaching the facts instead of opinion or emotion.
In conjunction with the tours program, the working group is developing in-class materials which will align with the Year 9 syllabus.
With all the dialogue’s mining industry partners supporting the program, tours will be conducted at most open cut mine sites across the Upper Hunter.