Remote support for our clients: Hugh’s story

Principal Mining Consultant at MEC Mining, Hugh Cassidy shares how he is continuing to support his clients through the expediential threat engulfing operations worldwide.

“As an experienced Operations Manager finishing my rotation at the Lihir Gold mine in PNG, when Newcrest Mining announced that they would be stopping FIFO flights from Australia my first thought was not about getting home to Australia; it was about how can I help them maintain the momentum on their improvement initiatives when I am back in Australia.

Arriving back in Brisbane coming home to settle into my 14-day self-isolation period and being human I started to dwell on how unfair life can be. Stuck inside after working for a month. But anyone who knows me understands I don’t dwell on negatives for very long. So, I started to look at the reality of the situation.

The mining industry is going to be a key part of the strategy for Australia to pull through the COVID-19 pandemic. Already our borders are closed, our service industries are being devastated so we need a flagship.

Therefore, remote work is not only essential it has now become more of a national responsibility. We need to keep the country moving in this time of dire need. We need to provide the fundamental and financial backbone to help the recovery process when we have conquered this national challenge.

Looking back on a long career I am surprised at how our industry has adapted as far as working remotely is concerned and how the many professionals in our industry have unwittingly been working remotely for years. Thinking on my career my first thoughts were about the strategies to cater for skill shortages, Gen Y’s for work life balance, carer’s leave, job sharing etc.

The list goes on and then I thought back in my career, and to remote technology. I remember being in Port Hedland hospital for the birth of my daughter some 26 years ago. Reading reports and sending faxes back to site. Doing my degree by distance education as would many of the readers might have done with online studies. Working remotely getting work done, submitting that work. 

We have been slowly progressing towards this day. Who would have thought that a pandemic would be the big cause to drop all the procedural, beurocratical, trust issues that have been keeping us from implementing a wider range of remote work? 

Some of our clients have been at the forefront of remote work by centralising services such as dispatch and Tech services to major capitals. So, I think it’s the time, I remember the days after getting off the boat (plane) from Scotland some 30 years ago. Memory tells me that a letter home took about three weeks, a phone call back to Scotland basically meant a day trip to Sydney CBD to queue up for a phone at the GPO.

Today we have, emails, the “cloud”, Skype, and things the Webex that make remote work so easy and productive. For years it was the people on the mine who were doing work and sending it down to head office, 2020 might be the year that leadership in the mining industry realises that there is no going back, and that remote work is more the norm than the exception.

At MEC Mining, and as the 2020 consultancy company of the year, we pride ourselves for being at the forefront of adding maximum value to our clients around the globe. Little did we know that our recent restructure would put us in the perfect position to be innovative, adaptable, flexible and creative in supporting our customers to give them the right help, at the right time and to help them navigate through these incredible challenges our industry faces.

The jury is out for now. Is this the new normal? Do you have a need that can be achieved remotely? Or is there a logical place for MEC Mining in your strategy or structure moving forward?”