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Thiess pools resources to address industry labour shortages

Thiess is tackling the industry's labour shortages by leveraging the skills and expertise of its broader group.

Thiess pools resources to address industry labour shortages

The global mining services provider has efficiently deployed workers from its subsidiary, RTL, to service its Queensland projects, ensuring uninterrupted operations and greater certainty for its clients.  

Thiess General Manager Mining Queensland, Chris Bourke, emphasised the benefits of a collaborative approach, providing Thiess with the flexibility and resources needed to exceed client expectations. 

“The additional manning from RTL has allowed our team to focus on what truly matters, delivering exceptional outcomes for our clients,” Chris said. 

“By working collaboratively as a group, we’ve been able to tap into a skilled workforce and efficiently deploy them where they are needed most.” 

RTL General Manager Owen Cavanough said the RTL team has been nicknamed the “flying squad” and he’d even had jumpers made for the team with that name for comradery.  

“Last year on the back of an ordinary wet season, Thiess needed some stretch capacity at one of its Queensland projects, so we provided about 40 people from RTL in Victoria,” Owen said. 

“Earthmoving works are only possible for about six to nine months a year due to the winter in Gippsland, so following the success of that program last year, we’ve continued to support Thiess with preparing skilled plant operators for their Queensland projects. 

“This year is different as we also have the collaboration of Thiess in New South Wales. By utilising their fantastic training facility and with the leadership team’s support we are leveraging that facility to upskill more people to provide additional stretch capacity for Queensland. This is a genuine Thiess team effort.” 

The RTL team drive a mix of approximately 20 rigid (777 and 785) and 60 (20/24/60 T) articulated trucks, and through the training they can be upskilled to drive the larger haul trucks operated by Thiess.  

“The 7/7 FIFO roster is supported with a direct charter flight from Latrobe Valley,” Owen said. 

“This project is fantastic as it provides full-time employment for our people who were previously casuals, and we’ve seen examples of team members now being able to access finance and buy a house for the first time. 

“There are so many unseen social benefits for employees and their families with the social stability that full-time work provides.” 

FIFO Project Supervisor Emma Champion agreed, stating the personal benefit of the initiative for RTL employees was life-life changing.  

“The 7/7 roster is really allowing people to have a week with their families – to be really present when they are at home and to support their partner with school picks ups or appointments,” Emma said.  

“I have noticed how people are really recognising the importance of quality time at home, and that is what FIFO creates.  

“Staff are expanding their skillsets, and this leads to even more career pathways. 

“One of our employees has worked so hard to pursue her goal of driving one of the biggest excavators in Australia, and that has been so rewarding for us to see as a team.”  

That RTL employee is machine operator Heidi who has been training to use a 600-tonne excavator at a Thiess project in the Bowen Basin. Heidi was part of the original flying squad and expressed her desire to stay.  

“I’ve had the goal to get into mining ever since I worked in civil construction,” Heidi said. 

“I’ve been training to use the Liebherr 996 Excavator and I’m now on minimal training, in the cab alone but under a supervisor. 

“My goal is to be 100 per cent confident and competent in that machine. This opportunity is helping me achieve my work goals, and personal goals too. In my free time I really look forward to travelling.” 

RTL Civil Manager and Project Manager FIFO, Jeff Rose, said the benefit of upskilling staff improved efficiencies across the Thiess and RTL businesses. 

“This is a huge project for both companies, as we have excess workers during the winter period and we tended to lose them if we didn’t have work for them,” Jeff said.  

“Instead, we can send people north, and those people are gaining experiences and lessons. They bring that knowledge back and are suggesting more efficient ways of working. We have seen this on both sides. To have that sharing experience through our group has been so beneficial.”