Organised by:

The AusIMM

Platinum Sponsors:

Atlas Copco



Celebrating 40 years

Celebrating 40 years!

This year we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Underground Operators Conference. Conceived in Broken Hill in 1977 it will have travelled over 22,000km when it arrives at the Gold Coast in October almost 40 years to the day since the first of 404 papers to date was delivered. A total of 23 at the first meeting. We spoke about Windarra, Mount Isa, Renison, Dolphin, Cleveland, CSA and Broken Hill as well as the now usual smattering of equipment and general papers. It’s a tribute to the robustness of our industry that most of the mines listed are still producing and contributing to the Australian economy and remainder might yet produce again.

It took us five years to realise that this was a good idea, but we reconvened in Queenstown in October 1982 for a further 23 papers. Then followed Kalgoorlie in 1985 (30 Papers), Mount Isa in 1988 (26 papers) Ballarat in 1992 (29 papers) and back to Kalgoorlie in 1995 (35 papers). Iconic Australian mining centres all. The conference arrived in Townsville in 1998. The program of 38 papers was the largest yet. We liked it so much that we went back again 2002. Who doesn’t like the Queensland tropical coast; 45 papers this time.

Unfortunately, we had outgrown our mining centre roots. In 2005 we were in Perth when 48 papers was our record to date. Launceston in 2008 (33 papers), Canberra in 2011 (37 papers) and Adelaide in 2014 (37 papers). Gold Coast (?); we have accepted over 70 abstracts.

But papers don’t just happen. We and our colleagues write them. Our 404 papers to date have been written by 608 authors. Adrian Pratt is our most prolific author with his name on the authors list seven times. Chris Carr, Gary Davidson and Alan Robertson have hit the keys on five occasions, Rick Brake, Malcolm Dorricott, Karl Guilfoyle and Mike Lovitt four each; some of them might even have used a type writer or biro. A further 23 authors have three papers, 72 two and we have 505 single timers. All have contributed to the success of the series.

Records of attendance are a little harder to come by, but over 2000 have attended the last five meetings with event attendance doubling in that time. While you might have expected more people in Perth than in Townsville, who would have anticipated more attendees in Launceston than in Perth and more in Canberra than in Launceston if it wasn’t the product rather than the location that drew the crowd.

The Underground Operators Conference will visit Queensland for the fourth time in 2017. It has been to Western Australia three times, Tasmania twice and New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and South Australia one time each.

So, it remains for me to invite all underground operators and all interested mining industry professionals to the Gold Coast in October 2017 for what is expected to be a worthy 40 year anniversary.

Peter Hills FAusIMM(CP)
Conference Chair

History of the Underground Operators’ Conferences:

Year Location
1977 Broken Hill, NSW
1982 Queenstown, TAS
1985 Kalgoorlie, WA
1988 Mount Isa, QLD
1992 Ballarat, VIC
1995 Kalgoorlie, WA
1998 Townsville, QLD
2002 Townsville, QLD
2005 Perth, WA
2008 Launceston, TAS
2011 Canberra, ACT
2014 Adelaide, SA
2017 Gold Coast, QLD

If you have any interesting stories or photos from past conferences that you would like to share, please email