Westside Coal Mine Photography: Mine Closure
Location: Westside Coal Mine, Killingworth
Thiess is a leading construction, mining and services contractor with diverse operations throughout Australia and selected international markets. Theiss currently manage the Westside Coal Mine at Killingworth, west of Newcastle, which started in 1992 . During the last nine years of the mine’s life, it was the most productive mine in the Hunter Valley region measured by production tonnes per team member. It is permanently closing due to exhaustion of mineable reserves.
Thiess commissioned me to capture the last day at work with a a combination of group shots and activity photos for both the company and the workers to remember their days on this site. This mine consisted of only 21 staff at this stage, the fact it was a small operation (think 992s loading 777s) it seemed like a pretty tight community.
Having seen my work, they pretty much gave me free reign to shoot it the way I liked and shooting people in their work environment is one of the things i love most about my job. I used widish lenses and a combination of flash and ambient light to really enhance the textures and environment present at this site. There was also a very surreal feeling present which i think i conveyed in the images.
I photographed anyone who would be photographed inside and outside their machine, the office staff, in the office and in the mine. I got the last load of coal loaded, the entire staff on the floor of the pit and brilliant portraits of the manager with the site in the background (turned out the manager that closed the mine was the same one who opened it 20 years earlier!).
The feedback I received was all good.