EXCLUSIVE

Departing BHP Mt Arthur Coal general manager David Boshoff says future looks bright for Muswellbrook mine

Departing BHP Mt Arthur Coal general manager David Boshoff

Departing BHP Mt Arthur Coal general manager David Boshoff

BHP Mt Arthur Coal general manager David Boshoff dismissed claims he'd been "pushed" from his role, declaring it was time for a new challenge.

Following three years at Muswellbrook, Mr Boshoff tendered his resignation this week to take on a project director's position at the controversial Adani Carmichael mine and rail venture in Queensland.

He will wrap things up at the Upper Hunter site on November 15.

Talk circulated around town the move wasn't on his terms, but Mr Boshoff disagreed wholeheartedly.

"Absolutely not," he stated.

"It's just an opportunity came along [at Adani] that I couldn't pass up.

"I have total respect for the leaders in this company (BHP); they actually asked me to stay on.

"Hearing something like that, I'll admit, makes you feel good.

"However, after weighing up all the facets, I decided to resign.

"From a career perspective, it's a good promotion for me.

"The project director's position will lead into the chief operating officer's role.

"That's a definite step up."

Earlier this month, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) took aim at BHP over its hiring practices, including numerous employment responsibilities at Mt Arthur Coal.

The organisation called out the mining giant for "dishonesty" by offering "BHP jobs" to employees through shelf companies established for a dollar in 2018.

The CFMEU also asserted workers hired to work on the sites - by Operations Services - wore BHP uniforms, performed the same tasks as their BHP employees, but were paid 40 per cent less.

Mr Boshoff said that advertising campaign, while disappointing, had no bearing on his decision to leave either.

"Not at all," he explained.

"A lot of news out there is completely false.

"Unfortunately, not everyone knows the ins and outs of Operations Services.

"There are now more opportunities for permanent full-time jobs, which is what this initiative provides."

Quite simply, we're here to stay.

David Boshoff

After taking over the reins from Xavier Wagner in 2016, Mr Boshoff has been highly-identifiable within the local landscape.

He believed that aspect of his role, especially as general manager, was "really important".

"I'm extremely passionate about being involved in the community," he said.

"Whether it's attending the Hunter Soap Box Derby in Muswellbrook or the Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair at Denman, I've had a great time here.

"I loved the wood-chopping [at Denman].

"And, after talking to the guys, I even went out and bought an axe," he added with a laugh.

"I've certainly enjoyed my time at Mt Arthur Coal.

"I have worked with some amazing people - people who are passionate about what they do and their community.

"It's such a joy to work with them.

"I've also relished working with key leaders in the town.

"The Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry do an outstanding job; so, too, do the organisers behind the Vinnies Sleepout at the showground.

"I'll miss things like that and the people.

"That's why this move is bittersweet for me and my wife.

"I'm sad to go but looking forward to what lies ahead."

Simon Downes, Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Mike Kelly, BHP Mt Arthur Coal general manager David Boshoff and Lorraine Skinner at the launch of the Local Buying Foundation

Simon Downes, Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Mike Kelly, BHP Mt Arthur Coal general manager David Boshoff and Lorraine Skinner at the launch of the Local Buying Foundation

Mr Boshoff described launching the NSW Local Buying Foundation (in 2017) and the recent Mt Arthur Coal Farmer Employment Program as two of his proudest initiatives.

"I believe the Local Buying Foundation has helped the community - throughout the Upper Hunter," he told the Chronicle.

"It's not only improving the quality of service, but providing financial support for local and regional business development and capacity building programs.

"BHP makes a small monetary contribution [to the foundation] for every transaction processed through the Local Buying Program.

"A committee then allocates the funding to the appropriate projects.

"I really enjoyed playing a role in setting it up.

"And, it's still running well today.

"The Mt Arthur Coal Farmer Employment Program, on the other hand, offers flexible work opportunities for those doing it tough on the land.

"A lot of the team [here] are either former farmers, or their families are involved in farming, so we feel something like this can make a real impact.

"Of course, it assists us as well.

"Most farmers have a really good work ethic.

"But, if the community - and local residents - can benefit, that's a win-win situation for everyone.

"That was cool to be a part of [the process], too."

While the industry is currently plagued by environmental and rehab concerns, casualisation and other issues, Mr Boshoff is confident Mt Arthur Coal has a strong future at Muswellbrook.

"It's an amazing mine - and an amazing deposit," he said.

"That should give the workers and the community a lot of confidence moving forward.

"We try to contribute [to the local area] any way we can.

"And, I see that continuing a long time into the future.

"Quite simply, we're here to stay."

BHP stated on Monday Mr Boshoff's replacement would be the subject of a further announcement.