SEVERAL Gunnedah businesses have played vital roles in major upgrade works at Whitehaven Coal's Tarrawonga open-cut coal mine.
Seven businesses helped carry out a variety of works to the $126 million project including; road upgrades, construction of a new office building and upgrade works to the coal handling plant.
The upgrade will support the mine's ramp-up to its newly approved production rate of three million tonnes per annum.
Many Fabrication and Engineering's Glenn Many said projects such as this had helped his company weather the economic impacts caused by the region's drought.
"Unfortunately over the last 18 months or so, we've seen the agricultural side of the company take a huge hit," Mr Many said.
"We've had to diversify and we've been able to adapt to make up the shortfall from agriculture.
"We've got about 36 employees and six apprentices, ranging from first to fourth year, and projects like this have helped keep the company afloat.
"We haven't laid anyone off - in fact we've been able to employ people who live locally, including farming people from around the area.
"The reality is if we weren't doing these types of projects, we wouldn't be around."
Stripes Engineering general manager Andrew Semmler echoed Mr Many's sentiments, saying the consistent work Whitehaven offered his company was crucial for the local economy.
"We have around 85 employees, about 95 per cent of whom live locally," Mr Semmler said.
"The consistency of work with Whitehaven, including the Tarrawonga upgrade, has allowed us to sustain our employee base.
"The ongoing support gives us the confidence to engage new apprentices each year."
Tarrawonga operations manager John Hamson said supporting local business was a top priority for his team.
"We're pleased to partner with local businesses, first and foremost because they provide quality services and solutions," Mr Hamson said.
"This upgrade project means we can not only improve productivity and reliability when it comes to getting coal out of the ground, but importantly, we have better facilities for our teams across both operations and maintenance.
"Of course a project of this scale also means we're able to keep this investment in our local area, which is particularly important during this drought period."
Businesses involved in the upgrade works:
- Stripes Engineering
- Many Fabrication & Engineering
- PCC Electrical
- Pettona Services
- Specialised Civil Services
- GBP Cranes