Back to Resourceful July 2021

Our people: After 44 years of service, EHM returns Neville Deans home safely to his family

Queensland Metals longstanding employee, Ernest Henry Mining’s Maintenance Planner Neville Deans, is preparing to retire after more than four decades of service.

Neville is calling time after 44 years working in the north-west, having worked at Mount Isa Mines (MIM) for 20 years and at Ernest Henry Mining (EHM) for the past 24 years.

A proud Queenslander, Neville was born in Gympie and at the age of eight moved with his family to Mount Isa where his father took up a job as an underground diamond driller at MIM.

In those days, Neville says he did what every kid did back then – he went to school and then got an apprenticeship.

“I was pretty keen to earn money after school so when I finished grade 10 I didn’t have senior in my sights. I was out to earn a quid,” says Neville.

He started his Fitter and Turner apprenticeship in 1976 at Mount Isa Mines and over the years undertook a variety of jobs from tradesman, Maintenance Supervisor and Shutdown Coordinator to his current role as a Maintenance Planner at the EHM Copper Concentrator.

Neville Deans cutting his celebratory retirement cake.
One of the many large plant components (a massive pump) that Neville helped maintain at EHM.

In his role as Maintenance Planner he’s responsible for managing, resourcing and scheduling short-term maintenance on plant at the Concentrator.

This involves engaging with a range of stakeholders across different areas of the business as well as external contracting companies to meticulously plan and organise plant maintenance.

“Looking at the work, we have to assess what labour resources we have and consult with relevant Supervisors and Superintendents across the plant, and put a plan together in terms of what we’re going to do and what work we’re going to execute.”

When he came across to EHM in 1997, Neville says the Concentrator was still being commissioned and they were yet to turn the grinding mills.

“I was here for Shut Down number one and Shut Down 99 is now coming up,” says Neville.

“I just won’t get the ton. That’s okay, Bradman’s average wasn’t 100 either,” he says with a smile.

EHM Maintenance Planner Neville Deans and Copper Concentrator Manager Shane Morrissey.

Over his extensive career, Neville has been privy to many trends in the mining and resources industry, but perhaps the most important is the sector’s commitment to safety.

“There was safety in the early days but it wasn’t enforced like it is now,” says Neville.

“And that’s for good reason. Safety is about looking after people. No one wants to see anybody get hurt badly or worse.”

“It really is the people around you that make the difference. I’ve always been a big believer that the biggest asset is the people around you. You’ve got to look after them.”

EHM Concentrator Manager, Shane Morrissey, says Neville has been a hardworking and strong performing employee who quietly went about his job.

“You don’t have too many employees with such longevity, dedication and service to one company.”

The airbrushed hard hat presented to Neville showing a few of his favourite things.

“Neville always had a great attitude to work and we’re extremely thankful for him being part of our team over the years.”

When asked if he there was ever a high point in his career, Neville quickly answers no.

“I haven’t really had a standout moment but perhaps lots of little ones. When you do something and it works – that’s pretty rewarding in itself,” Neville says.

“After Mount Isa Mines, I was only coming to EHM for five years. It’s been nearly 25 years – it’s been a good place so you stay with it.”

“Mining has been good to me. It’s in the generations – Dad was an underground miner. Then there’s me and now my son, Ben Deans, who’s a Jumbo Operator underground at EHM, so that’s three generations.”

While news of Neville’s impending retirement is sad news for the team at EHM, as a thank you for his years of service, he was presented with an airbrushed hard hat with a few of his favourite things – you can tell he’s a big fan of fishing, the Sydney Roosters NRL team and collecting Bundaberg Rum.

Neville plans to concentrate on a few of those favourite things in retirement as well as spending more time with his family and grandchildren.