For over two years, CPA Group has been a provider of a range of services at Rio Tinto’s Weipa mine in Queensland.
We asked CPA Group Director – Fire & Rescue, Kevin Waterman, to tell us about the mine and our service.

Tell us about Weipa itself

Weipa is a small and very remote community with a long history that over more recent years has developed a lot of mining infrastructure and operations.

And the project itself?

It is a bauxite mine, open cut, with a major shipping facility to export the mine output.

What do we do there?

We provide 2 main services:

  • Training – Fire & Rescue and medical

We regularly send accredited trainers from our RTO, Baseline Training, to site – we have run full Cert III Public Safety (Firefighting & Emergency Operations) training for the Rio Tinto permanent firefighters and volunteer members of the site ERT.

We also provide medical training such as first aid, and we provide D&A training

  • Manpower (staffing services)

Our role is to provide support emergency response team members to coordinate the site volunteer ERT. They also provide medical emergency response and drug and alcohol testing.

They are located at Andoon, which is 18km north of Weipa township. The standard rotation is 7 days on 7 days off

What are the challenges?

Based on the 7/7 rotation, travel is a significant issue but CPA Group and all our staff understand that very remote locations and all the associated challenges are something that we face gladly as that is one of the reasons our clients trusts us and depend on our service. We have never failed to meet a staffing request, even on extremely short term notice.

The climate can be severe. It is often extremely hot in summer, well over 40 degrees at times. It is also cyclone country so on occasions our staff have had to be flexible as we have had to extend their deployment due to travel restrictions during weather events. We do not miss a shift!

And right now the wet season has resulted in torrential rainfall as part of the weather event affecting most of north Queensland at the moment.

Can you provide a highlight or two?

In addition to the way in which we have responded to the challenges above we recently assisted the client with their fire protection needs and compliance. CPA Group has a fire protection licence which allows us to service and maintain (test and tag) site fire extinguishers. There were well over 100 such items to review.

The drug and alcohol training was something we were able to assist with by thinking outside the box and saving the client a significant cost by asking one of our deployed fire & rescue team members, Darren Savage, who is an accredited D&A trainer, to extend his deployment by an additional day to conduct accredited training for client staff. This avoided an expensive trip by a third-party trainer and it was something we saw as a significant value add – all part of the service.

I should also mention that a regular visitor to site has been CPA Group founder and Executive Chairman, Harley Sparke. Remotely located clients and staff love to see our most senior executive at their sites. You can’t keep Harley away and he loves to meet clients and our team. I think this is one of the things that make CPA Group unique. I know the client loves it!