A Cadia Valley Operations Open Day attracted a whole class of TAFE NSW students from Lightening Ridge. The excursions was hastily organised when their teacher, Helen Strik, mentioned the open day a week before.
The students, mostly Aboriginal, are studying Laboratory Operations with the view to filling a need for people to work in mineral laboratories. TAFE NSW - Western Institute consulted with the Lightening Ridge community last year and the identified need for this course. Special funding was sought and Laboratory Teacher, Helen Strik, has been travelling to Lightening Ridge at weekends to deliver the training using the Laboratory classroom at the Central School.
The enthusiasm of the students to make the trip to Orange was such that they organised a bus themselves, in the meantime Neil Milton, of NSW Western Institute, sought help to fund their accommodation in Orange during the weekend. This was generously provided by Manildra Flour Mills
John Chilcott, Human Resources & Safety Manager for Manildra Flour Mills said, "It was our pleasure to sponsor the accommodation of this group. Manildra Flour Mills has a strong commitment to the training and advancement of Aboriginal people and to help this group complements our Manildra Young Aboriginal Cadetship program which will be implemented soon"
During weekend visit, the students were able to visit Cadia Valley Operations, Manildra Flour Mill and ALS Laboratories in Orange and the Department of Primary Industries. At ALS they saw the processes involved in testing of mineral samples. These tests involved a Fire Assay Test and a chemical analysis separating gold from a sample. The Cadia Mine tour allowed students to gain an understanding of the scope of the operations. After the Cadia tour they looked over the mining display at the Forest Road facilities of Department of Primary Industries.
The group was able to spend time at the Manildra Flour Mill, the largest flour mill in the southern hemisphere, allowing them to see the flour milling and packing process as well as the mill's laboratory testing processes.
Loretta Schuler, one of the students and a member of the local Aboriginal Lands Council in Lightning Ridge is a well respected member of the Yaalaarai people. After the industry visits she said, "This is a wonderful opportunity for people who live in a remote locality to see what is happening in other parts of the state."
"It has enabled the younger members of our community to gain skills that can help with their education. We are so grateful for this opportunity. My wish now is for the funding to be made available for the additional training to allow our students to gain the full qualification."
Shane Randall, also from Lightning Ridge who arranged the excursion in Lightning Ridge said, "It is like a dream come true, I can't believe that a comment one weekend can come true the next weekend. It is something we will never forget. The generosity of the Manildra Flour Mill is unreal. Thanks to everyone involved with this"