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Robin Hopps is somewhat of an urban legend when it comes to training miners.

Having trained around two-thirds of all the OCE graduates in the Hunter, many a miner has been under his watchful eye as they work hard to further their careers. After a long career as Specialist Training Officer at Pegasus Robin is hanging up the curriculum as he moves into retirement. Before entering the wonderful world of retirement, we caught up with Robin to reflect of his long career.

“For over 26 years I’ve been training miners in the Certificate IV in Surface Coal Mining (OCE), starting way back in the 1990s,” said Robin. Robin started working with Pegasus back when the office was a little house in the heart of Singleton—a stark contrast to our head office in King Street, Newcastle.

“Things were simpler back then,” he reminisced.

Over such an impressive career, Robin has worked with many—if not all—mines in the Hunter Valley. “When it comes to local miners, if I haven’t trained them, chances are I’ve worked with them.”

When asked the highlight of his career, he didn’t skip a beat before saying “my pass rate” followed by a chuckle. Robin encouraged hard work, even among the miners considered ‘lazy’.

“The typical pass rate was probably 60 per cent, but on occasion I’ve been known to get the pass rate up to 90 per cent,” he said. For a grueling three-hour exam, made up of one hour legislation and two hours practical (plus an oral component), that’s impressive.

What’s your secret?

“We set out the course so they would pass. We put a lot of effort in as many have never done exams before, so it can be difficult,” said Robin. “We’ve been doing 12 days of preparation for the exam – the nearest anyone else comes to that is four. When you’ve done 12 days training, you are three times better off.”

Robin remembers the biggest change in his industry was the introduction of the national training unit in 2003, the result of which was a greater consistency of approach to training. The addition of women to the industry was another moment that stood out to Robin as they were having to work in a very male orientated environment.

“It was a pleasure to see them, working in the job after they’d graduated, handling the blokes. Those women had a lot of drive,” he said with a smile.

He’s also noticed graduates getting younger and younger.

“I used to train 35- to 45-year-olds, now with the boom in the industry I’m seeing candidates as young as 24. Back in the day the old blokes left school at 15 to go to work and they didn’t get around to enrolling in a course like this until much later, but not anymore.”

As Pegasus farewells one of its longest standing employees, an absolute master of mining, we asked what’s next?

“Making happy memories with the grandkids”, he said with a sparkle in his eyes.

It’s been an absolute honour having Robin as part of the Pegasus training team, we wish him well in all that he does in retirement.

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