Gunnedah’s Murray O’Keefe is “chuffed” after being chosen to receive the NSW Mining Young Achiever Award.
The Gunnedah Shire councillor and Whitehaven Coal employee was announced as the winner at the NSW Mining Industry and Suppliers’ Awards at NSW Parliament House earlier this month.
One of two finalists in the Young Achiever category, the 29-year-old said he knew he’d been nominated by Whitehaven but didn’t expect to become a finalist let alone a winner.
“The mining industry employed a lot of people who are doing fantastic things and I was pretty chuffed to get nominated,” he said.
“The nomination pool is quite extensive.”
The Young Achiever Award recognises an inspirational young professional aged 18-35, who is building a successful career in mining.
Murray said he was excited to take to the stage to accept the award.
“It’s a big recognition and quite an honour to be singled out from such a large industry against industry professionals from a variety of backgrounds,” he said.
Murray is a mining superintendent at Maules Creek but started out as an open cut examiner. He grew up in Muswellbrook and Aberdeen and moved to Gunnedah in 2014 to work with Whitehaven.
“More than anything it means a lot that the team at Maules Creek wanted to nominate me for the award. That my work was valued enough to warrant the recognition that the nomination alone provided,” he said.
Murray said he received support from not only the team at Maules Creek, but also his “better half”, Sairz.
“Like I said on the night, none of my energy or focus towards anything in life would be possible without the love and support of Sairz,” he said.
Murray said around 450 people attended the awards dinner, including MP’s such as Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson.
Now that the glitz of the evening has faded, Murray said it’s “business as usual”.
“It's a nice pat on the back and a signal that I’m on the right track,” he said.
Whitehaven Coal chief executive officer and managing director, Paul Flynn, said Murray was to be congratulated for his achievements.