JOBS EXPLOSION: Dyno Nobel Helidon’s Tina Hickmott and plant manager Paddy Wiggall. Picture: Dominic Elsome
JOBS EXPLOSION: Dyno Nobel Helidon’s Tina Hickmott and plant manager Paddy Wiggall. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Detonator manufacturing plant experiencing jobs boom

DYNO Nobel, Helidon — the only operational site within the company in Australia which carries out initiation systems assembly in the manufacturing of explosives for the mining industry — is growing quickly and the team hopes to make an impact on future employment in the region.

Plant manager Paddy Wiggall said the company usually operated with a staff of about 65, however this number had recently expanded to 109 “and is still growing”.

Mr Wiggall said Dyno Nobel — a global leader in the commercial explosives industry, whose parent company is Incitec Pivot Ltd — assembled detonators for the mining industry which were exported throughout Australia, including to the east coast, west coast and Northern Territory.

He said employment figures had risen within the company because of the rapid growth in Australia of the new “electronic” product line.

“Our traditional product line is a very mature technology, or non-electrical detonators,” Mr Wiggall said.

“In addition we run another product line which is electronic detonators, and while the old product line is remaining strong, the electronic line is in an incredible growth phase and that’s attracting new business as well.

“At the moment I would expect that in 2020 we’ll probably see 130–140 people onsite and then even more in the future.”

Mr Wiggall said the next year would provide an ideal opportunity to reach out to business forums in the Lockyer Valley region.

“If you look around the region there’s not many major employers,” he said.

“Traditionally our employment base is a mix of people from Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley.

“I think this growth can only be positive. One of the things we talk about now is recognising what our responsibility is in the community.”

He said the business would focus on maintaining its role in the industry and acting as a stable employer in the region.

Dyno Nobel's Helidon team celebrated the site’s success at a casual lunch on Friday. Picture: Dominic Elsome
Dyno Nobel's Helidon team celebrated the site’s success at a casual lunch on Friday. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Connecting with business forums, he said, would offer networking opportunities and possibilities for the development of staff.

“We’ve had great success, and our biggest success of the site is our safety record and safety culture,” Mr Wiggall said.

“We’re at 7.5 years without a recordable injury of any nature here which is a significant achievement.”

The solid safety record was due to “truly partnering with and engaging with staff” in creating ownership of their employment.

“It’s about employees taking true ownership of their individual performance,” Mr Wiggall said.

“We say, ‘It’s about what you are staying safe for, not safe from’.

“These are conversations we have every single day.”

Dyno Nobel — started more than 180 years ago by Alfred Nobel who invented dynamite — has 32 manufacturing facilities on three continents including initiation systems facilities in the United States, Australia and Mexico.

Dyno Nobel, Helidon, changed its normal operating hours of three eight-hour daily shifts on Friday to “create a space where we acknowledge the success of the site”.

Workers from the plant gathered for casual lunch where Mr Wiggall thanked them for their hard work in recent months.


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