Stockton Alliance’s operator trainee program has produced its first “graduates” with four local people being offered permanent truck operator positions at the open-pit coal mine near Westport, New Zealand. At present there are 26 trainees at various stages of the program. It has been running since June, taking on two new trainees every fortnight. The program aims are to develop truck operators, provide jobs for local people, increase staff retention and other employees’ engagement in the project and achieve mining qualifications through EXITO. The next intake will be in February. After receiving their site and health and safety inductions, trainees spend the first two months working around the site, familiarising themselves with the operations and various roles. This work can include maintenance of roadside markings and signage, and time with the maintenance teams, both in the workshops and in the field, to understand the impact operators have on their equipment and what is involved in keeping a mining fleet in top order. Other elements of the traineeship cover Stockton Alliance’s standards, safety procedures and the skills needed to be a safe and efficient operator. They spend time alongside experienced operators in CAT 777 dump trucks before starting four to eight weeks of driver training, with some dayshift crew work. Weekly reviews by work area supervisors monitor trainees’ development in areas like skill development, work and safety performance and communication. Formal reviews are done after three months and as part of the final assessment. Stockton mine, operated by Stockton Alliance, is Solid Energy’s most valuable operational coal mining asset, delivering high-quality steelmaking coal for export.