Employee spotlight: Scott shares his story of 10 years with Stanwell

23 June 2020

Mining Tenement and Planning Advisor, Scott Cullen, joined Stanwell as a fresh-faced graduate all the way back in 2009 and late last year reached 10 the year milestone with Stanwell.

We caught up with Scott to learn more about his career journey, what he’s learned from a decade at Stanwell, and career achievements that he’s proud of so far.

Scott’s role at Stanwell as a town planner is multi-faceted and involves working with many people from across Stanwell and the sector as a whole.

“My role is to seek a variety of regulatory approvals from local, state and federal regulators for the development of new assets and the upgrades and expansions required to continually run our operational sites in a safe, efficient and economic manner.

“I also maintain and protect Stanwell’s development rights, heritage nominations and zonings via planning scheme amendments and providing land tenure and native title advice,” he said.

“As the Authorised Holder Representative to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, I also manage compliance and optimisation of our mining and mineral exploration tenement portfolio. Finally, I oversee our Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and am lucky enough to pursue my enthusiasm for cartography, mapping and surveying.”

“A typical day involves a commute to the office on the pushbike and is filled with project team meetings, calls and meetings with regulators and stakeholders, preparing applications, lodging reports, and drinking too much coffee.

“I may also be guilty of sharing some awful puns with my teammates!” he jokes.

Scott’s career at Stanwell began after receiving a bit of extra motivation from one of his lecturers while studying at University of Queensland.

“In my last year of study, besides enjoying the last few years of having a full head of hair, I was studying and working as a student town planner and surveyor’s chainman for a development consultancy on large residential subdivisions, civil works and commercial projects,” said Scott.

A fresh-faced Scott conducting a boundary fence check at Mount Ronald, Millstream

“An environmental law lecturer encouraged me to take a shot at the Stanwell Graduate Program in pursuit of more complex industrial project experience and the rest is history!”

In those 10 years, Scott has seen firsthand how quickly things change and improve in the industry. We asked him what some of the biggest changes have been since he started with Stanwell.

“Since starting as a graduate in 2009, I’ve enjoyed observing and contributing to the evolution of our values and culture and the difference it can make to our workplaces. The maturation of how we plan, communicate, manage and engage with our local community and government stakeholders has also been a highlight,” he said.

“Technology adoption has certainly recently accelerated – for myself, that has involved moving from 2D mapping in basic software to generating three dimensional centimetre accurate models of our sites’ topography and infrastructure across vast areas in powerful modelling software.

“Experiencing three Government Owned Corporation generator restructures and various government mandates, I’ve learned how flexible, resilient and understanding our people can be in times of uncertainty.”

With 10 years under his belt, Scott believes one of the key learnings when it comes to performing well in his role is preparation, compromise and understanding the people you work with.

“Listening, patience, clear communication, preparation for your tasks at hand and reasonable compromise always achieve the best outcomes with our regulators and stakeholders,” he said.

“Another thing I’ve learned is that a good map is worth 1,000 words – its power to visually communicate complex situations cannot be understated for the communities we operate in and the regulators that govern how we run our sites.

“Finally, always trust a surveyor’s peg, never trust a GPS and be wary of an engineer’s first design!”

Scott on a recent visit to Meandu Mine.

But what is Scott most proud of when it comes to the many large-scale projects he has worked on during his decade with Stanwell?

“There are a couple of projects that come to mind. I’ve worked on large exploration programs and multiple large-scale expansions to the surface area of Meandu Mine into areas of complex regulatory regimes that underpin state forests, commercial timber plantation licences, as well as closing public roads, constructing and opening diversion roads across multiple council jurisdictions,” he said.

“I’m proud to have contributed to extending the lifespan of both the Tarong power stations and Meandu Mine while learning from an experienced and diverse team.

“I’ve also worked on a number of business development initiatives including concentrated solar thermal, photovoltaics, wind, biomass, pumped hydro and gas peaking projects over the years which didn’t quite make it to fruition but provided valuable learning opportunities.”

The future has a lot of exciting projects in store for Scott and is sure to keep him busy!

“In the future I’m looking forward to seeking approvals for the 187 hectare King 2 East extension for Meandu Mine, which will secure the long term fuel supply for the Tarong power stations from 2025 to 2037.

“I anticipate some valuable learning opportunities in the emerging green hydrogen production space and am excited about delivering a 10MW trial plant at Stanwell Power Station. The potential scale up and export of this clean fuel has great potential for Stanwell and Central Queensland industry.

“In the longer term there will be a renewed focus on planning for post mining and power generation land uses with regulators and local communities.”

It looks like a busy few years coming up for Scott and we’d like to thank him for the incredible work he has done so far!