April 2018

The AusIMM Bulletin: the last 25 years

  • By Dr Christopher J Davey MAusIMM, Director, Australian Institute of Archaeology

Since being first published nearly 80 years ago, the AusIMM Bulletin has been a reflection of the resources industry and its professionals

In his inaugural Presidential editorial in the February 2017 AusIMM Bulletin, Colin Moorhead stressed the need for resource industry professionals to engage with others in the industry and ‘to understand the needs of mining professionals, the global mining industry and the capital markets upon which it depends, but also to remember where we came from.’ While the context of the comment was broad, it captures the current role of the Bulletin.

The Bulletin began on 3 January 1939 as an attachment to the AusIMM Proceedings and, according to its introductory comment, it was to ‘include information of interest to members, such as notices of meetings, movements of members and titles of articles appearing monthly in mining and metallurgical journals, and comments thereon.’ In the following 60 years the Bulletin became a stand-alone publication that essentially fulfilled this original mandate, and some of the changes to the magazine in the past 25 years have reflected the modernisation of the industry and its professionals.

While many industries can point to something monumental that they have created, the resource industry by contrast is knowledge-based and relatively ephemeral. Resource industry professionals move from mine to mine with their friendships and know-how, acting as agents of a society that benefits from the material generated from our industry’s output. Recognition of achievements and milestones in news items is therefore important – as are the obituaries that are found in each edition. The hardcopy magazine provides an enduring testament to the itinerant professions represented by the AusIMM. The Bulletin is therefore an essential source for those interested in the history of the AusIMM or the Australasian resources industry.

The last 25 years

Throughout the last 25 years the Bulletin has promoted the community of resource industry professionals by reporting on AusIMM news and events, conferences, Congresses, branch activities and learning opportunities. It has been one conduit through which many have kept in touch with their colleagues and the AusIMM.

The space devoted to personal items has reduced progressively during the period. In 1993 one was able to monitor the movements of colleagues through the columns for change of address, personal news and new members, but these had all disappeared by 2000. The advent of the internet made hard copy for such matters less important and the growth of social media has provided other means for members to keep in touch.

Features

The subjects addressed by features in the Bulletin have been representative of the issues facing the industry and its professionals at the time. Virtually every aspect of the industry has made an appearance in the Bulletin at some point, including geology and exploration, ore reserve assessment, technology, finance, taxation, environment, education, management, professional ethics, occupational health and safety, regulation, commodities and world markets. Many Bulletin articles have been international in scope and during the 1990s, experiences in Africa and Asia were often reported. More recently China has featured.

One of the recurring topics during the 1990s was the concept of Native Title. These papers were written by people who were active in the subject area and not necessarily associated with the resources industry, and the papers themselves were written by way of information rather than advocacy.

Gold was another subject that recurred in the 1990s as the industry was considered unable to respond to world demand, and in this period a series of papers reported on gold exploration and development. Specific commodities and minerals featured have also included coal, diamonds, iron ore, mineral sands, uranium and so on. Environmental topics have also been regularly covered.

The AusIMM’s pivotal role in ore reserve assessment and the decisions of the Joint Ore Reserves Committee have been regularly reported, and copies of codes have sometimes been circulated with the Bulletin.

The resource industry has always been in the vanguard of technological developments. A section on computers in mining (or similar) has featured regularly in the magazine. An August 1998 article by K C Wong, ‘Flying Autonomous Remote Sensing Project’, drew attention to a federal government initiative and research in Australia and elsewhere into drone technology. There have also been numerous articles on automation.

The AusIMM and its members were most hospitable and provided me with invaluable activities as I studied mining and began employment in the resource industry during the 1960s. The Bulletin continues that perspective by giving a prominent place to student activities, awards, and notices of grants and opportunities. In this vein, education is a theme that may be traced in many articles.

In recent years there have been many pieces discussing career options in the industry, and the role of women has been a major focus since 2000, along with other articles exploring diversity.

History

Finally, we must remember where we have come from. Cicero said that those who do not know their past remain children. Heritage of the industry and its people has had a place in the Bulletin throughout the last 25 years. Since 2010 the Bulletin has carried a Heritage section, which often reprints significant speeches or articles from the past that remind us of the challenges faced by our predecessors. These help us to see ourselves by way of contrast and can provide inspiration.

Conclusion

December 2017 saw the relaunch of the Bulletin. It has been redesigned in a more elegant and contemporary quarto format with a matte finish, a new logo/masthead, and features designed to make it easier to read, including a two-column format and a sans-serif font. The product aims to gain a readership outside the core AusIMM membership, and to this end, to feature articles of interest for all professionals who work in the resources sector, with a particular focus on leadership and the future of the industry.

An online version of the Bulletin has been available to members since 2012.

If this article identifies anything, it is that the Bulletin is a valuable resource and it would be beneficial if its entire archives were available in a searchable database. At a time when public discourse is in danger of becoming increasingly superficial, the Bulletin remains a valuable source for industry discussion.

Image: Alix Kreil/Shutterstock.com.

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