Loss of an AusIMM stalwart and Honorary Fellow – David Pollard

  • By Janine Herzig FAusIMM(CP)

No one ever knows the full story of another’s life – all the moments and adventures which comprise our life’s journeys. What we can do is remember with affection the times when we have walked the same road together – whether that time was long or short, David’s memory will live on.

David in 2013.

It was with great sadness and loss, but also honour, that I was able to speak at David’s funeral service on 25 August 2018 about some of his many professional achievements and his significant involvement in the AusIMM.

I first met David about 15 years ago, shortly after relocating to Adelaide and becoming involved in the local AusIMM Branch Committee. In the early days we had many a passionate debate and some differing opinions, only to find out over the ensuing years that we had a great deal in common and from these shared beliefs and values a great friendship developed alongside our professional relationship.

David Martin Pollard was born in Ballarat in January 1945, a son to Jean and Syd and younger brother to Geoffrey. David was a member of the AusIMM for 58 years, having joined in April 1961 as a student in the first year of his Diploma at the Ballarat School of Mines and Industry.

He always used to tell me that he was the youngest person to ever join the AusIMM and I thought he was joking but, it would appear that at the age of 16, this is absolutely true.

Whilst he was working at the Port Kembla Steelworks it was suggested to David that he convert his diploma to a degree.

His move to Melbourne University proved to be a huge milestone in his life both personally and professionally. He graduated from the University of Melbourne with a BSc (Hons) in 1969 where he lived on campus at Ormond College and was involved in organising many undergrad activities such as social nights.

It was also at Melbourne University that he met Judith. They were married in 1974 (for 44 years in total), later becoming a family in their own right with the arrival of their children Kathryn and Stephen.

David lectured metallurgy for 14 years at the University of Melbourne until the department was closed and in 1982 he accepted a post as a lecturer in metallurgy at the South Australian Institute of Technology (SAIT). I have heard many reflections on this time at SAIT, and particularly how patient David was in teaching primary metallurgy to the ‘dumb’ mining engineers – their words not mine! Seven years later David left SAIT and worked for the Australian Mineral Foundation (AMF) until 2001.

During this time, David relocated his mother from Ballarat to Adelaide and he was a daily visitor both at her own home and later when she needed the extra support within residential care. He was Education Manager for AMF from 1988 until 2001 where he greatly expanded the scope of the professional development program.

David then established himself as a consultant and set up Salamander Consulting, providing professional development opportunities to effectively address an emerging gap in the field. Similarly, David never lost his enthusiasm for mentoring students and offered willing support.

He chaired the AusIMM Adelaide Branch in 1988 for a period soon after he and Judith relocated here and then again in 2007 and 2008, reluctantly resigning from the Committee in 2015. He was a member of the AusIMM’s Education and Accreditation Committee from 1993 until 2007, as well as the South Australian Chamber of Mines education committee and served on the Graduate Work Readiness Taskforce from 2014-2015.

David spent many years championing the project to publish a revised and updated edition of AusIMM’s Monograph 19 – Australasian Mining and Metallurgy (The Sir Maurice Mawby Memorial Volumes). This revised publication was launched with great success in 2013 as Monograph 28 – Australasian Mining and Metallurgical Operating Practices.

Notably, David was part of the AusIMM Metallurgical Society (MetSoc) for 11 years, chairing it from 2008 to 2013.

He was elevated to Fellow in 2008 and, in 2011, was further recognised as an Honorary Fellow – the most esteemed grade within the Institute.

There are some common themes here – while David took leading roles in many aspects of the industry and the Institute, he was particularly active in, and passionate about, the education and development of students and the advancement of knowledge and skills of his fellow minerals industry professionals. Alongside Keith Yates, David brought into being the joint AusIMM Adelaide Branch/Playford Trust Minerals Industry Scholarships in 2008.  Through David’s vision and passion, the Branch has now awarded 23 such scholarships to worthy South Australian students.

As if all of this were not enough, one of David’s biggest achievements and contributions was to bring the Metallurgical Plant Design (MetPlant) conference series to the AusIMM when AMF closed, and he convened this successful series with his long-term friend Geoff Dunlop from 2002 to 2015.

Geoff Dunlop and David Pollard – December 2017.

In 2016, with his health and that of Geoff’s failing, David approached me to discuss handing over the reigns of MetPlant. I was honored to accept and thought we would have more time to collaborate on this together. We convened a very successful 2017 event together and I think David was pleased with the transition.

At MetPlant 2017, we also launched AusIMM Spectrum 23 – We are Metallurgists, Not Magicians, a project initially undertaken by David and Geoff Dunlop, and I was able to help fast-track the editing, sponsorship and production over 2016-17 to ensure we could launch it in September 2017.

David and Janine Herzig – Proud Editors of Spectrum 23 – September 2017.

It was truly a labour of love with David, Geoff and myself having a strong shared belief that is was important to have a hard copy as well as electronic. We worked hard to gain industry support to cover the printing costs and were very proud of the result which we hope will be a timeless resource for practising metallurgists and processing plant designers. I am so thankful that I could assist in the realisation of this goal and David and I had a lot of fun exploring imagery for the ‘Magical’ component on the front cover image.

David and Judith Pollard at MetPlant 2017.

David’s family life was as important to him as his professional life. He enjoyed time in his home, his kitchen and his garden. In later years he became a very proud grandad to Ruby, Suzy, Toby and Tommy. He and Judith travelled extensively throughout the years, but they often arranged trips to include visits to Steve both overseas and in Melbourne when Steve and Kate made their home there.

At the service, a number of significant items were placed in tribute on his casket – tangible reminders of some of the many roles he treasured in life from cook to gardener, handyman to wine connoisseur, family man to author.

David will be sorely missed.  He remained optimistic and resilient until the very end.

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