Highlights
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Value creation through exploration in BHP
Examining how BHP is leveraging expertise and knowledge between minerals exploration, petroleum exploration and the recently established Geoscience Centre of Excellence A case for discovery BHP views exploration as a critical enabler to the value growth of the company. As noted by CEO Andrew Mackenzie at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2016 Global Metals, Mining and Steel Conference, exploration is one of the company’s six identified steps to add value. Exploration will grow and sustain Read More
June 2017
Can connected mining be used to avert the next mining crash?
How companies can navigate the difficult phases of the mining cycle and create sustainable profitability 'Connected mining’ is gaining momentum in the mining industry. Many of the major players are either implementing it, or talking about it. It sounds simple, but finding a sustainable and systematic way of connecting the face to the market and responding appropriately has proven elusive to many. Successfully implementing connected mining could represent a revolution in the way a mining Read More
June 2017
Innovation: State of Play – iron ore insights
This is an excerpt from a paper to be presented at Iron Ore 2017, which will be held in Perth from 24-26 July. Visit the Iron Ore 2017 website for more details on the conference program and registration. Innovation: State of Play was initiated three years ago by VCI in partnership with the University of Western Australia. The ambition was to create a ‘think tank’ type platform to support industry discussion on performance in terms of innovation at a strategic level, what needs to change Read More
June 2017
Iron ore classification and the future of resource development
The AusIMM and CSIRO are co-hosting the Iron Ore 2017 conference, which is being held in Perth from 24-26 July. Visit the Iron Ore 2017 website for more details on the conference program and registration. The ability to accurately predict the downstream processing performance of any given orebody is crucial for resource evaluation, development decision-making, and maximising output. However, without an ore textural classification scheme and an appropriately characterised resource, Read More
tcly/Shutterstock.com.
June 2017
Keeping pace with the cycle – from ‘on plan’ construction to ‘efficient’ production
Instilling the skills and operational mindset to meet the new production-focused environment in the mining industry Switching gears through the mining super cycle requires new thinking and skills As mining companies move from the construction phase to the production phase of the commodity super cycle, management teams must ensure their organisations’ skills and focus are geared toward delivering the right outcomes. From 2003 to 2015, most mining companies focused on the expansion of Read More
June 2017
President’s Editorial: Embedding inclusion in our work practices
Following a period of strong economic headwinds, there are signs that the mining industry may be returning to a period of growth. According to employment website SEEK, the number of mining and resources roles advertised in the three months to April is 70 per cent higher than the same period in 2016. IPOs are also up on the previous year, and EY has reported a rebound in purchases of heavy mining equipment. As cautious optimism returns to our industry, there will likewise be greater Read More
June 2017
How miners can improve water management
Water management is one of the most significant issues facing mining companies – what is the best approach to ensure sustainable and efficient operations? Contemporary water management is much more than simply complying with regulatory requirements. Miners need to take a new approach based on sustainable water management practices to improve efficiency and earn a social licence to operate. The need for this is readily apparent, when considering that water security is one of the Read More
WIMnet Conference Grant recipient report – Minesafe International Conference 2017
Early in May I had the opportunity to attend the Minesafe International 2017 conference in Perth, Western Australia. [caption id="attachment_10843" align="alignleft" width="246"] Carole James.[/caption] The conference is designed to ensure that health and safety within the minerals industry remains a key component of the industry, with an ever-increasing position of awareness. I was honoured to receive an AusIMM Women in Mining Network (AusIMM WIMnet) Award to enable my attendance at Read More
April 2017
Lessons from history for miners
Efficiency, excellence and growth – challenges of the evolving demands of the mining cycle Miners face two challenges that, when combined, make them unique against other businesses: uncontrollable revenue volatility over time due to commodity price fluctuation finite lives of mining assets. As a result, there is potential for substantial swings in the value of a mining business and, consequently, there is typically greater volatility for miners’ share prices than for companies Read More
April 2017
The mining industry disrupted
How ‘industry 4.0’ will fundamentally change the global mining industry I would like to challenge you to suspend your disbelief and come on a journey to explore what might be possible for a disrupted mining industry. To explore a world where we will see the operating cost of producing metals halve, capital intensity halve, safety approaching the zero harm goal that the industry strives for and all this with a drastically reduced environmental footprint while delivering enhanced social Read More
April 2017
Reflections on professional ethics
It is vital to understand your obligations as a professional, both informally as personal moral codes and as part of formalised codes of ethics Professional ethics has been an interest of mine throughout my career, beginning with my first job as a geologist with the US Securities and Exchange Commission where the investigation of mining and oil and gas frauds was one of my duties. The American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) focuses on professional issues, including ethics, Read More
April 2017
Joanne Farrell discusses health and safety best practice in the minerals industry
Joanne Farrell is Group Executive Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) and Managing Director Australia at Rio Tinto, and was a keynote speaker at the Minesafe International 2017 conference. The AusIMM Bulletin asked Joanne for her views on key issues and best practice relating to health and safety in the minerals industry. What do you see as the key issues that the industry needs to address from a health and safety perspective? Health and safety management in the mining industry has Read More
April 2017
Country Snapshot: Mining in Mongolia
Despite some progress, bureaucratic obstacles continue to prevent further development of Mongolia’s significant mineral resources An underdeveloped minerals sector with significant potential Mongolia is a mineral-rich country in Central Asia that boasts significant proven deposits of gold, copper, iron ore and coal. As of January 2010, 1130 mineral deposits and 7668 mineral occurrences encompassing 80 different commodities had been discovered and recorded in Mongolia. These deposits Read More
April 2017
Managing major emergencies in coalmines
A discussion of emergency management systems in relation to underground coalmines This is an excerpt from a paper that was presented at Minesafe International 2017, which was held in Perth from 1-2 May.  Underground coalmine emergencies can be complex events that are difficult to analyse and respond to in a timely manner. This is due to the isolated environment in which they may occur, their potentially violent nature that may result in damage to mine infrastructure and installed Read More
April 2017
Risk – why do people do what they do?
If company leaders are to better understand and manage risk, a systematic shift in mindset is required to dissolve the traditionally procedural mindset of mining engineers Firstly, I need to declare that I am not an academic. Nor have I studied any of the social sciences or human behavioral fields such as psychology. Nor have I gone down the MBA route. I am a dyed-in-the-wool mining engineer with a master’s degree in engineering science. But what I do have, and what I want to share, is Read More
Improving productivity by integrating software developers into resource engineering
The use of in-house software developers in the simplification, standardisation and systematisation of processes across mine planning, geotechnical engineering, hydrology and closure planning In 2011, the mining industry was facing challenges brought on by a shortage of capable and experienced mining engineers. To gain an advantage in this environment, the BHP Billiton Iron Ore Resource Engineering Department employed and integrated a group of data professionals with the intent to Read More
February 2017
Mining automation and shared value – thinking through the new conundrum
Transformations in mining techniques have the potential to change the way mining companies maintain their social licence to operate In the coming years, automation will change the face of the mining industry. One of the biggest impacts is that we will see far fewer faces in mines. Technologies such as driverless trucks, autonomous long-distance haul trains, automated drilling and boring systems and semi-autonomous crushers are being steadily rolled out in new mining investments and are Read More
February 2017
Disruptive technologies – adopt at your own risk, ignore at your peril
Learning how to effectively interpret high volumes of data can significantly improve decision-making and efficiency In today’s mining environment, the volume of data made available to us when making decisions eclipses what we have historically had access to. This data is borne through a technology revolution that has made mobile devices and sensors more powerful and available than ever before. Devices are now routinely in place on trucks, excavators, other fixed and mobile equipment and Read More
February 2017
Data management – establishing good practice
Data gathering and analysis is not an end in itself, but rather should help to maintain a stable and efficient operation Technology allows us to continuously measure things to ever-increasing levels of accuracy and gather massive amounts of data in real time. However, if the data doesn’t support and inform discussions that lead to achieving a good plan and improvements in what we are doing, gathering the data becomes an exercise in futility. Context Over the last 30 years, the data Read More
February 2017
Innovation in mineral processing – distinguished past and uncertain future
This article is an extract from the 2016 AusIMM G D Delprat Distinguished Lecture The need for innovation The mining industry has a reputation for being slow to innovate. In mineral processing at least, nothing can be further from the truth. Here are just some of the innovations that have occurred in my lifetime: huge increases in equipment scale, carbon-in-pulp/carbon-in-leach, new gravity concentration devices (eg Knelson, Falcon, InLine Pressure Jig and Kelsey jig), high pressure Read More
Turning an abandoned gold mine into a renewable energy hub
A unique project in northern Queensland will use former mine infrastructure to deliver new stakeholder benefits Kidston, a small township in northern Queensland, will soon experience a world-first, with the refurbishment of an abandoned gold mine into a renewable energy hub. The hub, which will be constructed by Genex Power, is located 270 km north-west of Townsville in northern Queensland. The hub will comprise three renewable energy projects: a 50 MW solar project (Kidston Solar Read More
February 2017
Research perspective – mobile robots in underground mining
The use of robotics in mining will accelerate mine mapping, create virtual models, assist workers and increase safety Robotics is one of the disruptive technologies of our century and its opportunities for mining are increasingly discussed both in academia (Marshall et al, 2016) and industry (IFR, 2015). In underground mining, mobile robotic systems are found in modern production sites where they are predominantly used as autonomous transport vehicles. In most cases, the areas of Read More
December 2016
The contribution of mining to the emerging circular economy
The mining industry should embrace the circular economy to improve its sustainability and create value Introduction The concept of the circular economy has been gaining traction both in Europe and China. In Europe, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation sees its mission as accelerating the transition from a linear take-make-dispose economic model to a circular model that is restorative and regenerative by design and aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and Read More
December 2016
Navigating volatility – do you change your business or the way your business works?
The key to success is agility and getting into shape to deal with volatility now. It is important to focus on six areas that will lead to more effective cash management. Mining companies must move faster to generate cash and strengthen their balance sheets if they are to successfully navigate ongoing volatility. This is a challenge that management will need to deal with for some time. EY’s recently released report, Navigating volatility: do you change your business or the way your Read More
December 2016
Can renewable energy lower your cost of production?
Renewable energy solutions are becoming more viable for mining operations and have the potential to reduce costs The ongoing downturn in most commodity prices has led many companies to actively seek out opportunities to lower their cost of production to remain profitable. While many cost-cutting avenues have been thoroughly explored and implemented, the potential for reduced energy costs through the integration of solar photovoltaic (PV) is often either overlooked or put in the too-hard Read More
December 2016
Building and maintaining effective project teams
Effective project teams are essential for project success – how should owners and project managers form the right team for the job? Several factors contributed to the severe cost escalation in the first decade of the 21st century. Some relate to increased complexity and massive infrastructure requirements due to location, challenging metallurgy and significant environmental and social requirements. However, many problems were laid at the feet of ‘people’ and the falling skills and Read More
December 2016
Can the gold industry avoid the sins of the past?
The global gold industry faces a number of challenges now that the gold price is showing signs of recovery Over the past few years, the gold industry has implemented some of the more painful restructuring in its history in the face of a falling gold price. This has led to improved financial positions and returns for investors. But as the gold price is beginning to stabilise and fundamental economic factors are trending in the sector’s favour, there are red flags emerging that the industry Read More
December 2016
An introduction to mentoring
Fostering a mentoring relationship can have positive career benefits for both mentors and mentees What is mentoring? Mentoring involves a partnership between a less-experienced individual (the mentee) and a more-experienced individual (the mentor) where the purpose is the personal and/or professional growth of the mentee. Although the goals of the mentoring relationship may differ across both settings and relationships, nearly all partnerships involve the acquisition of knowledge (Allen Read More
December 2016
Organic management structure – its advantages in a mining consultancy
An alternative organisational structure that is flexible and meets the needs of the dynamic and cyclical nature of the mining industry The purpose of any consultancy is to provide a superior service for its client. Organisational structure is a key element in providing this service and differentiating between consultants. In an organic organisation, the emphasis is on effectiveness, problem solving, responsiveness, flexibility, adaptability, creativity and innovation. Such an organisation Read More
December 2016
Local level agreement making
Partnering beyond stakeholders, from across the table to around the table Stable local level agreements with land-connected people throughout the life-of-mine are fundamental to successful resource development. How this process is facilitated and executed sets the tone of the relationship with stakeholders, host communities and regulators throughout the life of the project and beyond. In developing a Native Title Mining Agreement for the Carrapateena project, OZ Minerals and the Kokatha Read More
October 2016
Where is the most attractive for investment?
An analysis of barriers to exploration investment A well-developed mining sector can produce great economic and community benefits. This leads many countries and subnational jurisdictions around the world to eagerly seek out mining investment. But as with all private sector activities, mining is competitive and investment capital is mobile. To encourage a robust development of the mining sector, governments must put forth attractive and competitive policies. Where is the most attractive Read More
October 2016
Decision-making under adversity
Learning how the brain interprets and processes stressful situations can help the decision-making process in high-pressure environments We initially became interested in decision-making as a topic because of insights and evidence from the gender diversity debate. Organisations with both women and men on the leadership team in relatively equal numbers perform better on a range of measures including profitability, productivity, risk, customer satisfaction and staff engagement. And the Read More
October 2016
Mine closure – are we using the right drivers?
Moving beyond environmental liability to achieve sustainable social and economic outcomes Mining and resource projects are a temporary land use developed and operated under regulated tenure or licencing that must be relinquished once resource exploitation is complete. Generally relinquishment is regulated for safety, environmental protection and remediation of operational impacts. But under contemporary corporate social responsibility frameworks, many mining companies are now also seeking Read More
October 2016
High-energy blasting delivers mining and milling improvements at Mt Rawdon
A case study that explores the potential for increased mill throughout using high-energy explosives The Vistis™ Bulk System is a range of high-energy bulk explosives for use in hard rock metal mines. Vistis produces over three-and-a-half times the detonation pressure and triple the relative bulk strength of ANFO. The energy levels generated, and the speed with which they are released, delivers optimal fragmentation that reduces overall operating costs either through pattern expansion, Read More
October 2016
Western Australia’s emerging uranium industry
An overview of the uranium projects currently being planned and assessed in Western Australia There are currently three mines producing uranium in Australia: the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory and the Olympic Dam and Four Mile operations in South Australia. In Western Australia, there is an emerging uranium industry with several projects well-positioned to commence when market conditions are favourable. In late 2008, a ban on uranium mining in WA was removed by a newly elected Read More
October 2016
Solving poverty through market linkages
Establishing a positive and lasting relationship between mine companies and communities through economic empowerment As a result of a livelihood program supported by Base Titanium Ltd, a Kenyan farmer is able to make more money, feed their family and support their children in school. In return, by including the community – giving them purpose and providing them the tools to get themselves out of poverty – a mining company’s community development program will be more likely to succeed. Read More
August 2016
Can the theory of constraints guide the next wave of mining productivity improvement?
A strategy of continuous improvement that maximises productivity without large capital investments 'Productivity’ and ‘continuous improvement’ have had a raised profile in mining recently. It seems as if all the major players are either chasing it or talking about it. It sounds simple, but finding a sustainable and systematic way of achieving and driving continuous improvement has proven difficult to achieve in practice. Could a methodology that has been very successful in other Read More
The AusIMM Professional Employment Survey 2016
An insight into the current state of professional employment in the minerals sector In June 2016, the AusIMM conducted its annual Professional Employment Survey. The survey, which is open to all AusIMM members, received a strong response, with 2472 professionals participating in this year’s survey. The survey uses the AusIMM’s unique position as the leading body for minerals industry professionals in Australasia to gain an insight into the trends and patterns currently affecting Read More
October 2016
What are appropriate rehabilitation standards?
Defining achievable rehabilitation standards will ensure that the legacy from mine sites will not become a burden on stakeholders Mine rehabilitation has been covered by an increasing number of newspaper articles in recent years showing that the topic is one of growing public concern (eg Slezak and Robertson, 2016). These articles suggest there is a growing sense of unease amongst the public that the industry is not taking rehabilitation as seriously as it should. Recent legislation such Read More
August 2016
The mining sector is down, but not out
The world's top 40 mining companies were in a race to the bottom in 2015, with falling market capitalisation and net losses leaving them slower, lower and weaker according to PwC's Mine 2016 report Mine 2016 is PwC’s 13th annual review of global trends in the mining industry. Its analysis is based on the financial performance and position of the global mining industry as represented by the top 40 mining companies by market capitalisation. In 2015, the world’s top 40 mining companies Read More
August 2016
Australia signs up for the EITI
After a successful pilot of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Australia is set to adopt the program and ensure continued transparency and best practice in the resources sector The lasting value of Australia’s natural resources should become clearer as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is adopted here. On 6 May 2016, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, and then Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, Josh Frydenberg, Read More
August 2016
Stakeholder engagement: who are you, what do you stand for and why?
Stakeholders' perceptions should be aligned with the organisation's mission and vision to ensure that it maintains social licence to operate With an increasingly dynamic business environment, successful stakeholder engagement is becoming more important to achieving desired outcomes in today’s mineral resource industries. It is imperative to be proactive in correctly identifying all stakeholders and initiating early contact. This builds trust relationships, which are essential to ensure Read More
August 2016
Future mining issues and mining education
Changes in the way minerals professionals are educated will allow the industry to retain a highly skilled workforce, even during times of uncertainty It is basically impossible to consider an advanced global society that is not dependent on mining and farming. Because of this, minerals-related professions will remain relevant for the foreseeable future, unlike many other careers that are becoming redundant due to advances in technology. However, the challenges facing the sector are likely Read More
August 2016
Rethinking merit for a sustainable mining industry
Although the concept of 'meritocratic' companies is popular, studies suggest that unconscious biases influence decisions based on merit. How might the mining industry overcome these biases? The need to improve diversity and inclusion in business has been on the agenda for Australian businesses for many decades. There have been plenty of widely published discussions on the topic, including a number within the mining and resources industry such as the Mineral Council of Australia’s Diversity Read More
Upgrades, modernisations and expansions: where will the expertise, capability and skills come from in the future?
The industry that supports operations and new projects is suffering a rapid decline in the currently severely curtailed capital investment environment. This is evidenced by a decline in the number of skilled teams, who are now centred in fewer locations. Other features are an aging and retiring ‘Baby Boomer’ generation, coupled with a low uptake of new graduates and the uncertainty in predicting future capital expenditure programs and requirements. Combine this with a reluctance of Read More
June 2016
Putting miners’ working capital to work
Poor management of working capital can lead to companies leaving cash in the ground Sustained low commodity prices, and a focus shifting from capital project delivery to moving down the cost curve, have driven a sharp focus on cutting costs and improving productivity in the mining sector. However, many mining companies and individual sites are missing out on ‘easy money’ because of poor working capital management. A recent EY report, Make working capital work for you: Unlocking cash in the Read More
iron ore reclaimers
August 2016
Productivity in mining operations: reversing the downward trend
A new methodology for measuring mining productivity shows the industry's performance is stabilising, and points the way to improving productivity more effectively The surge in demand for metals and minerals during the 2000s quickly translated into much higher prices and profitability for mining companies. Boosting production volumes became the industry’s top priority, and it had considerable success, expanding global production of certain major commodities by 50 per cent or more over the Read More
June 2016
Break-even is broken
Why the use of the break-even cut-off grade is flawed, and how it poses a fundamental problem for the mining industry Sometimes what we are taught is not right anymore (if it ever was) The lead author’s father was taught at school that the ‘nucleus of an atom was the smallest indivisible piece of matter’. It was then an undisputable truth. We now know of course about quarks, muons and neutrinos. In this article, we invite the reader to reconsider what they were taught on how break-even Read More
June 2016
The critical role of the mining technology professional
As automation and technology become embedded in mining, the mining technology professional has come of age In 2016, commodity prices have collapsed and the industry is facing tough times. Within mining companies, a fierce internal battle for capital is underway. Australian mining is desperately seeking ways to re-invent itself and remain cost competitive. The ‘third wave’ of cost cutting is now biting deeply (Figure 1), and mining is increasingly turning to re-engineering for solutions, Read More
June 2016
Achieving operational stability through technology
As mining company profits continue to be affected by the uncertainty in the global economy, the industry is on a quest for innovation to help increase productivity The mining industry tends to be slow in adopting new technology, but given the state of the industry, change is paramount in order to survive. By employing new technologies used by other industries, mining companies can better manage their businesses and their bottom line. We can learn from the way other industries use Read More
June 2016
Project evaluation – a non-executive director’s perspective
The following is an excerpt from a keynote presentation delivered at Project Evaluation 2016 Adelaide. The full paper is available in the conference proceedings, which can be purchased via the AusIMM shop. Projects are approved for development by a company’s board of directors. Generally speaking, boards compriseboth executives and non-executives, led by a non-executive chair. Projects are promoted and championed by the executive directors, led by the CEO. The non-executives are Read More
June 2016
Reducing costs without compromising orebody value
Geoscientists have an important role to play in helping companies improve the bottom line and add value to projects The previous 12-18 months in the mining industry have seen explorers and producers adjust to sliding market prices. Explorers have shifted their focus from high growth to capital preservation, while producers have changed their focus from being the biggest producer to being on the low end of the cost curve. At the moment, cash is king for explorers, and ‘C1 costs’ are the Read More
June 2016
Modern mining geology
An overview of the modern mine geologists' role, and a discussion of professional best practice and pitfalls to avoid Although mining has occurred for thousands of years, geology as a profession did not have wide recognition until the 1780s. Up until the 1920s geology tended to be an academic pursuit. The identification and discovery of mineral deposits was by professionals primarily trained as engineers or surveyors (Park, 1906). As well as the need to find and mine ores more Read More
June 2016
Inside Australia’s gender pay gap
New evidence highlights a number of opportunities to target and reduce gender pay gaps across Australian organisations, including those in the minerals sector Despite major advances for women in both educational attainment and workforce participation, the gender pay gap remains a permanent fixture of the Australian labour market, with the full-time gender pay gap remaining at or around 20 per cent for more than two decades. The pay gap currently stands at around 18 per cent, with women Read More
June 2016
Is Myanmar about to experience an exploration boom?
Production, potential and geopolitics in an important new minerals search space Myanmar (Burma) has recently appeared on the radar following the media coverage of its crucial November 2015 elections. This unprecedented democratic process resulted in a stunning victory for Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy (NLD) party, and led to The Economist naming Myanmar as its ‘most favoured nation’ for 2016 (‘Most Favoured Nation’, 2015). [caption id="attachment_7414" Read More
April 2016
The social psychology of risk, safety and leadership maturity
Dr Robert Long argues that social arrangements can affect decision-making and judgement in the workplace An introduction to social psychology Why do people do what they do? Why do they do things that don’t seem to make sense? Why do people change what they do depending on social context? How do social arrangements influence judgment and decision-making? How does risk make sense? These are the questions that preoccupy the social psychology of risk. Social psychology is the study of human Read More
June 2016
Uranium and the case for reform
Daniel Zavattiero, keynote speaker at the upcoming AusIMM International Uranium Conference 2016, says that while the South Australian Royal Commission shined a spotlight on opportunities in the nuclear fuel cycle, a simple reform will help boost the well-established Australian uranium industry’s prospects in the global market. Australia’s uranium industry continues to offer exciting possibilities for jobs and export revenue for Australia in the decades ahead. In 2015, economists Read More
April 2016
Commodity prices and their continuing impact on the professional skills pipeline
Trends in enrolment data for minerals degrees point to a need for higher education reforms to ensure the continued development of highly skilled professionals Mining relies on a highly skilled workforce that allows industry to innovate readily. The Australian minerals industry employs a diverse professional workforce, including engineers, environmental scientists, geologists, geophysicists, mathematicians and financial professionals. The industry directly employs approximately 200 000 Read More
Professional ethics affects everybody – what does it mean to you?
At AusIMM Congress 2016, which was held in Cairns in May, I chaired a very important workshop on professional ethics. We all face ethical challenges on a regular basis. As professionals, and AusIMM members, we all play an important role as leaders both in our work environment and in our daily lives. The Congress workshop enabled delegates to share personal experiences and to discuss the approaches they have used – or might consider using – to deal with ethical challenges. Professional Read More
Managing your risks as a consultant
Understanding your risk as a consultant, and finding an appropriate insurance cover, is vital to ensure any liability is minimised The transition from an employee to an independent consultant can be an exciting one: new opportunities, independence, and control over your working future. But it can also be a daunting change that brings new risks, signing contracts, personal accountability and personal liability. A range of questions arise: Can I be sued? Do I fully understand what Read More
April 2016
Developing professional skills for graduates
A recent program at the University of Wollongong has allowed students of minerals-related degrees to improve their employability skills and gain confidence when looking for their first jobs Studying at university, no matter what subject, can be a stressful experience for those who aren’t well prepared. I can guarantee that every graduate at some point struggled with their degree, whether it be an exam or assignment. However, in the current minerals industry climate in Australia, the real Read More
April 2016
Evolution of sublevel caving – safety improvement through technology
An overview of a wireless blasting system for use in sublevel caving operations that significantly reduces the risk posed to mine workers Sublevel cave (SLC) mining is breaking ore-bearing rock through blasting and drawing it out under the waste rock that is caving into the void created. SLC mines have the most intensive blasting process of all the mining methods, as generally one or two rings are fired at a time at each drawpoint in order to maximise recovery and reduce dilution. The Read More
President’s opening speech to Congress 2016
The following is an excerpt from AusIMM President Rex Berthelsen’s FAusIMM(CP) opening speech to Congress 2016. The AusIMM exists to develop professionalism within the mining and minerals industries. The Institute’s strategic plan has a headline statement that we all need to understand. It says: The AusIMM develops careers and communities, we do this by providing leadership and opportunities for minerals professionals. This is a theme that we will come back to time and again during Read More
April 2016
An outlook on the rare earth elements mining industry
How learning from the mistakes of the past can contribute to building a strong global rare earth elements supply chain The rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of 16 chemical elements consisting of the 15 lathanides plus yttrium. The term ‘rare earths’ is misleading, as it does not refer to their abundance in the earth’s crust, but to the inconspicuous appearance of the minerals from which they were originally isolated. Almost all REEs in the earth’s crust are more abundant than gold, Read More
April 2016
Weathering the perfect storm: how mining consultants can survive the downturn
The past few years have created a difficult environment for many consulting firms, but the skills of consultants are still vital to the industry The last three years have been pretty rough for the mining industry; and when mining companies sneeze, the mining services sector catches a cold. But what happens to mining consultants when the mining companies have chronic pneumonia and it lasts for three years with no end in sight? Let me share the Snowden experience and how we have Read More
April 2016
Divergent thinking – the value-add proposition in mining consulting
For owners of mineral assets, efficient and cost-effective project development is critical for achieving value. Unfortunately, too many executive teams are taking shortcuts in their development projects to conserve money and time, thereby doing exactly the opposite and exposing their shareholders to lost opportunities. Most project participants can tell you that the study process for a project moves from scoping study (SS) to prefeasibility study (PFS) to definitive feasibility study Read More
April 2016
Integrated mine planning
Examining the importance of designing the metallurgical plant within the context of the broader optimisation of the mining project The mine planning process includes the mining, processing, infrastructure, environmental and social aspects of an operation. It begins with a sequence of increasingly-detailed feasibility studies and continues throughout the life of the mine through several long-term and short-term planning processes. At various points in the sequence of mining and processing Read More
February 2016
The mining sector’s response to climate change
How reducing climate risk exposure can improve productivity The mining sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions as well as being exposed to risks associated with the impacts of climate change. According to Australia’s most recent National Greenhouse Inventory (for 2013), the industry is responsible for 11.6 per cent of Australia’s direct greenhouse gas emissions (EY analysis of Commonwealth of Australia, 2015a). At the same time, climate change poses risks to Read More
February 2016
Is there a future boom amongst the gloom?
Gold, copper and a robust pipeline of deals provided the highlights in a tough 2015 for Australia's mid-tier miners The last financial year left little to celebrate for Australia’s 50 largest ASX-listed miners with market capitalisations of less than $5 billion. Falling commodity prices coupled with poor investor confidence saw the combined underlying market cap of the mid-tier 50 decline by 16 per cent, with revenues, gross margins and cash flows all falling away. But there were a Read More
Managing expectations – from buyer beware to buyer be aware
Between 2012 and 2015 the resources industry experienced a downturn after a period of strong, sustained growth. As the commodity/investment cycle continues, the industry is again experiencing capital austerity in the wake of projects 'failing' (not delivering to expectations). In response, the industry has experienced changes in investment behaviour (slowing of investment), the burden of increased regulatory environment and an increasing reliance on the regulatory framework and reporting Read More
February 2016
The future of finance in mining
How the development of financial resources can improve the bottom line The economic slowdown has moved the focus of operational strategy from ‘getting tonnes out the gate’ to extracting high-margin ore. In times of high commodity prices, a focus on production can deliver the desired fiscal results and largely did for Australian operations. During this period, operational mining professionals have not been required to be sensitive to elements of cost versus financial return, which has Read More
February 2016
Social risk as an agent of change
Social risk in the mining sector is a legitimate business risk that must be managed strategically Mining has always been a risky business. From the gamble of finding a mineable deposit to the challenges of building and operating projects in inhospitable regions, there is risk every step of the way. In the late 20th century, mining companies became adept at managing the triumvirate of traditional risk (legal, financial and operating), building expertise to mitigate threats to project Read More
February 2016
Managing the risks posed by climate change
Integrating climate change resilience into mine and sustainability management The mining sector finds itself subject to increasing levels of scrutiny regarding the management of climate change issues by an expanding stakeholder group, including federal and state governments, local communities, consumers, investors, non-government organisations and the general public. The sustainability risks that mining companies need to manage are wide-ranging, largely as a result of the sector’s core Read More
February 2016
Exploration – never a better time to partner
Examining collaboration, technology and social licence to dispel exploration myths and increase success Seventy years ago geologist Harry Evans sailed a three metre dinghy with a temperamental outboard motor around 300 kilometres of rivers and coastline in western Cape York.  Harry’s discovery of the bauxite brilliance we now know as Weipa followed a ‘failed’ oil exploration campaign some months earlier. It is another reminder that a commitment to exploration can provide welcome and Read More
February 2016
The importance of context
How mass balancing and a structured data management approach can add greater meaning to laboratory and plant data In the mining sector, it’s essential that plant engineers and managers have confidence in the accuracy of the information they receive, especially from the plant laboratory. Recent improvements in technology and a greater understanding of the ways that data can be used means that technical staff are starting to get more out of their laboratory information; however, at many Read More
December 2015
Mental wellbeing in the mining industry
Examining the latest in government policy and professional best practice In recent years, a revolution in thinking about health and safety in the workplace has been quietly underway. Health and safety has had a traditional focus on physical safety risks and occupational disease, but  mental and emotional wellbeing has entered workplace health and safety discussions and programs. Mental health is an issue that is now attracting serious attention, and not before time. This article draws Read More
December 2015
Mining cycles and the end of the bust
Following more than four years of negative performance, investment sentiment towards miners is showing signs of turning - laying the foundations for the next boom Investment in the mining sector is cyclical, and sector valuation fluctuations between boom and bust are evident over time in share prices and index prices for miners (Figure 1). Mining is a capital intensive business, so the cycle is driven by liquidity – the availability of investment funding. Liquidity is the product of Read More
December 2015
Improving project value through effective cost management
The importance of developing appropriate frameworks to ensure project success Managing costs is critical to the operation of any major company, particularly operating mining businesses. This article outlines a structured approach for making major cost decisions to improve project value, determining which items should be kept and those that should be eliminated. While revenues can be difficult to control due to the underlying geology of the deposit or the market determined price, costs are Read More
December 2015
Integrating social and environmental aspects in project design
Reconsidering the way community, environmental and social issues are incorporated into planning The mining industry has faced strong opposition to major projects in recent years. Several significant projects have been delayed or ‘shelved’ due to community, environmental or social impact opposition. Responsible companies have made efforts to involve social and environmental specialists in project reviews and project design toll-gating processes. However, by the time of their involvement, Read More
December 2015
Ore Reserve estimates and changes in commodity price – a survival guide
Understanding price fluctuations and implementing best practice in Reserve estimation Volatile commodity prices present particular challenges for Competent Persons and companies and their obligations to keep the market informed. One of the hot-topics from the recent Monograph 30 Roadshows was the influence of recent swings in commodity price. In extreme cases people asked ‘does the Ore Reserve estimate still exist?’ and we heard a paper from Michael Creech where he presented a study of Read More
December 2015
High-speed video – an essential blasting tool
The use of high-speed video for the research, development and monitoring of the performance of blasting procedures is a well-proven but under utilised practice The practice of recording blasts for quality control purposes has been conducted for several decades. However, at the low frame rates of a standard video camera, essential data is frequently missed as it occurs when the shutter is closed between frames. The recent development of low-cost, easy-to-use high-speed digital cameras and Read More
December 2015
Geotechnical considerations for Resource and Reserve estimation
Why geotechnical design should be seen as an integral part of the overall mine design During last year’s Monograph 30 Roadshow a number of questions were raised regarding the need for additional guidance in connection with geotechnical input into Resource and Reserve estimations. In this respect this article advances some of the concepts given in Sullivan’s 2014 paper ‘The influence of geotechnical and groundwater factors on Ore Reserve estimation’ (Sullivan, 2014). It is important to Read More
October 2015
Tackling the crisis in mineral exploration
Reevaluating exploration methods will help increase value and recapture success A new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), entitled Tackling the Crisis in Mineral Exploration, has highlighted the genuine crisis on the lack of discoveries in the sector. The problem is worldwide, but its effects are acute in Australia where 80 per cent of the continent is under cover and new discoveries are more difficult. If exploration performance cannot be improved, Australia will be forced to Read More
October 2015
The AusIMM Professional Employment Survey 2015
An analysis of professional employment in the minerals sector In June 2015 the AusIMM invited all members to complete its annual professional employment survey. There were 2266 respondents to this year’s survey, representing 26 per cent of those invited. The survey aims to provide an insight into the current state of the minerals professional employment market, as well as the future outlook. The 2015 survey summary results show: The unemployment rate is 16.2 per cent for Read More
October 2015
Social capital in the life-of-mine
Exploring the complex and changing relationship between minerals companies, communities and the environment Resource prices hang over Australia’s national economy like a mercurial CEO – sometimes inspiring unrestrained confidence and risk-taking, sometimes driving downsizing and restructuring, and sometimes instilling thoughts about how to diversify business. Perhaps understandably, the public/policy debate tends to focus on the short-term impacts of market prices. But behind the Read More
October 2015
The new ethics of resource extraction
Why the threat of being labelled 'unethical' has the potential to harm the industry We have all noticed and perhaps participated in the rise of so-called ‘ethical investment funds’, which provide an optional avenue for encouragement of particular sectors, like solar cells, and avoidance of others, such as tobacco and ‘conflict diamonds’ and, of course, national corruption. In the view of some, genetic modification of crops, intensive commercial aquaculture and medical drug design are also Read More
Closeup shot of a man writing
August 2015
Expanding career skills education to offset the boom/bust cycle
Expanding what is taught to students is one way to address the harsh cyclicity of the industry As succinctly expressed by the AusIMM President Rex Berthelsen in the February AusIMM Bulletin, AusIMM builds careers and communities. This objective is laudable; however, as all who have been involved in the minerals industry are aware, the industry is inherently cyclical, a result of repeated exceedances in demand followed by exceedances in supply. These cycles have given the industry a Read More
mining equipment
August 2015
Wealth from waste
Depicting metals flows in the Australian economy and uncovering opportunities for higher value from recycling Australia’s rich stocks of mineral resources have been the source of national wealth and competitive advantage for successive generations. Having the luxury of an abundance of natural resources and a comparatively low population has enabled Australia to be a global leader of resources in the international market. While Australia will export mineral resources well into the future, Read More
road
August 2015
Changing attitudes towards uranium in Australia
The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission highlights an opportunity for new policy and industry developments In May, a series of community meetings were held in Adelaide’s universities by the South Australian Royal Commission into nuclear fuel cycle potential. By all accounts (and there don’t appear to be many in the media), these meetings were very civil. A straw poll at one suggested that half to two-thirds of the audience supported the consideration of fuel cycle Read More
mining bulldozer
August 2015
Innovation and opportunity in the minerals sector
Australian METS companies should take advantage of new technologies and collaborative partnerships The Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) industry is critical to the Australian economy. METS companies generate three per cent of gross value added as a percentage of the Australian economy (this is compared to the mining industry which contributes approximately ten per cent gross value added). Whilst mining employs around 250 000 people, the METS industry is responsible for over Read More
June 2015
Community engagement and professional ethics
Methods for achieving best practice in social impact assessment In the early days of my career (around 20 years ago) when working on one of my first major project developments, and prior to any formal discussion around social licence, a prudent project manager said to me: ‘Good corporate citizenship used to be about providing jobs and contributing time and sponsorships. This definition has now changed. Inside our gates it’s no longer another world, what goes on inside our operations is of Read More
Ava stephens 1
A bright future for a driven young woman
It is not often that you come across a young individual with the list of achievements, maturity and humility that Ava Stephens has. When you consider that Ava has had a childhood that would not propel many of us into the success story that she is writing for herself, her existence is even more of a rarity. In her eyes, Ava is a just a geology student – a country girl with a desire to see the world and lucky enough to be a 2015 AusIMM Education Endowment Fund Scholarship recipient. This Read More
aerial view of iron ore reclaimer
June 2015
The productivity challenge
Minerals professionals are central to identifying and delivering sustainable improvements in the industry Productivity is the word on everyone’s lips in the minerals sector at the moment. EY’s most recent annual Business risks facing mining and metals publication ranks productivity improvement as the most important industry risk factor (EY, 2014). The call for urgent action to improve productivity in the light of changed market conditions for mineral commodities is clear: ‘Companies need Read More
June 2015
The need for innovation in exploration and mining
New approaches to familiar practices are critical for long-term success Mineral exploration and mining are challenging businesses but are rarely considered as innovative by people outside the industry. However, both exploration and mining have a long tradition of innovation. Over the past 50 years, major step changes in exploration have resulted from radical advances in our understanding of ore forming processes; the development of new sophisticated airborne, ground and downhole Read More
June 2015
The power of scenario planning
Smart thinking about possible futures can allow the industry to be prepared for uncertainty We live in a world that is increasingly interconnected and rapidly changing. New business models and disruptive technologies are creating new opportunities and threatening established businesses at a faster rate than ever. This is being driven in part by the globalisation of science and technology, as well as investment in research and development around the world. Emerging technologies are Read More
What should be in the Mineral Processing curriculum?
Global study of pathways to the mineral processing profession The question of who can call themselves a metallurgist or a mineral process engineer can spark some very interesting and occasionally heated discussions.  We are a little different from our colleagues in mining engineering and geology, most of whom achieve their professional status via university programs called ‘mining engineering’ or ‘geology’. We all know a metallurgist or mineral processor when we see one, yet we frequently Read More
What makes a great engineer?
Behaviours and attributes that lead to success I have been working with mining, geological and geotechnical engineers for the past 45 years and have learned a great deal from them. At first, as an engineering trainee, I was taught to immediately admit a mistake and bring it to a more senior engineer’s attention. We all make mistakes from time to time – just fix them early. My reports were reviewed and corrected for spelling, format and grammar, a process that I resented at first, but it Read More
April 2015
Our global membership
Experiences from AusIMM members living and working in countries across the world The AusIMM is an internationally recognised entity and has members all over the world, reflecting the diverse and global nature of mining today. In this special feature, we ask some of our members living overseas to recount their experiences of being an AusIMM member working internationally. We provide a cross-section of the many different roles our members hold, and show the possibilities on offer for Read More
photo of open pit gold mine, New Zealand
April 2015
Kiwi mining conundrum
Why New Zealand mineral regulation needs an overhaul For mining companies sitting on the Australian side of the Tasman Sea, New Zealand must appear to be a dazzling opportunity, just waiting to be plucked. Just over 2000 km away is a country with one of the biggest exclusive economic zones in the world, endowing it significant natural resources. By the World Bank’s estimates the country ranks eighth out of 120 countries in natural capital per capita, a position that is only bettered by the Read More
photo of a mining operation in Mongolia
April 2015
Resource nationalism
Why the industry needs to remain vigilant despite retreating resource nationalism Resource nationalism rocketed to mainstream prominence in Australia in 2010 with the (failed) proposed Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT). With the commodity price boom well under way, and governments around the world struggling with diminishing revenue and reduced corporate activity due to the global financial crisis, attention focused on the mining sector as an easy target.  The RSPT led the way for Read More
Interview with Stefanie Loader, Chair of NSW Minerals Council
AusIMM Board Member and WIMnet NSW Committee member Pamela Naidoo-Ameglio caught up with Stefanie Loader who was recently appointed as Chair of the NSW Minerals Council. She had some great comments on the industry and her experiences so we thought we would share! What initially attracted you to the mining industry? Was it a field you have always wanted to explore or was there a specific event or occurrence that inspired you to join it? I never really considered joining the mining Read More
April 2015
Health and Safety – an essential element of ethical practice
The importance of health and safety as part of members' obligations under the AusIMM Code of Ethics The minerals professions cover a diverse range of activities, and involve work that has an equally diverse health and safety risk profile. We all have health and safety obligations. We are responsible for ourselves, our colleagues and – for those with leadership responsibilities – our staff. We are also responsible for protecting the health and safety of the community at large, not just Read More
photo of Daniel Travers presenting at 2015 awards night
Introducing the AusIMM Education Endowment Fund scholarship winners
It is with great pleasure every year that the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) Board of Trustees award the annual EEF scholarships, including the prestigious Sir Frank Espie/Rio Tinto Leadership Award and EEF Premium Scholarships. The application process starts in August the previous year and students from all over Australia who are studying a minerals related degree are encouraged to apply. The core theme of the EEF program is to identify future industry leaders amongst our student Read More
April 2015
Managing risk by doing good experiments
Why metallurgists need to know some statistics The problem My wife has spent her career in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical manufacturers conduct clinical trials in which new medicines are tested on volunteers to evaluate efficacy and safety. These trials are conducted according to strict statistical protocols that are internationally mandated by government regulation. Why? Because experience has shown that statistically designed trials give the best bang for the considerable Read More
February 2015
The diversity challenge
Greater workforce diversity offers opportunities the minerals industry is yet to fully embrace When I took the role of AusIMM President in 2011, many people were focused on the fact that it was the first time a woman had held this role. I said at the time that almost every professional will come to a place in their career or will experience an event where they are the first person to do something. While it is a good feeling to achieve that in your career it doesn’t define you and it Read More
February 2015
The making of the modern minerals professional
The minerals industry needs universities to help break down the silos between traditional professional disciplines. Role of the AusIMM The Australian minerals industry and the tertiary education sector have changed profoundly in the ten years since I had the honour of being President of the AusIMM, which is foremost a professional institute, rather than a scientific society, academy or industry association. This article reflects this perspective and represents my own opinions at this time Read More
February 2015
Should Australia sign up for the EITI?
An Australian pilot of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative highlights the benefits of good global practice. Should Australia sign-up for the EITI? This was the question put to a multi-stakeholder group (MSG) of Australian government, industry and civil society members tasked with piloting the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The group recently concluded their work and answered the question. They reported options for the EITI to go ahead based on their Read More
February 2015
Survival rates and financial performance of Australian junior explorers
Exploration is a high-risk/high-reward venture where understanding the value proposition is key It almost goes without saying that the junior exploration and mining companies are currently doing it ‘tough’. But it is also equally fair to say that these companies are made of even ‘tougher’ stuff. Putting aside the current difficulties associated with the business cycle, exploration is an inherently high risk/high reward activity. The following article quantifies all three of these Read More
photo of mountainous alumbrera landscape
Our global membership – continued
More stories from AusIMM members living and working overseas Read part one here. Richard Dewhirst FAusIMM(CP) Consultant, Limehurst Current location: Perth Previous locations: Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia Having started my career in Africa and worked in China, I was no stranger to different cultures, but from 2009-2014 I had the good fortune to work in South America. I went there to help establish SKM’s business with Vale in Brazil, and was subsequently based out of Santiago, Read More
June 2016
From the archives: The mining industry and the national economy of Australia (1943)
The following Presidential Address is an excerpt from the Proceedings of the AusIMM No 133, 1944. The address was delivered in Melbourne on 11 December 1943. Your Excellency, on behalf of the Council of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and, indeed, on behalf of everyone present, I extend to you a welcome, and our thanks for your gracious acceptance of the invitation to be here today and, later on, to present honorary membership certificates. I also welcome the several Read More
June 2016
Gender diversity – great success, but how do we continue on the same trajectory?
Mentoring, competitive advantage and eliminating unconscious bias are key While recently hosting an office morning tea in honour of International Women’s Day, I reflected on the gender balance progress in the Australian male-dominated industries in which I have worked over the course of my career. Acknowledgement of this progress is not always given the time or recognition that it deserves, as the tendency can be to focus on existing disparity rather than on the successes or the solutions Read More