Ian Morley Thesis Award 2017

  • By Dr Brian White HonFAusIMM(CP)

In 1994, the AusIMM Education Endowment Fund initiated memorial thesis prizes through the AusIMM Southern Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne Branches.

These prizes are in honour of the outstanding contributions to the mining industry of Ian Morley, Charles Marshall and Ivan Newnham. Each year, prizes are awarded to the best Year 4 honours thesis written by a student enrolled in the departments of geosciences, and mining engineering or extractive metallurgy (or their equivalents) in each of the three states.

In Queensland, the Ian Morley Prize is awarded for the two best theses in geosciences and in mining or extractive metallurgy. The awarding of separate, disciplinary based prizes is in recognition of the difference between the study hours allocated for the students’ work.

Ian Morley graduated from the University of Melbourne with degrees in both mining and metallurgical engineering. He had a varied career in both private industry and the public sector (Mines Inspectorate) across the major mining states of Australia and overseas, and in Papua New Guinea and Fiji. He was appointed Chief Inspector of Mines for Queensland in 1940, a post that he held until 1969. During his career, Ian was closely involved with the improvement of safety and in innovation in both mining and exploration. After ‘retirement’, he established a successful mining and petroleum consultancy. Ian was appointed Honorary Fellow of the AusIMM in 1982 after serving the Branches and the Council over many years.

There are usually five theses, three in geosciences and two in mining and extractive metallurgy. A panel of industry professionals assesses the theses submitted by the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and James Cook University (JCU). The adjudicators are all senior, highly respected professionals who are active in the industry. Once again, I thank them for their diligence and commitment to helping us sort out the best of the best.

Every year we comment that it is very difficult separating the applicants, since all theses are of an extremely high academic standard. The situation is frequently exacerbated by the disparate nature of the topics addressed. Over the years, the judging panels have therefore looked for potentially useful and original contributions to the minerals industry as an aid to differentiating the work submitted.

This year, each of the eligible universities nominated a thesis in earth sciences. All three of the theses submitted were of a very high standard. However, one stood out as being an exceptional piece of work in the opinion of the adjudicators.

Unfortunately, there was no thesis submitted for extractive metallurgy this year. In addition, in the opinion of the adjudicator, the thesis submitted for mining engineering did not fulfil the requirements established for an award.

Therefore, there is again only one award for this year, and the prize winner in earth sciences, receiving a prize of a formal certificate and a cheque for $750, is:

Category A – Geosciences

[> 50% of a semester study]

Joshua Spence, Bachelor of Geology (Honours), College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville

‘Geological Characteristics of the Polymetallic Nightflower Deposit, Chillagoe, Queensland, Australia’

The adjudicator commented:

‘A comprehensive well-structured and researched thesis. Will serve as an industry reference for future work in the region.’

Category B – Mining or extractive metallurgy

[< 30% of a semester study]

No award

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