Ian Morley Thesis Award 2019

  • 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.

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, the Queensland University of Technology and James Cook University. 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.

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. 

About Ian Morley

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) over 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 an AusIMM Honorary Fellow in 1982 after serving the Branches and on the Council over many years.

The 2019 prize

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 and one of which, in the opinion of the adjudicators, was an exceptional piece of work.

Unfortunately, there was no thesis submitted for extractive metallurgy this year. However, in the opinion of the adjudicator, the thesis submitted for mining engineering was an excellent piece of work that more than adequately fulfilled the requirements established for an award.

Therefore, the prize winners in each category are:

Category A – Geosciences

(>50 per cent of a semester study)

Ross B Chandler

Bachelor of Geology (Honours); Earth Sciences in the College of Science & Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville.

‘The Magmatic Evolution and Rare Metal Potential of the Peak Range Volcanics, Central Queensland.’

The adjudicator was very impressed with this piece of work and commented:

‘Ross has presented a logical theoretical argument based on field observations and analytical results to support his assertion of the existence of a significant exploration target in the southern Peak Ranges.’

Category B – Mining or extractive metallurgy

(<30 per cent of a semester study)

Thomas Farmer

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mining Engineering; Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, University of Queensland.

‘Novel Explosive Formulations: Analysing the Gas By-Products of Hydrogen Peroxide Based Explosives.’

The adjudicator’s comments included:

‘This excellent thesis reports on aspects of the work associated with the development of newer safer alternatives to the traditional ANFO-based explosives. The ultimate outcome of the study could be the creation of new blasting agents that will yield improvements in the environmental and safety & health impacts of blasting operations.’

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