An introduction to the Mineral Consultant’s Handbook

  • By John Dunlop, AusIMM ConSoc Committee, AusIMM Director 2018-2020, formerly MICA Chair

The Minerals Industry Consultants Association (MICA) merged with the AusIMM Consultants Society (ConSoc) in 2017.

The merger brought with it a mineral consultant’s handbook, which was put together by MICA and released in 2016. Whilst primarily designed for the newer consultant, it may well be a useful resource for others in the minerals industry as well. The general aim was to set out a guideline or framework for a minerals consulting business, in a format that could be updated and added to as times and circumstances change.

Origins of the Mineral Consultant’s Handbook

The origins of the Mineral Consultant’s Handbook (MCH) go back a few years. The MICA Board proposed a consultant’s handbook and the writer was allocated the feasibility study section – the first chapter actually written. After that, the project stalled and I spent about two or three years producing the the AusIMM’s Mine Manager’s Handbook. During that period, whenever I found myself waiting in an airport lounge for a flight, I made it a habit to work on another chapter of the other handbook to pass the time. As a consequence, most of the text conveys a sense of ‘speaking from experience’, so inevitably the text seems anecdotal at times. Where appropriate, the footnotes, references or appendices were added at a later date. Input from colleagues in the industry, especially from MICA Directors and Members, meant that all of the chapters were peer reviewed.

What other handbooks are there?

The handbook is intended to sit comfortably alongside three other Monographs. These are (at the time of writing, and in order of publication):

  • Field Geologist’s Manual – AusIMM Monograph 9, 1976 and later re-printings
  • Cost Estimation Handbook for the Australian Mining Industry – AusIMM Monograph 20, 1993 and subsequently updated as Monograph 27
  • Mine Manager’s Handbook – AusIMM Monograph 26, 2012.

An agreed term of the MICA/ConSoc merger is that the MCH will be reviewed, updated and eventually published in hard copy, so as to rank equally alongside the existing handbooks. A ConSoc sub-committee will be formed in 2018 to progress this objective.

Who is the MCH intended to assist?

The MCH is intended primarily for younger minerals consultants, keen to enhance their professional skills in the way they deliver those skills to their clients. In theory, these younger professionals might not yet possess the required years of consulting experience required to become a Chartered Professional – but aspire to doing so. It might be that they are concerned with continuing professional development and simply wish to broaden their skills base. Others may simply find the insights set out in the MCH reinforce their own professional instincts. If nothing else, at the very least, it attempts to set out some sensible guidelines which should assist in daily professional practice.

What is the MCH format?

As with the other handbooks, this is not a textbook to be studied in detail. Rather, it is intended as a resource or guideline to be accessed as the situation dictates. Originally, the chapters were published in MICA newsletters, seeking comment from the membership. That feedback was incorporated. The text was also peer reviewed by Jamie Ross and George Edwards, whose comments and suggestions were most helpful.

Periodic updates?

As with any handbook, periodic revision will keep this ‘working tool’ relevant. With this in mind, it is hoped that minerals consultants of the future, whether from the ConSoc or the AusIMM, will cause relevant updates to be drafted and reviewed, thus leading to updated additions of the MCH as we have already seen with the Field Geologist’s Manual and the Cost Estimation Handbook.

With this objective in mind, the first detailed review will commence in 2018, hopefully leading to a second edition published in hardback through the AusIMM publishing committee. Additional chapters have already been suggested. A Mandarin version has been completed and there is interest already in a Spanish equivalent.

The appendices

The appendices are intended to be the working tools of the handbook. Over the years many of the pro forma deeds and agreements have been shared by me with others, and the objective is that this may continue, so long as it is useful. Digital copies of any of the appendices of interest are also intended to be available to interested readers.

The glossary

The glossary is a true ‘work in progress’. It began some years ago as yet another project which stalled. It would be fitting, and appropriate, if users could add to it by sending additional content to the review committee. Its potential value will increase only with wide ranging input.

The MCH and ethics

In Chapter 3, a distinction between a consultant and a contractor is suggested. In essence, it is suggested that professionals hold tertiary education qualifications and contractors do not, but there is more to this than perhaps meets the eye. Professionals have a responsibility to their clients, their colleagues, their industry and the wider community – before themselves. This is the basis of all the ethics codes set out in the appendices and is what sets professionals apart from contractors. Ethical behaviour is fundamental to professional service, and the link to the AusIMM Ethics Code has its foundation early in the handbook.

Can I obtain a first edition now?

Limited copies of the first edition are still available from the ConSoc in a searchable USB stick format. For more details, please contact the AusIMM Consultants Society at

John Dunlop, AusIMM ConSoc Committee, AusIMM Director 2018-2020, formerly MICA Chair

El Arish, Queensland

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