Obituary: Simon Booth

  • By Andrew Robertson, Kevin Lines, John Gooding, Dave Wilton, Andrew Abbott

1952 – 2019

Simon Booth

Simon Booth was a traveller from a very young age, moving between Sydney and north Queensland following his father’s work. This would become a familiar pattern in later years with his own family as well. 

As an AusIMM member of 38 years, Simon contributed in a significant way to the global mining industry. After completing his geology degree at Macquarie University in 1978, he started his career as a graduate geologist at the Zinc Corp in Broken Hill. This was almost a rite of passage at this time in the Australian industry, and was where he started to develop life-long friendships, met his wife Lyn and saw the birth of their three children, Michael, Samuel and Katey.

Following a brief time at Mt Isa, Simon was given the opportunity in 1987 to be Chief Geologist at the small Nobles Nob gold mine at Tennant Creek operated by Australian Development Ltd. This team helped to lay the groundwork for what was to eventually become Normandy Mining.

After a three-year stay, developing the geological team at the Nob, Simon and his family moved to Darwin to lead the Posgold exploration effort in the Northern Territory. By this time, Simon’s team building and community development skills were beginning to shine.

Simon’s next move was to the Normandy head office in Adelaide where his family could finally set down permanent roots. His role was Chief Geologist, but his career began to move away from his love of geology at this point. He was regularly given the task of acting as General Manager at operations that were either between leaders or close to closing across Australasia. This further honed his skills in team-building and community and regulatory engagement.

In 2000, Simon was given the challenge of starting up the Ovacik Mine in Turkey after its acquisition by Normandy. This was the first modern gold mine in the country and Simon had to navigate the cultural, regulatory and political hurdles that come with a foreign culture with little modern experience of mining. Despite these problems, Simon was able to get the mine operational, with a largely inexperienced team to support him. 

There are now more than five modern gold mines in Turkey. Simon’s efforts contributed to establishing an entire industry. One particular act of swimming in the tailings dam to demonstrate the benign nature of the water was above and beyond the call of duty but demonstrated Simon’s willingness to build trust in his community.

In 2006, Simon and Lyn moved to London so that he could assume the role of Chief Operating Officer of Crew Gold. This company operated globally in Guinea, Greenland and the Philippines – testing Simon’s skills on a regular basis.

After returning to the stability of the family home and a short local role, the international challenges still called. In 2012, Simon and Lyn travelled north to Vietnam to establish the Ban Phuc nickel mine. This was Simon’s last expat adventure before returning to his home in the Adelaide Hills to spend his days with his family and extensive wine collection. 

As a leader, Simon never faltered, while still inspiring the best from his teams in some of the most inhospitable places in the world. As a friend and close colleague to many in the industry he will be sadly missed, but never forgotten. In memory of Simon and his life, raise a glass of red with some friends.

Share This Article