Vale Bob Harrison

Vale Bob Harrison

I am crestfallen to announce my deeply respected friend and industry colleague, the indefatigable mining title master Robert Harrison has died overnight – he was 73 years old.  He is survived by his wife Wendy, first wife Suzie, and daughters Jasmine and Brie. He will be acutely missed by many.

Physically strong, he was a skier and a fine sportsman in youth, winning North Sydney Boys High School Blues for Rugby and Water Polo. A Baliphile, he was a peculiar mix of contemporary pursuits and traditional mores.

Bob was unique, with over 50 years in NSW and national mining title consulting he was the most experienced, knowledgeable and competent practitioner of his ilk in Australia. In short, a legend. 

His long service to the mining industry, as an unsalaried independent consultant for hire, is immeasurable. Bob worked to the end and the shockwaves of his death to the NSW mining industry, especially the mineral exploration community, will be long-felt. A tireless and authoritative practitioner gone.

His forthright pro-bono advocacy for practical mining title administration reform and clear, fair mineral exploration land access regulations is vast. Ultimately, the mere listing of his countless independent professional contributions to our industry is a feeble measure of a mighty character.

To know Bob was to get a real world flavour of the fearless, world-weary, frank and stoically honourable hardboiled fictional characters of the interwar pulp magazines. The closest thing to the fantasy portraits of the likes of Philip Marlow I can imagine meeting.

Bob was a lionhearted expert in exemplar. Fierce, blunt, direct, endlessly hardworking, unswervingly committed and intolerant of fools or the ambivalent. He demanded the utmost standards of logic, knowledge and competence from both government bureaucrats and clients alike. His high standards didn’t discriminate and he was very fond of telling his clients I am the insulant, not a consultant. He projected an overwhelming force of get it right, don’t waste my time or get lost. Irascible for the reluctant but an invigorating and rewarding challenge for the willing.

Distinctly an old Sydney salt; he was reminiscent of the rustic, direct, practical and staunch men I knew as a small child. Indeed, when thinking about Bob now, I am reminded of a famous quote regarding the Sydney business icon Kerry Packer – “He was not just frightening but was frighteningly smart”.

Despite his outwardly fearsome and terse demeanour, if you were committed, then you would find no firmer, passionate, generous and sure supporter. He would do anything for you; there was nobody better to have in your corner during the struggles of both business and life. Although I am saddened by his death he would have been the first to say get over it and press ahead. So he’s still in my, and all our corners.

I am profoundly honoured and privileged to have known Bob. An example of fierce expertise and assuredness most can only wish to achieve. The mining industry has lost a giant in his field and I do not think we will see his like again. His unprecedented contribution as an independent specialist and a good, honest man is to be wholeheartedly celebrated. Some future recognition by an institutional memorial reward would be fitting. Our industry should rise to acknowledge its loyal foot-soldiers.

His steadfast example can be aspired to but unlikely matched. I was lucky to be its witness. We now live in different and less forthright times.

Vale Bob Harrison.

CONTRIBUTOR: Doug Brewster

AIG congratulates recipients of annual Australian Academy of Science awards

Australian scientists’ leading research has today been recognised with Academy awards

AIG sincerely congratulates all scientists honoured for their achievements by the Australian Academy of Science.  

Geoscientists feature prominently amongst the 20 award recipients receiving prestigious honorific awards for their contributions to the advancement of science at the early, mid and career levels

The awarded research includes understanding how our wetlands respond to a changing climate and revealing serious complications in carbon capture

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, said this year’s awardees are blazing a trail for science both locally and globally. 

“The award recipients have made a significant contribution to the research enterprise and the impact of their research will continue for years to come. 

“They have distinguished themselves and the whole of Australian science, and the Academy is proud to support their outstanding contributions.”

Haddon Forrester King Medal and Lecture

, Dr Kathy Ehrig FAIG, BHP Billiton (Olympic Dam)

Dr Kathy Ehrig is renowned for her insights into the complex geological events involved in the formation of the supergiant copper-uranium-gold-silver Olympic Dam ore deposit. Her leadership in this research has attracted global attention because her advances may contribute to further discoveries elsewhere. She has created highly innovative solutions in characterising in situ ore properties and predicting metal extraction in advance of mining, primarily in the context of the Olympic Dam mine. These solutions are based on her profound knowledge and understanding of mineral assemblages and have proven to be highly robust and transferable to other mines, thereby having a crucially positive impact on productivity. The foundation of her achievements has been her ability to integrate diverse datasets through harnessing cutting-edge research methods and novel approaches. Dr Ehrig’s diligence, enthusiasm and dedication to the pursuit of science combine to make her an exceptional research leader.

Professor Richard Henley, Australian National University

For over 50 years, Professor Richard Henley has been a leader in the development of understanding of how economic deposits of metals, especially copper and gold, were formed within large-scale hydrothermal systems in volcanoes and mountain belts. The fundamentals that he derived have provided the basis of exploration for epithermal through to orogenic gold deposits, the practical chemistry of fluids in active geothermal systems and many follow-up research programs around the world. He has been acknowledged for his direct contribution to a number of major discoveries including the giant Ladolam Au (Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea) and the Onto Cu-Au (Hu’u, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia) deposits. In the last few years, he has led the recognition of high temperature magmatic gas reactions with rock forming minerals as the principal control on the generation of porphyry copper deposits. He is currently focused on application of X-ray micro CT scanning to derive new and detailed understanding of water-rock interaction chemistry and the properties of rock materials.

Further information about the Haddon Forrester King Medal is available here.

Mawson Medal and Lecture

Professor Andrew Roberts, Australian National University

Professor Andrew Roberts has made fundamentally important contributions to understanding the magnetisation of sediments, which provides the basis for use of paleomagnetism to reconstruct global plate tectonic movements and to understand variations in Earth’s magnetic field through its history. His work influences all aspects of understanding sedimentary magnetisation acquisition, and has particularly contributed to recognising that the previously poorly-known magnetic mineral greigite, and magnetic minerals produced by magnetotactic bacteria, make important contributions to the magnetisation of globally distributed sedimentary rocks. He is an international leader in the field of environmental magnetic analyses of climate change, and has developed new methods in rock magnetism that are used widely in solid state physics, materials science, the magnetic recording industry, and Earth science. His work in environmental magnetism has made significant contributions to understanding African monsoon dynamics, sea level variations, and Arctic and Antarctic glacial history.

More information about this medal is available here.

Dorothy Hill Medal

Dr Samintha Perera, University of Melbourne

Australia’s per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are among the world’s highest and the recent drought and bush?re crises clearly illustrate our vulnerability to increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Although carbon dioxide geo-storage in deep coal seams can play a vital role in emission reduction, conversion of CO2 into a highly chemically reactive “supercritical CO2 (scCO2)” at such deep depths causes unpredictable CO2 ?ow behaviours in coal seams while modifying its’ flow and mechanical properties. Dr Samintha Perera discovered the unique interaction between the coal mass and scCO2 and the resulting impacts on underground applications. According to her ?ndings, all these unique scCO2 behaviours in coal seams are caused by the signi?cant coal matrix swelling resulted from the coal-scCO2 interaction. Regardless of that, she found the effectiveness of scCO2 as a fracking ?uid for coal reservoirs, which gave a great value to this problematic scCO2 as a reservoir stimulation agent.  

More information about this medal is available here.

Frederick White Medal

Professor Kerrylee Rogers, University of Wollongong

Professor Kerrylee Rogers has made an internationally significant contribution to one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time: the impact of climate change on the world’s most threatened and ecologically important habitat, wetlands. Her work has demonstrated that coastal wetlands (mangrove and saltmarsh) respond dynamically to sea-level rise. By trapping sediment and building root systems, wetlands adapt to climate change but also help mitigate climate change by sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. Professor Rogers has used these insights to show that the restoration of coastal wetlands is an effective climate change adaptation strategy that can yield financial benefits to landholders. Carbon captured through wetland restoration can be reported by governments as saved emissions and traded by landholders in emissions trading programs. These insights have been effectively communicated through management and policy-focused papers, presentations and expert advice.

More information about this medal is available here.

John Booker Medal 

Associate Professor Annan Zhou, RMIT University

Associate Professor Annan Zhou has made seminal contributions to the understanding and modelling of the fundamental hydromechanical behaviour of unsaturated soils. Any soil can be unsaturated with water due to either evaporation or engineering processes like excavation. Unsaturated soils have been widely blamed for many geotechnical problems like slope failures, dam collapses, pavement cracking and foundation failures since they may produce large deformation and even suddenly lose their strength in wetting events. Associate Professor Zhou has established a new modelling framework to tackle the most fundamental issues in unsaturated soil mechanics. Within this framework, many unanswered questions and seemingly con?icting behaviours related to strength, deformation, soil-water interaction of unsaturated soils can be reasonably explained and effectively modelled. Based on the novel constitutive modelling framework and robust numerical techniques, he has developed advanced numerical tools for better design and assessment of infrastructure involving unsaturated soils in Australia and worldwide.

For more information about this medal, click here.

Follow this link to read more about each of the Academy’s 2022 honorific awardees.

Congratulations again to all medal recipients.

Know an amazing Australian scientist? Nominate them for an award! Nominations are now open for the Academy’s 2022 honorific awards, research conferences, research awards and travelling fellowships.

International Women’s Day



Gender trends in the AIG membership over the last 20 years

This graph shows the proportion of female AIG membership per age bracket over the last 20 years.

It evidences a significant rise in female membership proportion over that time for early career geoscientists less than 25 years old (aka ‘Next Gen Geos’) to a near equity position. This is a great trend for our Institute!

For the next age bracket of 25-35 years old there has been an increase in part over the two decades but at a lower rate than for the youngest bracket. Given this cohort in 2021 had near parity gender balance 10 years earlier when 25 years old, why has this happened?

Perhaps it is a sign of the challenges of a maintaining a geoscience career while enjoying a ‘normal’ life irrespective of gender. It is also likely a sign of the attrition on geoscience professionals from the severe downturn in the minerals sectors between 2012-2018.

The remaining age groups show a slow but steady increase – a positive sign, but still far from the balance which is our opportunity with future generations.

So how can the AIG better support female members through the pathway of their careers?

We can all help to better support the 25-35 year old age group no matter their gender – help to keep their interest, knowledge and skills current and evolving to best assist their continuance or re-entry into the profession.

This is a strategic challenge recognised by our Board – we welcome your ideas and participation.

Dale Sims – AIG President

#Breakthebias Reflections

I’ve been fortunate to have some real key female role models early on in my career and I thank them for paving the way for my generation. We are starting to turn the inequality due to the collective approach in the industry. It’s the dads of my generation which are also taking paternity leave. It is starting to normalise having a child and continuing with your career. It’s positive to see that within the last 5 years there are more females in the 7-15 year experience bracket because there isn’t an expectation to give up your career. I encourage everyone to #breakthebias and continue to call out the unacceptable behaviour to ensure that we are setting a better standard for the next generation.

Genna McDonagh
AIG Director

Nicole Galloway #breakthebias underground at Mount Isa Mines, QLD 1988.

As one of the first few females to work underground to one of only a handful of female Managing Directors of a listed ASX /LSE company, I have not let gender define or restrict my career goals. I would like to think that the often difficult road I and many other females in our industry have had to navigate since the late nineteen eighties is now a thing of the past for today’s generation of Geoscientists.  It’s only by the presence of strong role models and calling out unacceptable behaviour that we can continue to make our industry more inclusive and attractive to all. Working together we can #breakthebias

Nicole Galloway Warland
AIG Director

Nicole Galloway #breakthebias underground at Mount Isa Mines, QLD 1988.

#Breakthebias Reflections

Over the last 10-15 years, I have seen a huge positive change in diversity and equality within our profession, particularly the mining industry. No longer is it acceptable to tell a woman to ‘go back to the kitchen’, or openly objectify in a public setting. Additionally, as a career driven female with a young family, there is more support and appreciation of the fact that yes, I can go and have a baby, and yes, I can come back to an office job where my geoscience contribution is still valuable to my company. Of course, there is still more work to be done in the diversity and equality space, but I remind my impatient self that these things do not happen overnight. At least we can talk about the fact that we work in a white, male dominated industry, and express our frustrations. That was not even possible 15 years ago.

Leah Moore
AIG Director

#Breakthebias Reflections

I have started working in the mining industry some 25 years ago, and since then there have been significant improvements in the way that female geoscientists are regarded. There have been important changes in the flexible working arrangements enabling women to raise children and stay in the workforce if they wish to do so. However, I have always considered that maintaining high level of professionalism is above any gender issue.  Coming from very harsh background has empowered me to help and encourage other younger women in the profession.

Katarina David
AIG Director

I graduated as a geologist in 1996, as a single parent of a 5 year old. I was lucky to find an understanding employer, then Perseverance Corporation at Fosterville (now Agnico Eagle), that enabled me to work family friendly hours. It’s been challenging to stay in the industry and work around family commitments and at times I’ve worked in other industries because it was easier. Now back in the industry for the last 12 years (predominantly support roles after having more children), I see women are prominent in the industry like never before and I’m continually in awe and humbled by the successes of my female peers. They motivate me to keep working hard to reach those heights.

Fiona Czuczman (Makin)
AIG News Editor and Webmaster
Fiona & Corey (Fiona’s rock) attending a SMEDG Cruise.

This year’s IWD theme is #breakthebias.

Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field.

Please join our community of professional Geoscientists to progress womens equality, and create positive change – help us break the bias.

Dale Sims AIG President