AIG PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2011 – 2012
The past year has presented AIG with a range of challenges that have taxed the resources
of the Institute and placed a heavy workload, at times, on the volunteers that it depends on
for its ongoing, effective support of its members.
Professional standards and professional recognition have dominated the work undertaken by the
AIG Council throughout the year, comprising:
- dealing with changes to reciprocal recognition by Canadian Securities agencies for resources and reserves reporting in compliance with Canadian National Instrument NI 43-101;
- proposed changes to Canadian securities reporting, to require the use of Canadian based agents by overseas professionals; and, most importantly,
- the review of the JORC Code and ASX Listing Rules.
AIG members continue to enjoy the ability to provide technical reports of exploration results,
mineral resources and ore reserves for companies listed on Canadian securities exchanges. This
constitutes recognition of thorough membership application review processes by external bodies
involved in international accreditation of professional geoscience societies. Maintenance of AIG’s
membership admission standards has not been straightforward. The Institutes Articles of
Association have proven to be a wonderfully robust document that, whenever challenged in the
face of changes to the profession, largely due to it’s progressively more global character, have
proved to be remarkably well designed. At the core of obtaining membership of AIG is the ability of
an applicant to be proposed and supported by two existing members. All applicants must also be
able to demonstrate that they possess Tertiary geoscience qualifications, equivalent to a degree
from an Australian university and at least five years relevant industry experience of which two
years have required the applicant to exercise of professional discretion and judgement.
An increasing number of membership applications are being received from overseas applicants,
with no obvious connection to Australia that is attributed to an increasing number of geoscientists
working for ASX and Canadian listed companies in countries where there are no professional
geoscientific societies and institutes with reciprocal reporting arrangements. In such instances, the
requirement for applicants to be proposed and seconded by existing members stands, and the
qualifications of applicants are verified using a database established and maintained for this
purpose by the Australian government. AIG also continues to maintain a strong, enforceable Code
of Ethics, that each member agrees to be bound by and each membership applicant receives as
part of their membership application kit so that they are fully aware of the requirements and
obligations associated with it.
The Council is not aware of any outcome regarding proposed changes to Canadian securities
reporting requirements that would have required overseas professionals submitting technical
reports to be represented by a Canadian agent who, in turn, could be contacted by securities
regulators with any questions relating to reports. The proposal was strongly opposed by AIG. The
lack of a response to date leads us to assume that the matter is still being considered.
The JORC and ASX issues papers, to which responses were sought by the end of January this
year, both received a large number of responses from both individual geoscientists and industry.
The responses to the JORC issues paper are currently being considered by the JORC Committee,
which is also working closely with ASX to maintain the existing links between the ASX Listing Rules
and the JORC Code during the revision process. The work in progress currently will lead to
proposed amendments to the JORC Code being provided to AIG, AusIMM and MCA members
later this year, and introduction of a new version of the JORC Code, hopefully, before the end of
2012. A review of the VALMIN Code has also commenced, but substantial progress is not planned
until the JORC review is completed due to the links between the two codes.
2011 has also been a year in which we have seen increasing government regulation of access to
land for exploration across Australia and increased economic imposts on mining companies, all at
a time when the ability of companies to raise capital to fund exploration and project development.
Australia’s capital markets are now ranked fourth, globally, behind the TSX, TSX-V and the London
Stock Exchange as sources of capital for exploration and mining projects. This highlights the need
for effective measures to help maintain investor confidence, such as the JORC and VALMIN
Codes. There is also an ongoing need to remind governments in Australia of the global nature of
the exploration and mining industries and the need to ensure that they remain internationally
competitive. Australia competes with many countries for exploration activity, but competes against
only a few, developed countries for the generation of capital, all of which are arguably subject to
similar economic and social pressures affecting the development of their local exploration and
mining sectors and dealing with those issues in a manner that does not create perceptions of
sovereign risk or unduly lengthy and complex administrative projects that ultimately drive
investment off-shore. AIG regularly monitors geoscience employment trends in Australia through
regular surveys which depend on member contributions and provide a more rapid measure of
trends in the sector than official statistics. The importance of sustained investment in our resource
industries is clearly a message that needs to be continuously delivered in a concerted manner
throughout the coming year by both industry and professional representative bodies.
AIG is two years into a five year plan to help focus the continued development of the Institute.
Over the past year, we have experienced solid growth in membership, and retention of existing
members, which provides the fundamentals for the development of Institute activities. AIG has
also developed a strong student membership base by offering student membership free of charge
to undergraduates studying at Australian universities and establishing positions for university
student representatives on local branch committees. The aim of this initiative is to demonstrate the
value of professional engagement throughout all stages of every geoscientist’s career.
The Institute has adopted a model of cooperation with commercial conference organisers for the
development and delivery of major events, without compromising on the principal of ensuring that
attendance at major seminars and conferences remains affordable without compromising on event
quality, both in terms of technical content, relevance and venues. Recent events delivered under
this model include highly successful Exploration Technology and Resource Evaluation conferences
held in Perth, soon to be joined by the Structural Geology and Resources 2012 conference in
Kalgoorlie this September, in conjunction with SEG. Planning for a major Australasian exploration
and mining conference to be held in Bali in May 2013 is at an advanced stage, which will be AIG’s
first conference held outside Australia. The series of after-work and one ay seminars held
throughout Australia has also been enhanced with regular events in Perth, Brisbane, Ballarat and
Sydney throughout the year which underline the importance of AIG’s state branches in the delivery
of benefits of membership at a local level. This increase in activity has been supported by the
engagement of administrative and commercial assistance, particularly with branch administration
and event organisation on a contract basis, where event revenue covers the cost of providing
much needed assistance to the values work of volunteers which form AIG’s branch committees.
AIG has also played an active role in preparations for the International Geological Congress to be
held in Brisbane this August, which will showcase Australia and Australian geoscience globally.
During 2012, the Council took the step of making all Institute publications a benefit of membership
by providing publications in electronic form, free of charge to members, while maintaining sales to
non-members. Developing the range of publications available to members will receive continued
focus, particularly over the next few years.
A third element of the strategic plan is to foster increased member engagement in AIG activities.
One of the initiatives endorsed by the Council in this area is the formation of technical specialist
groups within AIG, covering any field of geoscientific practice, where members with a common
interest can exchange ideas and promote both professional and technical development in
particular disciplines, with the support of the Institute. Engagement by members in Institute affairs
is also key to ensuring that AIG remains relevant and focussed on members’ professional interests
and needs. This focus has been at the core of AIG’s success in the past and will remain so in the
future. All members are encouraged to express their views, or initiate debate on any issue
affecting our profession at any time. Contact details for Councilors appear in every edition of AIG
News. The Secretariat office in Perth can also be used as a point of contact for any issues of
concern. In many instances, the office will not be able to resolve problems that are not related to
administrative matters, but will certainly be able to ensure that any enquiry receives prompt
attention. There are any number of ways that members raise topics for discussion with colleagues,
from a letter in AIG News, to the AIG group on Linkedin or the AIG web site where any member
who is logged in to the site can access the forum pages or even comment directly on any article
published on the site. AIG News, our web site, www.aig.org.au, and branch newsletters are
recognised as being critical to the timely provision of information to members. We are open to
suggestion as to how these information sources can be added to or improved in order to ensure
that members are well informed regarding developments in our profession.
Continued professional development is also central to AIG’s strategy and vision for the future of
our profession. Participation in CPD is a fundamental component of being considered to be a
professional. Conferences, seminars, after-work talks are all important means of delivering CPD
opportunities that have been used since the Institute’s inception. During the past year, AIG
entered into a relationship with Edumine to establish an AIG Campus, providing members with very
low cost access to high quality CPD resources on-line.
The AIG Student Bursary program also continues to be generously supported by both corporate
and individual sponsors through our Education Foundation which is a registered deductible gift
recipient for taxation purposes. The program provides values support for both undergraduate and
postgraduate students at Australian universities each year and in doing so, assists students with
the first steps in their professional geoscientific careers.
This year marks 30 years since AIG was founded. Celebrating 30 years as an anniversary may
seem somewhat odd – 25 and 50 years are more traditionally celebrated anniversaries. 30 years
is, however, in modern Australia the average length of many careers and the anniversary,
fortuitously, coincides with the IGC in Brisbane later this year. The anniversary is being marked by
the presentation of special commemorative certificates to foundation members of the Institute
throughout the year.
The continued development and success of AIG throughout the past year would not have been
possible without considerable work by dedicated members forming our State Branch committees,
committees dedicated to the improvement of professional practices, and the Institute’s Council.
These members have devoted considerable effort to both the delivery of networking opportunities
and technical events throughout Australia, worked to enhance AIG’s developing relationships with
other professional societies and industry associations both within Australia and, increasingly,
internationally, the continuous improvement of professional standards and, most importantly, the
perception of Australia’s geoscience profession in Australia and, increasingly, throughout the world.
There is never any shortage of opportunities for all members to join in these activities. Several
Councillors are stepping down at this AGM. Amongst them, Jillian Irvin deserves special
recognition for many hours of work in maintaining the integrity of AIG’s membership application
processes throughout a period of sustained and strong membership growth.
The continued development of AIG will bring new challenges as it proceeds. The Institute will,
however, act at all times to remain focussed on the interests of members first and foremost,
responsive on issues affecting all sectors of the geoscience profession.
15 April, 2012