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Exploring a career in the minerals industry

The Geological Society of America (GSA), the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the Society of Economic Geology will be hosting a webinar entitled Exploring a Career in the Minerals Industry. The webinar will be on Wednesday, 21 August 2019, at 11:00 a.m. MDT. This webinar will feature two presenters from Newmont Goldcorp who will provide perspectives of a senior project manager and a student near graduation on what a geologist does in this important sector and what it takes to work within this industry.

AIG members have been invited to participate in the webinar, one of a series covering different aspects of geoscientific employment.

Date and Time: 21 August 2019 at 11:00 a.m. MDT
22 August 2019 at 3:00 am Brisbane, 1:00 am Perth
Cost: FREE
Duration: 1 hour
Click here to Register  

The webinar will be recorded and made available to registrants.

About the Webinar
Mineral resources are essential for the world, from precious metals such as gold and their relationship to the global economy, base metals & rare earth minerals and their use in electronics through to industrial minerals used in creation of steel and other construction materials used in our everyday lives. In the past century these non-renewable resources have become both more readily mined and technically challenging to reach. This webinar will feature the perspectives of a senior project manager and a student near graduation on what a geologist does in this important sector and what it takes to work within this industry.

Geologists in the hard-rock sector are engaged in the discovery of metals & minerals as well as their interpretation and potential extraction. The mine development cycle creates opportunities for geoscientists in exploration, modelling, environmental, geotechnical, and production teams. Geoscientists in this field can work either for contracting and consulting firms or directly for corporations ranging in size from junior explorers to multi-national mining firms. Opportunities can include working in remote locations in the field and/or undertaking interpretation from regional centers. This often involves being part of a cross-functional team. As with any industry, demand fluctuates with the market, but skilled workers are always needed, and a good mining company invests in developing safe, long-term projects. Exploration and mining geologists work to fulfill the world’s mineral needs with integrity, expertise, and safety while facilitating community involvement, job creation, and transparency.

About the Presenters
Terry Briggs is part of a Regional Leadership Team currently supporting the South America region of Newmont Goldcorp with operations in Peru, Argentina, and Suriname as well as projects and joint ventures across the region. Previous roles at corporate in Newmont Goldcorp included leading the Geology Function within the Global Technical Services Group as well as running due diligence activities of assets for potential M&A within Corporate Development. Prior to joining Newmont, he worked at a variety of base and precious metal, open pit and underground operations in Australia, Eastern Europe, and South East Asia in both geological and operations management roles. He holds a master’s in Engineering (management) from the University of Colorado and a bachelor of science (specializing in economic geology) from Monash University.

About the Presenters
Terry Briggs is part of a Regional Leadership Team currently supporting the South America region of Newmont Goldcorp with operations in Peru, Argentina, and Suriname as well as projects and joint ventures across the region. Previous roles at corporate in Newmont Goldcorp included leading the Geology Function within the Global Technical Services Group as well as running due diligence activities of assets for potential M&A within Corporate Development. Prior to joining Newmont, he worked at a variety of base and precious metal, open pit and underground operations in Australia, Eastern Europe, and South East Asia in both geological and operations management roles. He holds a master’s in Engineering (management) from the University of Colorado and a bachelor of science (specializing in economic geology) from Monash University.

Elaine Lord holds a bachelor’s of science (hard rock emphasis) from Northern Illinois University, is pursuing a MSc. degree at the University of Alberta, and is currently interning at Newmont Goldcorp as a resource modeler. She has been part of the geological community since her childhood and has studied fossils, paleo-ecology, and resource modeling. Elaine has held positions ranging from GeoCorps park geologist intern to fossil preparator intern at the Field Museum, but has settled into mineral production geosciences as a career choice.

30 Things

30 Things, released recently by the Minerals Council of Australia, focusses on the science of materials, materials that mineral and energy explorers, resources developers and miners and petroleum producers find, extract and create for the economies, nations and people of the world.

30 Things is a great resource for pointing out the contribution of minerals and metals to everyday life – things we take for granted like:

  • electricity
  • iPads, smartphones and X-boxes
  • your home
  • beer
  • wind generators and solar panels
  • even the Melbourne Cup.

Download 30 Things in PDF format from the Minerals Council of Australia website.

Geoscientist unemployment essentially unchanged

The latest Australian geoscientist employment survey results show little change in unemployment and underemployment amongst Australian geoscientists in Quarter 3 from Quarter 2, 2018.

Geoscientist unemployment in Australia during the third quarter of 2018 was little changed from the previous quarter.  The unemployment rate fell from 8.5% at the end of June to 8.3% at the end of September.  Under-employment amongst self employed geoscientists also fell slightly, from 13.2% to 12.9% for the same period.

Geoscientist unemployment in Australia June 2009 to September 2018
Geoscientist unemployment in Australia June 2009 to September 2018.

Almost half (43%) of respondents reporting that they were under-employed said that they were achieving less than 25% of their desired level of self- employment, pointing to real unemployment and under-employment rates of 13.8% and 7.4% for the September quarter of 2018 respectively.

The survey results are interpreted to reflect anecdotal evidence of continued improvement in geoscientist employment in Australia throughout 2018, but the pace of improvement has been slow. 

“Employment conditions for geoscientists in Australia are showing very welcome, gradual employment but the rate at which this improvement is happening remains slow” AIG spokesperson Andrew Waltho said.  

State by state, unemployment fell in Western Australia and Queensland.  A small increase in unemployment was observed in NSW and the ACT, but significant increases in unemployment were evident in Victoria, where unemployment increased by almost 11%, followed by South Australia at over 9%.

Western Australia and Queensland unemployment June 2009 to Sep 2018
Western Australia and Queensland unemployment June 2009 to Sep 2018

“In the latest survey, 23% of unemployed and underemployed respondents lost employment during the past three months”.  “This was only slightly exceeded by the number of respondents re-entering the workforce” Mr Waltho said.  “A significant number of geoscientists appear to be caught in an employment revolving door” Mr Waltho said.

The proportion of geoscientists employed in mineral exploration during the September quarter increased, from 65.3% to 66.1% during the quarter; the highest contribution proportion of survey respondents engaged in mineral exploration of 66.9% recorded by these surveys in September 2012, suggesting that increased mineral exploration in Australia is making a difference, but at the expense of other fields of practice.  Little change was evident in employment in metalliferous mining and energy resource exploration and production.

The proportion of unemployed and underemployed geoscientists looking to leave their profession fell sharply from 4,2% at the end of June, to 2.6% at the end of September. 

“The decline in geoscientists looking to leave their profession must be seen as a positive sign” Mr Waltho said.  “These results are markedly down from the peak of 11.4% of unemployed and under-employed geoscientists looking to leave their profession recorded in December 2016” Mr Waltho said.

The proportion of geoscientists in full-time employment in the latest survey was 68.6%, well below the peak of 83.9% recorded in June 2014.  Part time employment provided 3.3% of jobs.  Some 28.1% of respondents identified as being self employed; up from 21.9% in the previous quarter and the low of 13.0% recorded in June 2013.  

“We have clearly seen a trend towards engagement of self-employed geoscientists as consultants and contractors by exploration and mining companies over the past four to five years” Mr Waltho said.  “This is reflected in data for employment and unemployment by years of experience, which points to almost half of unemployed geoscientists being the most experienced component of the workforce” Mr Waltho said.  

Geoscientist employment and and unemployment by years of experience.
Geoscientist employment and and unemployment by years of experience.

“Early career geoscientists are also experiencing difficulties getting started in the profession” Mr Waltho said.  “AIG is strongly focused on this issue with AIG’s National Graduate Committee working hard to improve opportunities for early career geoscientists through initiatives that, notably, include the Institute’s extremely successful mentoring programme” Mr Waltho said.

The next survey will open for contributions on 1 January 2019.

Australian geoscientists recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

A number of prominent Australian geoscientists and minerals sector figures were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours announced this week.

Mr Philip Ernest BOCK 
Medal (OAM) in the General Division 
For service to geology, marine biology, and to the community.  Dr Bock has been an Honorary Researcher, Museums Victoria, since 1982,  a Member, International Bryozoology Association (IBA), Editor and Contributor, World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), and a Member, International Society for Reef Studies.  His career has included recognition of a previously undiscovered barnacle of Genus: Tetraclitella, in a sandstone block at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Courts, 2006.

Mr Paul Robertson ESPIE FAusIMM
Officer (AO) in the General Division
For distinguished service to the mining and infrastructure sectors through financial advisory roles, to public policy development and reform, and to not-for-profit organisations.  Mr Espie is a Director of Aurelia Metals Ltd, and was Chairman, Oxiana Limited, 2000-2003 and Chairman, Cobar Mines Pty Ltd, 1993.

Ms Donna FRATER MAusIMM
Member (AM) in the General Division
For significant service to the mining industry, particularly through the promotion of greater gender diversity in the sector.  Ms Frater was Chair of the Women In Mining Network, 2008-2010 and a Member 2002-2015, involved with the establishment of Women in Mining and Resources Queensland, a former member of the Mining Mentoring Program, and is a co-founder and current member of Women in Mining NSW.  Ms Frater was also Chair of the Minerals COuncil of Australia Gender Diversity Reference Group, 2012-2015.  Her career also included geologist roles with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and Rio Tinto.

Mr Gary Michael JOHNSTON
Public Service Medal 
For outstanding public service through improving national and international scientific program delivery in satellite positioning and geodesy.  Mr Johnston’s leadership in his role as Branch Head, Geodesy and Seismic Monitoring at Geoscience Australia has enabled the improved adoption of satellite Positioning, Navigation and Timing technology across Australian industry, research and government sectors.  Since 2015 he has chaired the International Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Service (IGS). GNSS supports many applications, including precise navigation, machine automation, and surveying and mapping. His key contribution has been to refocus IGS efforts onto societal applications of precise observations of the Earth using GNSS technologies.

Professor Geoffrey Neil PHILLIPS FAIG FAusIMM
Medal (OAM) in the General Division
For service to rogaining, to minerals exploration, and to education.  Professor Phillips is a Director of  Phillipsgold and an Honorary Professorial Fellow, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, since 2000.  He was Chief, Division of Exploration and Mining, CSIRO, 2001-2004, General Manager Geology, Great Central Mines Ltd, 1995-1999,  and Chair, Victorian Institute of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 2001-2005 and Member, 1995- 2005.

Ms Erica Lee SMYTH
Companion (AC) in the General Division
For eminent service to the community through corporate governance roles with charitable, medical research, higher education, nuclear scientific and technology organisations, to the minerals exploration sector, and to women in business.  She was Chair of Toro Energy, 2009-2015 and a board member from 2004-2015.  She was also Non-Executive Director, National Energy Resources Australia, since 2015; Non- Executive Director, Deep Exploration Technologies CRC, 2013-2017 and Chair, Advisory Board, National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management
Authority, since 2017.  She is also a former Deputy Chair and Director of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.  Dr Smyth’s career has included Principal Geologist, BHP Minerals Limited, for seven years, Manager, Beenup mineral sands project, BHP-Utah Minerals, for four years, Manager, Gas Market Development WA, BHP Petroleum for two years and General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Woodside Petroleum Limited, 1999-2004.

Congratulations to all award recipients.

Focus on mining safety

ICMM releases latest mining safety data of its members

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) recently released its annual safety data report on its member companies.

ICMM is committed to strengthening the health and safety performance of its members and reducing operational fatalities to zero. As part of this commitment we produce an annual safety data report of our membership. The full report is available at www.icmm.com/safetydata-2017

The report, which collates the safety data of around 950,000 workers and contractors, recorded 51 fatalities in 2017. This was a decrease from 63 fatalities in 2016.

Eight of the 23 ICMM members reported no fatalities in 2017, these were Antofagasta, Goldcorp, JX Nippon, Mitsubishi Materials, Newmont, Polyus, South32 and Teck.

The number of hours worked across ICMM’s members dropped by four per cent, but taking this into account, fatalities reduced by 15 percent. There were 2 incidents which resulted in more than one fatality, a decrease from 5 incidents in 2016.

The data also shows an 11% decrease in the number of total recordable injuries from 8,445 in 2016 to 7,515 in 2017.

Tom Butler, ICMM’s CEO said: “While eight of our members had no fatalities and there were twelve fewer deaths in 2017, tragically 51 miners lost their lives. We shouldn’t underestimate the hard work that has been done to reduce fatalities, however this is still too many and we are determined to achieve our goal of eliminating fatalities in our members’ operations.”

The report findings include:

  • Twelve fewer fatalities recorded in 2017 compared to 2016
  • Eight member companies recorded no fatalities in 2017, an increase from six in 2016
  • 17 fatalities (33 per cent) were caused by fall of ground in underground mines – the number of fatalities fell from 31 in 2016
  • 11 fatalities (22 per cent) were due to transportation/mobile equipment, a reduction from the 15 recorded in 2016
  • In 2017, there were 931 fewer recordable injuries than in 2016 and 2,979 fewer than in 2015

In the six years of safety data published by ICMM, fatalities have dropped from 90 in 2012 to 51 in 2017 and in this time, the fatality frequency rate has dropped by 18 per cent
Since 2012, total recordable injuries have dropped from 13,895 to 7,515 and the total recordable injury frequency rate has dropped by 22 per cent.

The report also examines incidents by country and finds that 25 fatalities occurred in South Africa, four in Peru and three in Chile and the USA. The fatality frequency rate in Africa is 0.040 per million hours worked, 0.031 in Europe, 0.019 in the Americas and 0.013 in Oceania.

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