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Retrospective: The International Mining Education and Training Best Practice Professional Development Initiative

Mike Katz, Former Director International Key Centre for Mines, UNSW, Sydney Australia
ยท 2900 words, 12 min read

This article looks back at the record of the International Mining Education and Training Best Practice Professional Development Initiative of the Key Centre for Mines at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia from 1988-2010.


In 1988 the School of Mines, UNSW, with the University of Wollongong, started up an Australian best practice professional development postgraduate program of short courses under the Australian Government funded Key Centre for Mines (KCM). The KCM International (KCMI) was the overseas arm promoting, developing and undertaking international professional mining education, training and consultancy programs and was one of the first in Australia, if not globally, that initiated these types of programs in the region. The KCMI continued its work after the disestablishment of the KCM in 1998 as a brand unit within the School of Mining Engineering, UNSW until 2010.

These KCMI programs involved upskilling government and industry mining professionals so that they would be in a better position to engage in modern sustainable mineral development (Katz, 1996). Many of the KCMI programs were procured by invitation and competitive bidding from agencies like Australian Government AUSAID, the UNDP, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank as well as overseas mining companies, notably TATA Steel India.

The training was tailored to the needs of the clients and in Australia consisted of mainly relevant KCM type short courses, special lectures and visits, field demonstrations, work placements and study tours and some in-country short term training and consultancies. The trainees were usually in small groups and the programs averaged weeks to months in duration. Although many of these projects were technology transfer and best practice mine management training, important environmental and sustainable development components were also introduced. Expert input from in-house and an expanded network of international consultants provided essential advice, experience and expertise in the design and content of the training programs. The visits and study tours in Australia were undertaken with the cooperation of Federal and State Government Departments, mining companies and other organisations.

Personal experience

As an expert for a Canadian Government assignment to assist in the development of the first Department of Geology at the University of Ceylon/Sri Lanka from 1967-1970, and as a senior lecturer at the School of Applied Geology, UNSW from 1971-1988, as well as a Councillor for the Association of Geoscientists for International Development (AGID) from 1976-1984, it became clear to me there was a need for continuing education and training, especially for mining professionals in the region.

This was proposed to the then School of Mines UNSW in 1986 to set up a regional mining education and training centre, which was accepted in general. With the establishment of the KCM in 1988, this regional centre plan was incorporated into the new KCMI.

This led to KCMI promotional activities at relevant international and regional meetings including the Asia Pacific Mining Congress and Exhibition in Bangkok in 1988 and the International Geological Congress in Washington in 1989. The invitation to join the Pacific Economic Cooperation Committee (PECC) Mineral and Energy Forum/Mineral Network in 1992 Sydney; 1994 Beijing; 1996 Manzanilla, Mexico; 1999 Lima; 2002 Noumea, New Caledonia; and Shanxi, China in 2005 was also a means to promote KCMI activities. For example, a seminar held in Brisbane, Queensland (Katz, 2003). The KCMI was also involved with the World Bank Communities and Small Mining (CASM) group and attended meetings in Sri Lanka in 2004, the Philippines in 2005 and Madagascar in 2006.

International Professional Mining Education and Training

In a review of mining education for mining professionals, the KCM was identified as providing special short courses in the region (McDivitt, 2002). The record of the UNDP, AIDAB/AUSAID, TATA Steel and other activities including the World Bank follows.


With the establishment of the KCM and the prospects of the KCMI offering and applying KCM short course programs overseas, one of the first opportunities was in 1992 with the UNDP that required training for a geologist from the Ethiopian Department of Mines. During a conference in Pakistan in 1992, meetings with the UNDP to promote KCMI activities led to the training of two staff members of the Azad Kashmir Mineral Development.

On the same trip a visit to the UNDP in New Delhi resulted in a training program for staff members of the Orissa Mining Corporation. As a result, the KCMI was then recognised as a provider of quality best practice Australian special mining education and training programs. This profile led to several UNDP training projects throughout the 1990s (Appendix 1). The most successful of these was the UNDP Lao PDR project, that the KCMI worked on in close cooperation with the Laos Department of Geology and Mines (DGM) in the training component and the East West Centre, Honolulu in the policy component. More information can be found in Katz, 2008.

Australian Government Aid Agency AIDAB/AUSAID

The UNSW School of Applied Geology and Mining Engineering had a good record of hosting international undergraduate and postgraduate students, so on the establishment of the KCM and the KCMI there was further opportunity to expand the international experience into more open education and training programs. This initiative and capability were promoted to the Australian Government Aid Agency (AIDAB and later AUSAID), which led to an opportunity for a coal export manager from Vietnam to take on an AIDAB one-year fellowship. More short training projects followed for Malaysia, Mongolia and Sri Lanka, where previous geological and mining experience and contacts had been developed (Appendix 2).

TATA Steel India

During a meeting in India in 2001, KCMI connected with contacts from TATA Steel regarding their mine managers’ training needs. The first of four successful programs commenced in 2002, where six mine managers were trained over eight weeks that consisted of short courses and mine visits to coal mines in NSW and iron ore mines in the Pilbara, Western Australia. This was repeated in 2004 for 11 mining executives for six weeks, in 2009 for nine mine executives over eight weeks and in 2010 for 10 senior mine managers for seven weeks. The complete details of this 2010 program have been published in Katz, 2022. During the 2009 program, a request was made to organise mineral exploration training as a result of interest in exploiting further resources. The KCMI contacted the Geology Department of James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland that ran mineral exploration short courses and the program ran successfully in 2011.

Other training and consultancy activities

During the formation of the KCMI, the School of Mining Engineering had already developed contacts and projects for South Korea and as a result projects with the Korean Mining Promotion Corporation, SAMSUNG, the Korean Centre for Mineral Research and the Industry and the Trade and Energy Division from 1988-1993 were undertaken. Another special study tour over six months was arranged for a coal economist from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy in 1995.

KCMI invitations to assist in mineral development training for the Indonesian Government and industry started up in 1991, with missions to the Kaltim Prima (KPC) and Bukit Asam coal mines, which resulted in two course presentations on the KPC site. In the same year, staff development training proposals were presented to the Freeport Mine in Irian Jaya. During a KCMI promotional visit to Indonesia in 1992, the KCMI was invited to Sri Wijaya University to interview applicants for ADB fellowships at the UNSW, which included one fellow in coal preparation. Between 1994-1997, short courses in mine costs, mine safety and project evaluation for the Government Mines Departments in Kalimantan, Irian Jaya and Bandung were offered on site. The last course on mine feasibility and design was presented to Banpu Coal in 2008.

Contacts were also made with the Orissa Gem Corporation of India in 1991 for the managers study tour of gem fields, which led to the UNDP Orissa project in 1992. After PECC meetings in China in 1994, the Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources requested a mining industry study tour for six senior officials over two weeks and a one-week study tour was arranged for the Coal Industry Bureau for seven coal managers in 1995. Similar study tours were held with the Turkey Istanbul Technical University in 1996 and the Erdenet Technical School of Mongolia in 1997. Special one-week training was offered to senior managers of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) of Japan from 1998-2001. A mine manager training program for Solid Energy New Zealand involved four senior engineers over two weeks in 2002.

In 1999 the World Bank, Mongolia contacted the KCMI to arrange a four-week study course for five geology university professors for the Ministry of Science, Technology and Education. One of the largest and most successful KCMI projects was developed with the Indian School of Mines (ISM) and the Ministry of Energy and Forests, India under a World Bank contract with MWH Global based in Denver, USA. In-country training by the ISM had to be followed up by overseas experience and due to our experience in India, the KCMI was selected. Thirty participants from mainly government agencies and some mining industry managers undertook a two-week mine environmental training program that consisted of one week of short courses and one week of mine and quarry visits. This included an inspection of a bioreactor that had been converted from a closed and rehabilitated mine and the details are described in Katz, 2022.

In addition to these special international training activities, the KCMI based on experience and knowledge of the many countries in the region had the opportunities to provide advice and expertise. In 1990, the KCMI1 was requested by the Australian Government to join an engineering student recruitment mission to Iran, which resulted in the placement of several Iranian postgraduate mining engineering fellows at UNSW. In 1996, two KCMI associates undertook a UNDP institutional strengthening technical consultancy assignment at the Anju Mining Institute Korea PDR and in 1997 an AUSAID invitation for a consultant1 to do feasibility study on the development of the GSMB, Sri Lanka in Colombo was successfully completed. Due to the experience and contacts in Sri Lanka, KCMI 1 assisted the School of Petroleum Engineering, UNSW to win the ADB contract in 2001 for the development of the oil/gas sector for the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.

Another major ADB opportunity, the China coalmine safety project in the Zhengzhou coal mining area with the Chinese State Administration of Work Safety and the Zheng Mai Group, was a successful bid and completed during 2007-2008 by a team organized by the KCMI1.


Positive feedback from all the KCMI training and study tour projects from 1991-2010 indicated that the programs were useful and constructive in the new skills and expertise that the participants acquired. A prime example is the UNDP Laos projects in 1996 and 1999 that were applied by the eight mine environment and inspection trainees of the DGM in a timely manner for the development of the first Laotian Sepon gold/copper mine in 2000.

A similar UNDP Vietnam project in 1995 involved five mining engineers of the SDMRD to be trained as mine inspectors in Australia, with follow up coal mine inspection training in Vietnam by a KCMI consultant. The TATA Steel and the World Bank projects for India overlapped in 2004 but were complementary regarding the enhancement of the environmental, social and sustainable issues of the Indian mining sector (Katz, 2022). The AUSAID institutional strengthening programs for Sri Lanka GSMB from 1997-2002 was started up by a KCMI consultant1 undertaking a feasibility study of the development needs of the GSMB in 1997.

The KCMI experience may have been a factor in the development of two international mining professional training programs funded by the Australian Government.

  • In 2011, the Australia’s Mining for Development (M4D) Initiative was established to support developing countries to manage their extractive industries to promote economic growth and poverty reduction. The International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC) – a partnership between the University of Western Australia (UWA), Perth; the University of Queensland (UQ), Brisbane; and the Australian Government (initially AusAID and now through DFAT) as one part of the M4D initiative. The IM4DC’s core activity is the delivery of short courses of very high quality with expert UWA, UQ and other presenters – generally leaders in their fields with strong academic, government and / or industry experience. The courses showcase Australia’s best practice mining for development capability and are well tailored to the context of IM4DC partner countries mainly in Africa. The transfer of knowledge and skills has assisted participants from many countries to implement useful change in their return to work (DFAT 2015a)1.
  • The Australian Awards Africa project from 2015-2020 had identified the extractive sector as a priority area for support regarding short course training in management and mineral skills development. This would also include regulatory and policy frameworks, negotiation, health, safety, the environment and mine closure (DFAT 2015b)1.

Other outcomes of the KCMI experience were the opportunity to be involved with a UNDP Cambodia extractive industry HRD project in 20101 and an appointment to undertake the mid-term review of the APEC mining task force with priority given to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Katz, 2011). These assignments led to the recognition of the need to introduce social responsibility content in the education and training courses even on the undergraduate levels of mining education (Katz, 2020).

1 the author was the consultant / team member of these assignments, missions and reviews.


This article, the author of this article and the publisher have no affiliation with the University of New South Wales (UNSW). The information contained in this article represents the views and opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of UNSW.


I would like to thank my KCM colleagues Charles Gerrard, Geoff Taylor, Bruce Hebblewhite, David Laurence, Ed Malone and Amal Bhattacharya for they’re ongoing support of all KCMI activities over the years.


DFAT (2015a) Mid Term Review of the International Mining for Development Centre - 4 September 2014

DFAT (2015b) Australia Awards Africa (2016 – 2020) Investment Design

Katz, M. (1996) Professional Manpower Training for the Minerals and Energy Industries in Australia and Asia/Pacific. In D.A.V. Stow & G.J.H McCall (Eds), Geoscience Education and Training (pp. 613 - 624), A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam

Katz, M (2003) Stakeholders Scheme for Sustainable Development, PECC Mineral Network Seminar, Brisbane, Queensland, MN-2003-Katz.pdf

Katz, M. (2008) Professional Education and Training for Sustainable Mineral Resource Development in the Asia Pacific Region, J Hadjigeorgiou (ed.), Proceedings of Third International Symposium on Strategic vs. Tactical Approaches in Mining, Laval University, Quebec City, 64 – 74

Katz, M. (2011) Independent Assessment of the APEC Mining Task Force (MTF)

Katz, M (2020) The need for socially responsible university educated professionals in the extractive industries, EIS, 7,4, 1351 – 1353

Katz, M. (2022) International Professional Development Cooperation Study Tours for Environmental, Social and Sustainable Development for the Indian Mining Sector, Journal of International Cooperation and Development, 5, 2, 1 – 9

McDivitt, J (2002) Status of Education for Mining Industry Professionals, IIED, MMSD No.38

Appendix 1 UNDP Record

Country/ Institutions

Year / Duration




Department of Mines

1992 / 4 months

1 Geologist

Mineral Exploration/Mining Computer Applications/Field trip to Broken Hill mining area


Azad Kashmir Mineral Development

1992 / 1 month

1 Petrologist


1 Mining Engineer

Thin Section Preparation, Microscopy/Economic Geology

Small Scale Gem Mining Tour


Orissa Mining Corporation

1992 / 2 months

2 Geologists

1 Mining Engineer/

1 Processor

Gem Exploration/ Field Work

Gem Mining / Mine Experience


Gem Processing / Demonstration


Department of Mineral Resources

1992 / 1 month

2 Geologists

Mineral Sands Geology and Field Demonstrations


Nepal Metal Corporation

1993 / 1 month

1 Mining Engineer

Small Scale Mining

Special Training in the Field


Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation

1994 / 6 weeks

1 Geologist

Mineral Exploration Training

Mining Site Experience


Sindh Mines Department

1994 / 6 weeks/

2 weeks

1 Inspector


1 Inspector

Coal Mine Inspection Tours



North Korea

Mineral Research Institute Anju

1995 / 2 weeks


3 Mining Engineers

Coal Mine Technology

Mines Study Tour


State Department Mine (SDMRD)

1995 / 1 month

5 Mining Engineers

Mine Inspection

Tour to Coal Mines Australia

Follow up in Vietnam


Mongolian Tech University (MTU)

1995 / 2 weeks

8 Mining and Geology Staff

Mining Industry Study Tour



1996 – 1997

1 Mining Engineer

Mine Management Masters Fellowship


Department of Geology and Mines (DGM)

1996 / 3 months


2 Mining Engineers

Mining Environmental Law and Regulations

North Korea

Anju Mining Institute

1997  / 4 weeks

4 Computer Technicians

Computer Application to Coal Mining




1999 / 1 month

3 Senior Chief Geologists

Remote Sensing Training


Lao PDR  


1999 / 3 months

3 Senior Mine Inspectors

Mine Inspection Training and Tours


Appendix 2 AIDAB / AUSAID Record

Country/ Institutions

Year/ Duration





1992 /

1 year

1 Manager

Coal Export Marketing AIDAB Fellowship


Department of



1 week

2 Geologists

Environmental Management


Ministry of Fuels and Energy


3 months

2 Geologists

Coal Geology and Technology


Erdenet Mine


3 months

1 Metallurgist


Mine/ Mill Tours

Sri Lanka

Geological Survey Mines Bureau (GSMB)

1997 /

3 weeks

3 Geologists

Information, Data and Library Training

Sri Lanka


1999 - 2002

5Mining Engineers

1 year each Master of Mining


Sri Lanka



6 weeks

2 Geophysists

Instrument Maintenance and Field Surveys


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