The student perspective: Queensland
Read the latest updates from members of our Student Chapters in Queensland, and hear how AusIMM is helping support and encourage students pursuing a career in resources.
Keep scrolling to read, or jump to one of the stories using the below links.
- The Southern Queensland Student Chapter at the Mine Waste and Tailings Conference 2023
- An update from the AusIMM North Queensland Student Chapter
- The student perspective: Resourceful Far North Queensland
by Tobias Massang, Undergraduate Mining Engineer, BHP
I am extremely grateful to both AusIMM and BHP for providing me with the opportunity to attend the 2023 Mine Waste and Tailings Conference, held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from the 13-14 July.
Having very little exposure to the world of mine waste and tailings management, this event provided me a prime opportunity to learn the ins and outs of how the industry regulates, sustains and promotes safe and responsible practices within Australia and across the globe.
My favourite talk was 'Some Geotechnical Fundamentals of Tailings Facility Design', presented by UQ geotechnical engineering professor Professor David Williams. I found this talk particularly insightful, as it laid out the geotechnical foundation of tailings dams and related this theory to what constitutes unsatisfactory, satisfactory and superb dam design.
Additionally, Prof Williams also covered the mechanisms which cause dam liquefaction and asked the difficult question: 'What is dry enough to be safe from liquifying?'. I was able to relate the information presented to my own studies of soil and rock mechanics and even experiences on-site, having seen tailings dams and understood the consistency of the material that is held within them.
The panel that occurred immediately following this talk was also very interesting, and introduced me to the many standards for mine waste and tailings management. This panel, appropriately titled: 'What governs? – GISTM, TSM, ICOLD, ANCOLD or CDA', contrasted the multiple criteria laid out in each respective standard and asked how a modern resources company should navigate the space.
The general consensus I perceived from the discussion was that anyone looking to apply the best standard to their operation should start at recommendations made in Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM), and then work through the other documents after. Through this presentation, I was also alerted to the fact that the GISTM was published by The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), a body I had previously heard about, however was unaware of the full extent of work they do to govern mining operations.
In some ways, we were given a possible solution to this panel question in one of the final presentations in the second session of Day 1. Here we heard from Fabricio da Silva, a governance specialist for Vale, who presented to talk titled 'Vale’s roadmap for the future – integrating multiple tailings compliance frameworks'. In his presentation, he detailed Vale’s approach for dealing with the multiple tailings governance frameworks of GISTM, TSM, ICOLD, ANCOLD and CDA in order to achieve multi-standard compliance.
As explained by Mr Fabricio, the process of reviewing and assessing an operation against all frameworks individually, alongside jurisdiction legal requirements, is not only labour but also time intensive. This approach makes even less sense when it is realised that the frameworks are very similar in criteria - which would lead to essentially the same regulations will be repeatedly checked. Vale’s solution, in collaboration with Forwood Safety, is to systematically merge the similar requirements within multiple frameworks into one comprehensive integrated verification process. This allows for streamline assessment of their operation, satisfying multiple standards while avoiding repeated evaluation. I believe that this is not only a more convenient, but also comprehensive solution and would ensure that operations meet all important standards for their tailings management.
Aside from the presentations throughout the conference, I also gained a lot of value when networking with industry professionals both at trade displays and during the multiple networking functions. I was particularly grateful to hear from representatives of the Malvern Panalytical display, who explained to me the workings of their X-ray machines. These instruments are able to provide very detailed component analyses of mine samples, such as tailings or concentrate products through the use of X-ray crystallography and X-ray fluorescence. Further to this, I was amazed to hear that some of these machines do not consume samples and so are useful for continuous analysis of material travelling on production lines.
In conclusion, being able to attend this year’s Mine Waste and Tailings Conference not only expanded my knowledge of the current and future technologies being used in the tailings space, but also allowed me to grow my professional network and further develop my networking skills. I found the experience extremely enjoyable and one which has greatly benefitted my journey within the resources industry.
In this way I am incredibly grateful to both AusIMM and BHP for providing me the opportunity to attend, and look forward to experiencing further conferences throughout the year.
by Jamilla Eime, Events Coordinator, AusIMM North Queensland Student Chapter
AusIMM’s North Queensland’s Student Chapter supports students at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville to become connected with the resources sector on a local and national scale. Our student chapter was officially formed in 2021, and has been steadily growing over the last year with more engagement from students across all levels of study.
The Chapter brings together students studying earth and environmental sciences, geology, and engineering, and works to provide them with networking opportunities, and open the door to gaining industry experience.
Last year, we sent a team of six students to compete at the Southern Queensland Local Mining Games to compete in a variety of ‘old school’ mining challenges. This was our first time sending a team to the Mining Games, and we are proud to have placed 3rd in the mixed division.
Since then, we have successfully run several events, including hosting Market Day stalls at the JCU Townsville (Bebegu Yumba) Campus, Trivia Nights, Student Meets Industry Events, BBQs, and Industry-Ready Workshops.
We have also supported students to attend events and conferences run by industry leaders, as well as compete in National Mining Games through the help of our sponsors.
Recently, we were able to send one of our members to the Resourceful FNQ Minerals and Mining Innovation Forum in Cairns and provide them with an opportunity to learn from experts and expand their local industry knowledge (see next story).
AusIMM Student Chapters are an empowering avenue for students to not only shape their own careers in mining and metallurgy, but also influence the direction and success of the regional and wider industry. Being a part of the chapter allows students to broaden their horizons, and easily gain experience, and express new ideas. I am excited to see the things we will all accomplish upon graduation, particularly, as the resources sector in Australia looks to greener energy solutions.
by Sara Chaffey, Committee Member, AusIMM North Queensland Student Chapter
Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Resourceful FNQ Minerals and Mining Innovation Annual forum in Cairns, Queensland.
As a student to have an opportunity to attend a professional forum was one of the highlights of my final year of studying a Bachelor of Geology with James Cook University. I was able to attend this by being a member of AusIMM's North Queensland Student Chapter and AMEC sponsoring me to attend. One of the many highlights of the forum was the opportunity to hear from seasoned industry experts.
Geologists, mining engineers and industry leaders delivered presentations on topics such as mineral exploration techniques, sustainable mining practices and the future of the mining sector. Their wealth of knowledge and real-world perspective offered myself another perspective of the challenges and opportunities in the field.
Attending this forum opened doors to valuable networking opportunities. Engaging in conversations with professionals from different sectors allowed me to expand my understanding of the field beyond the classroom.
One of the most significant takeaways from the forum was the emphasis on sustainable mining practices and emerging technologies being implemented to improve safety and production.
Attending this forum as a geology student has left an indelible impression on me, witnessing the dedication of industry professionals, and engaging in discussions has fuelled my enthusiasm to contribute to the field. I was also reminded of the vast potential that lies within the realm of geology and mining, motivating me as I enter my final semester at university.
I highly recommend students to take the offer if they have the opportunity to attend forums like Resourceful FNQ and would like to thank AusIMM and AMEC for the opportunity to attend.