Superintendent Geometallurgy at BHP Olympic Dam
Since completing her PhD, Kathy Ehrig has worked continuously as a geoscientist within the mining industry, at Olympic Dam (one of the world’s largest metalliferous ore deposits). Her primary responsibilities are to identify, develop and implement productivity improvement opportunities and to sustainably reduce the cost of producing marketable metals. This role also includes identifying potential new revenue metals (e.g. green technology critical metals) or ones which may pose environmental challenges in the future.
Kathy has consistently strived to advance the understanding of how Olympic Dam, the archetype Fe-oxide Cu-Au-U deposit (IOCG-U), formed. This research has taken her down two seemingly separate, yet intricately interwoven paths: 1) cost effective discovery of more high-grade ore within the Olympic Dam deposit and discovery of mineralised occurrences of IOCG-U deposits outside of Olympic Dam, and 2) comprehensive characterisation of these mineralised occurrences so that they can be economically exploited (e.g. geometallurgy). The link between these two research strands is mineralogy. Ore deposits consist of minerals, we mine/extract minerals from the Earth’s crust, and minerals are the fundamental driver of metallurgical performance and efficiency. Kathy says 'if I can unravel how the minerals formed, and why they occur where they occur, then I can determine where I am located within any ore deposit and how best to produce marketable products from the ore deposit'.