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Geoscience Society Newsletter - May 2021

Tony Wiggins Chair of Geoscience Society
· 3094 words, 16 minute read

Welcome from the committee Chair

Tony Wiggins

I would like to welcome you to the second Newsletter of the Geoscience Society of the AusIMM for 2021. Your Committee maintains its focus on building on the value proposition for those AusIMM members with a geoscience background through expanding the range of technical and other materials accessible through electronic means, and education.

This edition covers recent events that have been hosted by the Society and the broader AusIMM, touches on other materials that may be of interest, and introduces the Committee. As noted in previous newsletters, if you are planning an event that may have interest to the broader AusIMM geoscience community, please reach out as we may be able to help.

Tony Wiggins

New Committee Members

We are delighted to welcome two new members who have volunteered to join the Committee, Sarlae McAlpine and Lachlan Macdonald.


Geoscience Society Webinars

Future of Mining: Dealing with Complex Orebodies

On 31 March, the Society hosted Rick Valenta (Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland) in a talk titled “Future of Mining: Dealing with Complex Orebodies”. Professor Valenta specialises in geology and geophysics applied to mineral exploration and mining, leading research aimed at improving the discovery, mining and processing of hydrothermal ore deposits.

The talk noted trends in declining head grade, technical complexity and broader challenges of political environments, social expectations and environmental constraints. His team has developed a broad risk matrix to try and bring these considerations into exploration decision-making.

Climate Change & Mining

On 20 April your Society hosted a webinar by Simon Jowitt (Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas) titled “Climate Change and Mining”. Climate change mitigation will require a significant decrease in CO2 emissions associated with transport and energy generation, however, the material requirements for this transition are often neglected when developing plans and policy around combating climate change. Moving to a low-CO2 future will require significant (in some cases >500%) increases in production of key minerals and metals, well beyond the record levels of production the mining industry has already achieved. This presentation will outline the mineral requirements for a low CO2 future, why meaningful climate change mitigation will necessarily rely on the raw materials supplied by the minerals industry.

A past Society of Economic Geologists Waldemar Lindgren Award recipient, Professor Jowitt has published more than 85 papers and peer-reviewed book chapters, covering a wide range of topics ranging from ore deposit formation, the geochemistry of mineralising systems, igneous petrology, global tectonics and critical metal resources.

Earth Science- Is it time to rethink our narrative

On 28 April, your Society hosted a talk by Dr Peter Betts (Professor in the School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University) titled “Earth Science- Is it time to rethink our narrative”. Geosciences is becoming increasingly unfashionable in society and the COVID19 pandemic has shone a lens on the vulnerability of the discipline, which will have flow on effects to the resources industry.  There is a desperate need to readdress the way in which we all talk about Geosciences and to change our narratives to create positive perceptions and become more relevant to society.

Professor Peter Betts has over 25 years of research and teaching experience and has a diverse research portfolio that includes the Evolution of the Australian plate, Precambrian tectonic reconstructions and orogenic processes, Red Sea tectonics and subduction dynamics. Peter is the new Geological Society of Australia President and recently was awarded the GSA’s WR Browne award for contributions to Geosciences of Australia.


AusIMM Awards

There are a number of Geoscientists recognised in the 2021 AusIMM Awards.

Dr Tony Christie HonFAusIMM, and Professor Alice Clark HonFAusIMM were awarded Honorary Fellowship, and Professor Donald Barnett FAusIMM was the recipient of a Professional Excellence Award. Well respected consultant Susan (Sue) Border FAusIMM CP (Ret) received the Charles Marshall Award and AusIMM Chartered Professional Program pioneer Tony Osman FAusIMM (CP) received an Institute Services Award.

Abraham Whaanga MAusIMM (CP), William Vigor-Brown and Sam Nowland received the 2021 Best Paper Award for 'The implementation of photogrammetry and automated data analysis functions at the Waihi Underground Gold Mine', presented at Mining Geology 2019.

Full profiles of these and other award winners can be found here.

Professor Barnett was the first academic appointment in Australia in the field of mineral and energy economics, and went on to establish the Centre of Mineral and Energy Economics at Macquarie University in 1991. 

L-R Abraham Whaanga MAusIMM (CP), William Vigor-Brown and Sam Nowland

AusIMM Education Endowment Fund Scholarship

Every year the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) Board of Trustees Award the annual EEF Scholarships. We have invited winners to tell us more about the geoscience of their research and studies.

Kade Parascos is the recipient of an EEF Premium Scholarship (postgraduate) at Queensland University of Technology. His research aims to develop a scalable synthesis technique to produce high-performance solid-state electrolyte (SSE) materials for lithium-ion batteries. This includes defining key target minerals for next-generation battery and new processing methods.

Despite several decades of extensive research in SSE technology, their widespread commercialisation has yet to materialise, largely due to the technical challenges relating to limited Li-ion conductivity and high interfacial resistances (as well as the cost and lack of scalable synthesis methods).

AusIMM 2021 Online Courses

Over 2021, the Institute is delivering a mix of Professional Certificates (covering JORC Code Reporting, Tailings Management, ESG & Social Responsibility) and short courses (VALMIN Code, Diversity & Inclusion in Mining, Cost Estimation, Introduction to Mine Technology, Mine Safety) that are relevant to geoscientists.

A program of shorter on-demand programs (JORC Essentials for Executives, Mining 101 – Introduction to mining for non-miners) and masterclasses with content partners are also available.

The JORC Code Reporting Professional Certificate is suitable for geologists, mining engineers, metallurgists as well as aspiring and current Competent Persons.

VALMIN Code Reporting short course link

JORC Code Reporting Professional Certificate link


Core Skills for Geoscientists 2021 – Introduction to Core Logging, Data Quality and Interpretation – 5 Day Course

19-23 July 2021, The Exploration Data Centre, Queensland Government, Zillmere Brisbane

Course Co-ordinator; Dale Sims, Director Dale Sims Consulting


The Geoscience Society is delighted that the popular Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG)/AusIMM introductory core logging course has resumed after a Covid-19 interruption. Attendance to this introductory course is open to geoscience students, graduates and recently employed industry professionals.

With the current upswing in exploration and mining activity, now is a good time to gain exposure to practical data collection and analysis skills which will enhance your job readiness or effectiveness.

The aim of this introductory program is to develop your understanding of data collection and data management, sampling, assay QAQC, data validation and interpretation processes through a practical core logging exercise. Building confidence in data collection and analysis is a key objective of the program. The course is not suitable for people already experienced in core logging.

Evolution Mining are strong supporters of this initiative and are allowing use of their drill core at the Geological Survey of Queensland’s Exploration Data Centre at Zillmere in Brisbane. Attendees will log a series of holes across two cross sections of the Mt Rawdon gold deposit investigating the main lithologies, relative timing of units, mineralisation, alteration, and geotechnical character. This data will then be merged with the mine database and used to produce several cross-section interpretations on paper through the deposit. A confidentiality agreement will be signed by all attendees to access this real-world dataset.

In addition, it is planned to include a visit to an assay lab, undertake a pXRF demonstration, inspect the Qld government’s Hylogger and data as well as other scanner based core logging approaches being developed for geology applications. District geology discussions will be held with GSQ staff.

Attendees will receive a certificate of completion from this course as an AusIMM/AIG endorsed program. Numbers will be limited to ensure close contact between attendees and course leaders.

Click here for more information on the Core Skills for Geoscientists 5 day course 2021



Social Licence to Operate

AusIMM has taken a leading position in setting clear standards to guide professionals to ensure the sector's environmental and social performance meets community expectations and sustained community benefits. This is an area the Geological Society have identified as an imperative for the sector and profession, highlighting it at Congress.


 The AusIMM Social Responsibility Framework and Statement articulates due diligence requirements for all industry professionals, from 'front line' workers to managers, including social and environmental professionals. The Statement has specific accountabilities concerning social and environmental outcomes.

The framework is a direct outcome of the Social Licence to Operate (SLTO) Forum held in May last year, reflecting the work of a committee, now known as the Environmental Social Governance–Social Responsibility (ESG–SR) Advisory Committee. The Committee is currently planning for the delivery of a second Forum.

The Committee works to:

An integral part of the Framework is the Chartered Professional Program, with discipline categories for Environment and Social Performance. AusIMM introduced Social Performance as a new area of practice within the AusIMM Chartered Professional Program in 2020 – a critical step in bringing social scientists and other social performance professionals into the organisation.

Further information about the Framework and Statement, Chartered Professional Program, SLTO Policy Forum are ESG-SR Advisory Committee can be found here.

Launch of the National Geotourism Strategy

The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC, of which The AusIMM is a major member), has embarked on implementing a National Geotourism Strategy, designed to support the orderly development of major geotourism projects and domestic regional development imperatives. 

Professor David Cohen, President of the AGC has formally launched (7 April 2021) the National Geotourism Strategy.

 Here are the links to the official Media Release and Explanatory Notes.

The development of mechanisms for collaboration between providers of cultural elements and landscapes inclusive of mining and resource industry heritage (e.g., mining companies, geological and mining museums, historical and professional societies, and geological surveys) has also been identified as an opportunity to further the socio-economic benefits of geotourism.  

The National Geotourism Strategy embraces seven strategic goals.

  1. Development of new digital technologies to deliver and interpret for the traveller or visitor, quality natural and cultural heritage content, highlighting particularly geology and landscape.
  2. To define an approval pathway for major geotourism projects.
  3. To establish a framework for creating high quality, sustainable geotrails.
  4. To establish a national framework for geo-heritage listings suitable for geotourism.
  5. To develop geotourism in regional mining communities with potential geo-heritage and cultural heritage sites.
  6. To strengthen Australia’s international geoscience standing through geotourism excellence.
  7. To develop and enhance the geoscience interpretation and communication skills of everyone actively involved in the presentation of geosites, enabling the provision of accurate and thematic information in an accessible manner.

Geotourism is booming internationally, and it is an imperative that iconic Australian tourism destinations and products, particularly in regional and outback regions, can be transformed to meet both the needs of domestic and global travellers seeking superior travel experiences.

Your Committee has been asked to provide representations to some working groups. We will update members in a future newsletter.

Recent developments in Corporate Governance

Members of the geoscience community who are interested in participating in the industry at a director level should make themselves familiar with the February 2020 Treasury Laws Amendment (Combatting Illegal Phoenixing ) Act 2020 (Act) that came into effect 18 February 2021. They should also avail themselves of the Recent Big Star case (ASIC v Big Star Energy Ltd). If this material is of interest, reach out to the Committee and we will see if we can organise a subject webinar.

Happy Geologist Day(s) 2021

Geologists Day [4th April 2021] is a professional holiday of geologists, geophysicists and geochemists. It is traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday of April. The origin of the holiday is somewhat quaint, dating from a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on March 31, 1966 to commemorate the achievements of Soviet geologists after discovery of the West Siberian petroleum province.

International Miners Day [4 December] is the ancient St Barbara’s day of Europe.  As well as miners, Saint Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen, armourers, military engineers, gunsmiths and anyone else who worked with cannon and explosives. Some countries celebrate it on 6th December. May 4 is celebrated as Coal Miners Day in India reflecting the historical danger of this activity.

National Metallurgist Day [India 14 November] is celebrated on the birthday of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. On this day awards are given by Ministry of Steel, Government of India and the Indian Institute of Metals (IIM) to meritorious professionals from metallurgy & materials Science and engineering. In Russia, the day of metallurgist is recognized on 3rd Saturday in July.

Citizen Geoscience

We have all seen viral video clips of a land slide, flood, or volcano along with mining accidents where citizens on the spot have captured vital footage for geoscientists to analyse and learn from. The following article takes this concept of citizen geoscience one step further.

The Geological Society hosted a talk by Dr Jonathan D. Paul (FGS) (Department of Earth Sciences, University of London) titled “Breathing fresh life into geoscience”. The talk highlighted the potential for a myriad of apps to capture real-time data for analysis, and potentially hazard prevention. This may be another way how the science can connect with its community.

Gold fossicking in Victoria

The Victorian Royal Automobile Society has recently profiled top gold fossicking sites in Victoria. The five best locations for a gold-fossicking expedition were:


One of the richest cities in the world at the height of the gold rushes, Ballarat’s legacy of wealth lives on in its grand Victorian streetscapes as well as the family favourite recreated gold town at Sovereign Hill. Ballarat also has a burgeoning foodie and bar scene, and is an arts hub hosting the Ballarat International Foto Biennale every two years. 


Eighty kilometres north of Ballarat, Maldon was declared ‘Australia’s first notable town’ by the National Trust in 1966 thanks to its gold-rush architectural legacy and preserved 19th-century feel. This beautiful town has a thriving artistic community and boasts a full events calendar including an annual folk festival on the weekend before the Melbourne Cup. 


In the Central Highlands, 71 kilometres north of Ballarat, Avoca is these days better known for its wine industry. Considered the gateway to the Pyrenees wine region, it’s well and truly on the tasting trail.


This little town is a favourite of filmmakers thanks to its perfectly preserved streetscapes. Home of a nationally significant annual book fair, it also has an excellent monthly farmers’ market.


Creswick is an action holiday epicentre thanks to plenty of walking and cycling trails, and the striking pale water of Blue Waters Lake is a draw for photographers. 

The full article can be found by clicking here.

Your Geoscience Society committee 2021

Tony Wiggins MAusIMM, FFin, FGIA MSEG


Tony has Masters degrees in Applied Finance & Investment and Minerals & Energy Economics. An experienced geologist, financial analyst and institutional investment manager, his career has spanned the international resources and finance industries. Prior to joining the  BHP Portfolio Strategy and Development team, he lead business development and gold exploration programs in the high Andes of Chile

David Turvey MAusIMM

Deputy Chair

A highly experienced SA-based Director and Chairperson of publicly listed and private mineral exploration companies. David is a geologist with additional diplomas in marketing and gemmology. He has conducted a wide range of consulting and managerial roles, often taking him across the globe on business development in developing countries.

Hayley Mc Lean MAusIMM

Principal Resource Geologist Copper & Diamonds with Rio Tinto, Hayley is a geologist with a specialist citation in Geostatistics. Staring a career in North American Diamonds, her career has taken her to Africa and more recently, Australia.

Bert De Waele FAusIMM, FAIG

With a PhD in Geology, Bert has global experience ranging from work with the British Geological Survey and SRK Consulting, with an emphasis on exploration. He is specialised in regional geological mapping and sampling, and an accomplished geochronologist and active researcher. Principal Geologist at Fortescue Metals Group.

Holly McVicar MAusIMM

Holly is a qualified geologist, having undertaken additional studies in business. Working across multiple commodities, (including petroleum) in New Zealand and Australia, she is engaged in the Queensland Resources council, ACARP, STEM volunteer, mentoring along with cooking, animal welfare and more. A director of a small food business, she is based in Queensland, working as a Project Manager with AMETS.

Ian Wollff MAusIMM

Holds a Diploma of Applied Geology and BSc Geology. Has considerable global experience in exploration for coal, uranium, gold and variety of commodities. He has discovered and built coal mines, held a wide range of technical, operational, business & corporate roles. He is retired, and based in Indonesia where he is a regular contributor to a leading Indonesian mining magazine, plus blogging on exploration and mining.


With a PhD in geology, Andy has substantial global experience with major multinational and junior companies, exploring for uranium, gold, base-metals, lithium and coal. A technical all-rounder, Andy has a particular expertise in geochemistry. He is Chief Geologist of Deep Yellow.

Daniel Goldstein MAusIMM

A geotechnical engineer and geologist with experience in open cut and underground mining operations as well as exploration, Daniel is now studying Mining Engineering (Mine Geo-mechanics) at UNSW.  WA- based, he is working as a Geotechnical Engineer with Rio Tinto.

Clare Firth MAusIMM

Clare is an exploration geologist with experience in coal exploration and mining in eastern Australian and uranium exploration in Canada. Clare is passionate about the sustainability and longevity of the mining industry and an advocate for Women in Mining and STEM.  She is currently working in the External Affairs team for BHP in Brisbane.

Sarlae McAlpine MAusIMM

Sarlae is an experienced government geoscientist with a PhD in petrology and geochemistry. Sarlae works for Geoscience Australia in Canberra, with a focus the continental mineral prospectivity and critical minerals of Australia.

Lachlan Macdonald MAusIMM

Lachlan is a qualified geologist with international expertise in the areas of structural geology and resource estimation for iron ore and base metals. He has lead teams in Australia and Chile, most recently, as Superintendent Resource Geology, Olympic Dam with BHP.

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