Presidents Update – March Quarter 2023

Presidents Update

Firstly, welcome to those who are new subscribers and graduates who have recently joined the Alumni.

What a 2023 it has been so far…and we are only just getting started!

A lot has happened at WASMA in the last 3 months…

Council’s First Meeting for 2023: We welcomed Alex Biggs, Josh Redmond, Georgia Kerr and Dean Vallve to Council for the first time. Alex Biggs has accepted the role of Vice President. Dean has taken on the Mentoring and Memberships sub-committee. Georgia has joined Events and Marketing sub-committee and the Outreach sub-committee. Josh has joined the Mentoring and Memberships sub-committee as well as the Events and Marketing sub-committee! I’m looking forward to the new ideas and energy that new councillors are already bringing to the table.

The energy of the team is palpable – this team gives me the motivation to work hard for you – our members. Thankyou Councillors for volunteering your time and energy for us. You can learn more about YOUR council here.

Thankyou! There are so many people to thank when you run a non-for-profit. On behalf of members and Council, I pass my sincerest gratitude to Curtin staff that have gone above and beyond to support WASMA navigate through many changes within our own organisation and Curtin. We thank Quin Song, Jysae Hooper, Georgia Tripp, Erika Beazley, Jill Soriano and Nerissa Richardson for everything that you do for us.

Perth Graduation Cocktail Function: Liz suggested that we trial an evening cocktail event for Perth graduates. Graduates may not have been able to leave work for a long lunch. The small change had a huge result with 70 WASM:MECE students attending with their families. Our keynote speaker was Gabrielle Iwanow who was recently appointed as MD of Mincor Resources. The Honourable Bill Johnston MLA (was on leave but came and spoke to students anyway) also made a speech where he highlighted the significance of the Resources sector the future development of the Country. I want to extend my sincerest thanks to the Curtin team for their support in the execution of this event. The Kalgoorlie Graduation dinner is scheduled for Friday the 5th May. I hope you will join us! Tickets can be purchased here.

Curtin University #2 in the World for Minerals and Mining Engineering by QS: Can we get to number 1? What do we need to get there? Let’s do it WASMA. Let’s push hard in the next decade to get us back to the top spot.

The Master Chef Challenge: At the Gala ball in 2021, IGO donated money to the Scholarship fund at WASM in exchange for a Masterclass Cook-off. The night was an overwhelming success with Darren Stralow, Matt Bennetto, Jennifer Neild, and Kristie Young showing off their skills in the kitchen. There was no winner in the end. We could not decide! But the food was delicious.

If you ask me what the Secret sauce to our Alumni is. Its our ability to share stories together. Pass on our knowledge to the next generation of leaders.

Stay tuned, I think we will be looking at hosting a few more of these next year!

Thanks once again to Sam Retallack and IGO.

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Council Meeting with Vice Chancellor Harlene Hayne: Professor Hayne has made it a priority to focus on the student experience. A psychologist by trade Harlene has written over 200 papers. Her specialty “Risk taking behaviours of young adolescents”. Where was Harlene when I was in Uni? I could have used some of this enlightenment! (Just kidding, I grew up with 2 psychologists in my family).

It does not take a lot of conversations to realise that Harlene is the real deal. People and outcome-focused – and importantly someone passionate about the student experience, who also understands the unique risk-taking behaviour that moulds us all.

Just one year in we are already seeing huge changes at Curtin. We look forward to working with Curtin University and continuing to bridge the gap between academia and industry for better outcomes for the resources sector by producing industry ready graduates.

Recent Head of School and Director resignations. Curtin is searching for replacements for the Director of the Kalgoorlie Campus and also the Head of School. Two roles which are critical to the success of WASM. If you are interested or know someone who is, please get in touch with me.

Mentoring Program: Darren Stralow breathed new life into the WASMA mentoring program. Under the guise of “If we cannot do it well, we will not do it” Daz has created a program that last year had 140 members sharing their stories and learning together. The mentoring program is special to me. My own mentor Colin McIntyre talked about the mentoring available in the mining industry when he was trying to convince me to study mining engineering when I was in high-school. It is incredible to see this program brought back to life. Daz has since handed the reigns to Dean Vallve. The mentoring program is FREE. I strongly believe mentoring is something that should come from the heart. Something that should not be charged for. For this we are so grateful for our sponsors AngloGold Ashanti and Sandvik who cover the cost of the MentorLoop program and the event costs.

BMO Conference. Thanks to Darren Stralow and Graham Crew for organising an informal catchup of WASM Alumni at the BMO conference in Florida. How good is this!

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45th Annual Mining Games: 7 Alumni teams competed in the Northern Star  45th International Collegiate Mining Games. You’ll find a little write up with images from Richard Price and Darcy Frazer in this newsletter too. What a great way for new leaders around the world to meet each-other in a fun, safe and competitive environment.

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Accommodation Crisis: We had 7 front page adverts in the Kalgoorlie Miner asking for community support in housing WASM students. We still need your help as this is not a problem that will disappear after this year. If industry predictions are correct, the resources sector is set for strong growth on the back of the energy transition.

As you know, the Kalgoorlie Campus will also support Regional Health education. Like any business, the School of Mines is at the mercy of resources cycles. The Kalgoorlie regional hub will support an environment that encourages cross pollination between the resources and medical fields – and also the ‘base load feed’ which de-risks the campuses to the downside risks of the inevitable cycles.

To this end, WASMA will continue to advocate in the best interests of it’s members and I would welcome any comments, concerns and feedback.

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Sadly, our superstar Executive Officer, Liz has decided it is time to move on. Liz’s last day was on Tuesday. The work that Liz has done cannot be understated, and her contributions to all of our lives – especially during COVID will not be forgotten. If you’ve met Liz, you’ll know what I am talking about when I say there are big boots to fill.

We will miss Liz, and wish her all the best in her new role. Click here to see what we had to say about Liz and her achievements on a recent LinkedIn Post. It is clear from the response we got, that Liz has left a huge mark on our community.

Thankyou Liz. Not just what you have done for our community, but for guidance and support for myself personally taking on the role.

So what next for the Alumni without Liz or a replacement? I’ve been lucky enough to work with two great Executive Officers during my tenure on Council. The role spreads one person too thin – and at a recent meeting of the Executive team, it was decided that a two-person part time approach is better. In this sense, we form a small team that can put their heads together to solve problems – it also spreads the risk we are exposed to from a continuity of business point of view.

Selecting the right candidates is key, and we are not going to rush the process.

Our recruitment partner The Resources Hub by Dani Tamati is helping us with the search for 2 part time paid staff members.

Senior Executive Officer

Junior Executive Officer


Get in touch!

As always, I’m free to chat at any time and constructive feedback is ALWAYS welcome. Council is here to serve our members, if we don’t know about your concerns, we cannot do anything to change it.

If you let my number ring long enough you’ll hear my answering machine say “I’m out fishing, surfin’ or making a livin’”….sadly that is a lie, it was recorded when I was 24…I’m more than likely in a meetin’, eatin’ or sleepin’.

I’ll see you soon at some of the exciting events we have coming up for OUR WASM Alumni.

Bringing the Games home to WASM!

By Richard Price and Darcy Frazer

The Northern Star Resources Forty-Fifth International Collegiate Mining Competition was hosted by the Western Australian School of Mines in Kalgoorlie over the week of 20-26 March 2023.

The event honours fallen miners around the world.

It was hotly contested, with teams representing the best Mining Universities from around the world. Teams hailed from the UK, the USA and Australia.

Fifteen teams competed in the Men’s division, four in the womens and co-ed/mixed, and eight Alumni teams.

The weather held out, the WASM Wombats brought it home, and a great time was had by all!

The winners were the WASM Wombats B team (Mens), the Lady Muckers from Nevada (Women’s), the Colorado coed team (Co-ed), and the Alluminati team (Alumni).

WASM’s Intensive marketing focus rewarded

Andrew Murdoch

After expanding its course offerings to include more than just the WA School of Mines courses for the first time last year, Curtin University says it devoted much of its time on “marketing activities” and “partnership development”. Last year the university increased the courses on offer at its Kalgoorlie campus to include education, health sciences and commerce in addition to the mining engineering and metallurgy courses already offered at WASM.

In 2016, 374 students studied on campus, that figure dropped to 294 students in 2017, however an additional 114 students from the region studied Curtin courses online. Vice-chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said introducing new course offerings to a new market always required a period of marketing activities and partnership development. “This was the main focus in 2017 and considerable progress has been made,” she said.
“We have had good interest from the community and pathway organisations have embraced the opportunities to work in partnership with enthusiasm.

“Throughout 2017, Curtin engaged meaningfully with the community in order to identify collaborations and raise awareness of new course offerings.”
The expanded course offering came about after a 2015 report commissioned by the Goldfields-Esperance Tertiary Education Alliance indicated the existence of unmet demand for higher education in the region.
Professor Terry said Curtin’s decision to expand courses in Kalgoorlie reflected the importance of educating and retaining a skilled regional workforce.
“It is hoped this will assist in lift- ing higher education attainment levels across the Goldfields-Esperance region, allowing students to study without leaving their community,” she said.
“Curtin’s vision for the Kalgoorlie Campus is to strengthen the operations and position of the Curtin WA School of Mines and facilitate greater participation in higher education.
“Expanded course offerings will also ensure that the campus’ excel- lent facilities are used to their opti mum and to the maximum benefit of the community.”
Curtin’s first Kalgoorlie Open Day in May was a soft launch for new course offerings and was attended by more than 100 people. An information session in September targeted prospective students

Clontarf students gain insight into mining industry

Christy Taylor

Eight Aboriginal students celebrated the completion of a five-day intensive course last night with acelebration dinner.
The Indigenous Students Action Group, in partnership with the Clontarf Foundation, WASM and AngloGold Ashanti, provided the Clontarf students from across the State with a unique first-hand experience
of the Goldfields’ mining industry and what a career in the industry might look like.
Goldfields Clontarf Academy graduate Calen Tullock said his favourite part of the trip was visiting the KCGM Mt Charlotte operation and he was now considering a career in the mining industry.
“Going underground at Mt Charlotte was my favourite,” he said. “I was a bit claustrophobic down there, but it was a good experience because some people don’t get to see that.
“We got to meet all these people that were pretty high up in the ladder in the mining companies and for you to remember them, and for them to remember you, where you come from, and what you want to do was really good.”
Goldfields Clontarf Academy student Steven Trott said although he wanted to study software engineering at university, the trip gave him further insight into his dad’s work at the BHP nickel smelter.
“The camp was pretty good because we got to see all the roles that people do in the mines,” he said.
“It was great to head out to the BHP nickel smelter, because that’s where Dad works, so I have quite a bit of knowledge out there from his stories.”
The course gave the students the opportunity to rub shoulders with top mining and business executives including Carey Mining founder Daniel Tucker, who was also the keynote speaker on the night and Raleigh Finlayson, MD Saracen Minerals and President of WA School of Mines Alumni
As part of the course, the students also took part in a tour of the Sunrise Dam gold mine. ISAG chairman Keith Ross said he hoped the inaugural Mining and the Lands course would become an annual event and he hoped to
branch out and include indigenous girls in programs in the future.

Global School of Excellence

WA School of Mines Alumni Association president Raleigh Finlayson says industry support will be essential to get a long-proposed plan to upgrade the Kalgoorlie university up and running.

Mr Finlayson, the managing director of gold miner Saracen Mineral Holdings, said he was looking to get a “centre of excellence” at WASM, which is part of Curtin University, back on the agenda more than six months after the Nationals took the policy to the State election.

A $150 million plan to expand WASM into the Pilbara and develop a test mine and Harvard-like finishing school in Kalgoorlie-Boulder was put forward by local candidate Tony Crook and Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, both of whom were defeated, at the March election.

Mr Finlayson said he was talking to stakeholders again about putting a plan together.

“If we can get several funding sources from Federal Government, State Government and the industry itself, we think we’d have a chance,” he said.

“It’s probably an 18-month dream and we’re probably looking at early next year to try pull something together as a proposal, a business plan if you like, and obviously Curtin will be a core part of that through WASM.”

Fellow gold miner Northern Star Resources stoked the fire at the Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie-Boulder in August, when it pledged $50 million towards setting up its own centre of excellence in underground mining in the gold capital over the next decade.

But Mr Finlayson said broader industry support would be probably be needed to support a wider proposal

“We’ve got very strong support from the Northern Stars and Saracens of the world but if we can broaden that to start looking at the big end of town like iron ore, oil and gas, I think that’s going to be a major push,” he said.

WASM is ranked second in the world to the Colorado School of Mines in Denver for mining engineering, according to the global tertiary education standard QS Rankings.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the State Government was yet to see a formal proposal but noted the parlous position of WA’s finances.

“While the Government has had some preliminary discussions, we are yet to receive any sort of formal proposal,” he said.

“Should we receive the proposal, we would be sure to consider it on its merits.”

WASM Annual Ball kalgoorlie

Kal Miner Andrew Murdoch
A crowd of about 100 students and special guests donned their classiest formal attire and descended on the Palace Hotel for an evening of dancing, fine cuisine and celebration at the WA School of Mines Ball on Friday.
WASM Student Guild president Jonathon Flynn said the annual ball highlighted the school’s healthy social atmosphere and strong focus on student engagement. “I think one of the benefits of WASM is that because we are all
located on campus and most often away from our families, we develop a tight-knit community and it naturally results in a good bunch of people forming close relationships,” he said.
“Our main focus is promoting the opportunities for students to capitalise on their time in Kalgoorlie- Boulder and create networks to secure graduate positions and the ball is a way to relax after a year of hard work.”

Read Here

Curtin researchers ‘muddy’ current thinking on Earth’s mantle

Media release

Curtin University researchers have for the first time discovered the melting of mud in the Earth’s mantle, providing insights into the nature and history of the continental crust.

The paper in GEOLOGY published by Geological Society of America has significant bearing on the understanding of how the Earth’s rock cycle operates.

After several research expeditions to Oman and the United Arab Emirates, researchers found that the geochemical signature in the mineral zircon conclusively shows that mud from the ocean floor subducts deep into the mantle, where it then melts to form granite.

Lead researcher Dr Christopher Spencer from the Department of Applied Geology in the WA School of Mines Curtin said the findings provide new insights into how materials are recycled at the boundaries between continents and oceans, also known as subduction zones.

“The results from our research provide new information into the nature and history of the continental crust and mineral resources found within it,” Dr Spencer said.

“This discovery is crucial as it is the first time we have directly observed sedimentary material that melted in the mantle, as previous research has only speculated on this process.

“Our research discovered the highest oxygen isotope signature ever reported for zircon. Finding the zircon and the granite within the mantle rocks was extremely unexpected.

“Identifying the presence and determining the extent of mud melting in the mantle has important implications for understanding the effects on the composition of the mantle over time.”

The study was carried out with researchers at the John de Laeter Centre at Curtin University, as well as the Universities of St Andrews, Derby, Oxford, and Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa and The University of Western Australia.

Co-author Dr Aaron Cavosie also from the WA School of Mines said the research gives us fresh insight into how the zircon records large-scale tectonic plate processes.

“The mineral zircon records many geological processes, from the creation of the Earth’s earliest oceans, glacial process, metamorphism, and recycling of the Earth’s crust,” Dr Cavosie said.

“The zircon we analysed are off-the-charts in terms of oxygen isotope ratios which can only result from melting mud and finding these in the exposed the mantle is incredibly exciting.”

The research was carried out as part of the Early Career Curtin Research Fellowship awarded to Dr Christopher Spencer.

The full research paper, Evidence for melting mud in Earth’s mantle from extreme oxygen isotope signatures in zircon, can be found at:

WA School of Mines Girls Camp