WASMA Podcast: Leadership
Bill Beament, Chairman of Northern Star Resources, President of the WASM Alumni talks to Kyle De Souza.
Beament set his sights on a mining career at the young age of 13 after attending a careers expo and learning about the Western Australian School of Mines in Kalgoorlie. His dad had plans for him to take on the family farm machinery business, but Beament had other ideas.
Like many in WA’s mining alumni, he headed to Kalgoorlie after high school to study mine engineering, and ended up in the red-dirt town for eight years, gaining experience in underground goldmining.
“In Kalgoorlie, you’re immersed in the hard rock industry, but mainly gold,” he says. “Back then iron ore was a taboo word, no one wanted to go into iron ore, that was for people who couldn’t get jobs in the gold industry. Coal was a dirty word.”
He started his career working underground for four years for a contracting company and then moved on, because he knew by this stage he wanted to work his way into a management position.
Barminco, an underground mining contractor, sought him out and he joined its team at the age of 24, taking on the role of second in command at an operation in Wiluna, in the state’s Mid West. His potential was noticed and he was sent to run a copper mine in Queensland, at the age of 27. “That was a sink-or-swim opportunity and was a real defining moment,” he says.
Three years later, he was put into the Perth head office for the remainder of his 8 1/2-year stint with the company and was given the job of general manager of WA operations overseeing 13 mine sites and 1000 employees.
“What they probably didn’t realise was I didn’t want to be a contractor for the rest of my career and they had been grooming me as a future MD.”
After leaving Barminco, Beament started his own underground mining contract company, which he ran for about 18 months before the mine it was contracted to went under.
“I earned my first $1m and then lost it in the first year, but we paid off all employees and suppliers and had no debt and had a little bit of cash leftover, which I used to put into Northern Star,” he says.
Beament doesn’t believe it is luck that has got him to where he is, but that it is the culture of the company he and his team have built. “We have a work ethic in this company that reflects from the top to the bottom and there is a culture of calculated risk,” he says.
My board has backed me and my team 100 per cent and that is a pleasure to work in. They give us the licence to do what needs to be done and the results speak for themselves.