Can you, please, tell us about yourself and your previous experience in geology and mining?
I was born in the small South Australian town called Tanunda in a famous wine growing district, the Barossa Valley. I graduated University in Adelaide and commenced working in the mining industry in 1989. I have worked in open pit mining operations in Australia, Indonesia, Peru, the Dominican Republic and now Kazakhstan. These operations have been mainly gold, copper and silver with various other bi-products. The operations production has ranged in size from 35,000 oz Au through to 3,000,000 oz Au per annum. I have worked for major companies (Barrick and Newmont) and Juniors (Otter Mining and Barrisan Tropical Mining) throughout my career. As we know you are originally from Australia, you live in South America, and you work in Kazakhstan.
What has attracted you most to work in Kazakhstan?
I am working on the Aktogay Operation. The opportunity to undertake another new startup operation, in a new part of the world. I enjoy the opportunity and challenge of the commencement of an operation, determining what is required, setting up the systems, recruiting the personnel and then spending the time training those people on what is required. That is the most rewarding part of my work, spending the time and effort training people and watching them learn and develop. I find that very satisfying.
Do you see any differences in the way of doing mining business in Kazakhstan, CIS countries than in other countries?
Yes, there are some significant differences working in Kazakhstan compared to other country’s I have worked in. The most significant differences I have come across so far is the requirements of the subsoil mining laws and their required reporting commitments. These requirements can be complex and time consuming. This is part of the legal requirements, so we have to complete them, when they are required and to the best of our ability and understanding.
Can you, please, specify main differences between ex-soviet and western geology?
In my limited experience on this topic to date, I would say the biggest difference would be the flexibility and opportunity allowed in the western style in mining geology compared to the ex-soviet methods. In the western style, we try to identify the critical requirements needed and then develop systems we believe will satisfy the requirements as cost effectively as possible. There is flexibility, opportunity and variations available. I do not think this is as easily undertaken with the ex-soviet system. Please remember I do not have extensive experience with this subject, it is from my experience working on the Aktogay project.
How do you think, what are the advantages of soviet geology?
Again, in my limited experience on this topic, I would believe that a standardized technique and plan would be undertaken on work requirements. This plan has been developed through experience so everybody will know what to do, when and the probability is high of a known successful result.
Is there anything what you would like to improve in Kz geology?
With my team, I am working on developing a culture of open thought, flexibility and the idea that the problems encountered can be overcome in various ways. We need to stop and think about what is required, then act. This will take time and experience but I hope we can achieve this successfully.
Have you implemented anything new to local geology on the projects you are working at? We are developing our grade control systems to support the mining operations at Aktogay based upon Reverse Circulation drilling to gather our samples rather than the standard blast hole technique. Time will tell if this will be successful.
What would you additionally tell or advise/wish to your colleagues who work in the CIS region’s mining companies?
Stay patient and calm. You are working in a different part of the world, it has its own cultures, beliefs and ways of doing things. These have been developed over a long time, you will not change these. You are working here for a reason, respect the people and customs, get your work done to the best of your ability trying to impart as much of your knowledge and experience as you can. Enjoy your time here.