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Hunter Region Branch September 2019 Newsletter

Read the 4th Edition of the Hunter Region Branch Newsletter.

Welcome Message from the Chair


September is National Suicide Awareness Month with September 10th being World Suicide Prevention Day.  Eight people die by suicide every day in Australia – around 75% of these are men.  Tragically it is the leading cause of death in  Australia for men aged 25-44 and women aged 25-34.  It is estimated that for every death by suicide, three survivors will be left with a physical or mental illness that prevents them from ever returning to their normal work duties.

Although statistics are not readily available for the resources industry, with our predominantly male workforce within the target age bracket this is an issue we need to take very seriously.

Mates in Mining offers programs specifically designed for the resources industry in the areas of suicide awareness and support. The AusIMM Hunter Region Branch and WIMNet NSW are proud to be holding a combined event to support Mates in Mining and help them to continue to do the good work that they do.

I hope you can join us on Thursday 26th September at 5:30pm at Customs House, Newcastle, to hear from a panel that will discuss the work being done by Mates In Mining and what we can do to support people showing signs of poor mental health.  Funds raised will be donated to Mates in Mining.

Upcoming Events – Hunter Region 2019


Various events are coming up, including:

New Members


Congratulations and welcome to the following new members to Hunter Region Branch. We hope to see you at our upcoming events.

Chloe Christensen – Associate

Oliver Whatnall – Associate

Dean Holt – Member

Thomas Honeyands – Fellow (Grade Transfer)

Brittany McArdle – Associate

Matthew Andrews – Member

Trudie Larnach – Member

Mitchell Tarrant – Member

Jack Woollett – Member

Sian Baynham – Student

Lachlan Helbig – Student

Michelle McLean – Student

Brittni Nicol – Student

Lucas Rowston – Student

Jessica Taylor – Student

Mental Health in Mining Event


Date: Thursday 26 September 2019

Time: 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Venue: Customs House Newcastle, 1 Bond Street, Newcastle NSW 2300

Includes: Canapes and Drinks

Cost: $35   –   REGISTER NOW   –  Registrations are essential

Poor mental health affects 1 in 2 Australians.

We lose 2 people per day to Suicide in the Mining Industry.

Hunter Region Branch & WIMnet NSW invite you to join us for an evening event in Newcastle to discuss mental health in the Mining Industry and the work of Mates in Mining.

This event is being run in support of Mates in Mining who are a registered Charity as part of the “Mates In” group. All money raised above costs will be donated directly to the Mates In group, along with all ticket sales.

We have a guest speaker panel lined up to provide us information on the work being done by Mates In Mining, what we can do to support people showing signs of poor mental health & some statistics that relate to the Mining Industry.

There will be opportunities for you to contribute to networking & discussion.

We look forward to welcoming you and please feel free to bring a friend or colleague!

AusIMM President’s Event and Visit


A very successful event was held at historic Fort Scratchley in Newcastle on Monday 19th August. Around 60 people heard AusIMM President Janine Herzig present on the future directions of the AusIMM including the aspects of being the trusted voice for minerals professionals, and the major digital upgrades to AusIMM communications and activities.

Janine spoke on her professional development throughout her career from a young female process engineer at many mine sites, to senior managerial roles, chair of AusIMM Adelaide Branch, currently having her own consultancy, and now also as President of the AusIMM.


During her three day visit Janine was escorted by Hunter Region Branch members to tour the HVO mine site, the coal ship loader and some Hunter vineyards. She also had a meeting with the federal member of parliament for the upper Hunter region. An important aspect that was emphasised during the visit was mining education and employment of graduates.

We were very fortunate to have Janine present several of our members with their long standing membership certificates on the night, including Robin Hobbs with 40 years achieved.

Janine said the trip was very worthwhile and she enjoyed it very much.

The 6th Annual Jameson Distinguished Lecture


Another successful event in the annual series Jameson Distinguished Lecture was held in Newcastle on Thursday 25 July with 45 people attending. We were fortunate to have Professor Graeme Jameson attending on the night. This free of charge event is open to the public.

Dr Paul Breuer, Principal Research Scientist – Gold Processing, CSIRO Mineral Resources presented on “Thiosulphate instead of Cyanide for Gold Recovery – are we there yet?”

The CSIRO is aiming for greener and safer gold production with an environmentally superior alternative gold recovery process that dispenses with toxic cyanide.  A demonstration plant has been operated and negotiations are now underway to build the first commercial plants using this process.


This process was first discovered in the 1900s. More recent research in the 1970-90s advanced this work, however the process has often been eliminated in feasibility studies before the environmental aspects are considered.

The development path for thiosulphate by the CSIRO has adopted some Silicon Valley thinking to leap the innovator’s investment “Valley of Death” and overcome the challenges facing adoption of a new technology.

A mobile demonstration plant was used during 2017/18 at Menzies, 140 km north of Kalgoorlie, to treat gravity tails and old stamp battery tails. This used a vat leach process with simple resin adsorption, elution and gold recovery.

The target market for the technology is small scale professional miners world-wide.

Are we there yet? Quite close. The process can overcome environmental and social licence issues associated with the use of cyanide and mercury, produces dry tailings and is cheaper than cyanide.

The free finger food and drinks went down well with those attending, and some attendees elected to have dinner with Dr. Breuer after the lecture. Our thanks go to Dr. Breuer, who flew from Perth to present the lecture, and to our Branch committee member Kim Wright for organising the event again this year.

Women in Mining Network


The 29th of August marked the first official event of the WIMnet Northwest network. Hosted by the Gunnedah Courthouse, the event proved successful with 26 people attending. A range of companies from the region were represented including Whitehaven Coal and Idemitsu (who sponsored the event), Action Drill and Blast, Davidson Recruitment and Prospect Recruitment.


A short talk was given welcoming and thanking everyone for coming, giving a brief introduction to the group, what it’s about and what they can expect to see within the next year. There was a lot of interest and enthusiasm from everyone who attended the event for what’s to come in the future. Overall there was a great vibe in the room and everyone enjoyed themselves.

With 14 people signing up for information about upcoming events and several young women showing interest in joining the subcommittee and organising events to come, the Northwest network looks to have a successful future. The region will see more events over the coming months.

Veronica Towndrowbree

Taronga Tin Project Technical Talk – Armidale


The annual Hunter Region Branch – Armidale Technical Talk held on 3 September 2019 was very well attended by 45 people, with 19 industry representatives and 26 University of New England geological students.

The speaker, Dale Vrenegoor, Environment and Community Officer provided an excellent presentation of the historical exploration activity and the more recent work undertaken by the company Aus Tin Mining in the Emmaville district tin fields.

Dale outlined the exploration and approval process required to get the Taronga Tin Project to the stage of being “shovel ready”. The proposed mine has a current 10 year production plan and the company holds exploration rights to prospective areas identified in the Emmaville district to increase reserves. With all the approvals now in place to commence mining there was only one more matter to consider; to establish a sufficient supply of water for the milling process at the time of the State’s worst drought in decades.

Finally, a big thank you goes to Kim Wright, Paul Ashley and Nancy Vickery for organising another great New England technical talk and student participation.

John Norcott


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