Time firmly on Lilly’s side

PETER Lilly got what he wanted at last week’s Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy elections.

And that was another go as a director of the institute. His appointment at the end of last year was a one-year appoint-ment only, but this time around Professor Lilly (below) has secured a three-year tenure.

Professor Lilly is well-placed both professionally and geo-graphically for this new appointment.

Most of Australia’s gold, iron ore and nickel comes out of WA and, as a consultant and Head of Mining Engineering at Curtin University’s WA School of Mines, Professor Lilly is domiciled in Kalgoorlie and often onsite at various locations throughout the Pilbara.

Professor Lilly describes his professional experience as one third in mine developments and operations, one third in consultant engineering and one third in applied research.

Soon after completing an engineering science doctorate in Johannesburg in the late 1970s, Professor Lilly was recruited by CRA, came to Australia and joined the AIMM.

Professor Lilly has seen the AIMM evolve over two decades and has developed an appreciation of the proven efficacy of the self-regulation and professional excellence promotion roles of the AIMM.

However he also has a clear view of important membership and industry issues facing both the institute and the industries with which its members are involved.

Membership of the AIMM is for individuals only and not companies, who are represented by various chambers and councils. Professor Lilly can see a membership gap, that of geologists and geochemists. Geoscientists have their own institute, the Australian Institute of Geoscientists, but one which focuses on a broader range of geoscience applications than just minerals exploration and mining, and the AIMM is keen to convince these professionals that membership of the AIMM would be beneficial both ways.

A comprehensive list of major issues for minerals exploration and mining identified in a ‘future-of-the-industry’ survey includes commodity price downturns, consolidation, company restructuring, environ-mental issues and the mismatch of short-term investor trends against long-term lead times in the industry.

Another issue identified was that prevailing cultures within the industry did not suit what was best for future sustain-ability.

“The industry must recognise there is more to life than a thorough technical understand-ing of mining operations,” Professor Lilly says.

With this in mind Professor Lilly sees part of his brief within various AIMM taskforces and committees as promoting the professional development of industry players who can then better communicate to the ‘outside world’ what the minerals exploration and mining industries are doing and hence improve their public image.

Professor Lilly also believes university programs can help here.

Part of what’s needed, he says, is to firstly attract gifted students into mining industry courses. Both undergraduate and post graduate courses must then offer not only technical training, but also units in organisational behaviour and management issues.

And there is one further issue Professor Lilly is keen to see addressed during his time as a director of the AIMM.

While the minerals industries are accustomed to cycles in commodity pricing and explor-ation spending, these make human resource management difficult, particularly in the area of exploration employment,

and hence create the imperative for ongoing skills develop-

ment in better people manage-ment.

“This is an important issue”, Professor Lilly says. “How can the industry and the AIMM and all the professionals in the industry manage this process a little better? Are there better ways of employing people to try to smooth these things out? That’s one of the main challenges, I think, for the industry as a whole.”

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