15/02/2021 - 15:30

Vale Roy Woodall

15/02/2021 - 15:30

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Well-regarded earth scientist and former Western Mining Corporation director Roy Woodall has passed away at the age of 90.

Vale Roy Woodall
Roy Woodall's mining career spanned more than six decades. Photo: Shane McLendon

Earth scientist and former Western Mining Corporation director Roy Woodall has passed away at the age of 90.

Mr Woodall’s career in the mining sector spanned more than six decades, the majority of which was spent establishing Western Mining Corporation as one of the most successful exploration companies in the world before it was aquired by BHP in 2005.

His four-decade stint with the company began while he was enrolled in a science degree at the University of Western Australia, after picking up a holiday job working as a geologist.

Mr Woodall was offered a full-time role after completing his honours degree in 1953 and, after completing his master's degree at the University of California, served as the company’s assistant chief geologist, chief geologist, exploration manager and the director of exploration between 1957 and 1995.

His start with the company began at the same time as the Melbourne-based gold miner began to diversify, partnering with the Aluminium Company of America in 1961 to further its bauxite exploration project in the Darling Range.

His scientific approach to exploration was credited with contributing to the discovery of the Kambalda Nickel Field in 1962, uranium at Yeelirrie and the Olympic Dam copper-gold-uranium deposit in the 1970s and the East Spar oil-condensate field.

He also made great contributions to the sector as a whole, authoring 15 publications on mineral exploration and serving as a member of the Australian Science and Technology Council, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, the Geophysical Association of Australia, and the Royal Society of Western Australia.

Those contributions earned him many accolades, including Officer of the Order of Australia, the Australian Academy of Science’s Mawson Medal, the Silver Medal of the Society of Economics Geologists, and the AIME William Lawrence Saunders Gold Medal.

Last year, the Australian Geoscience Council launched the Roy Woodall Medal in his honour, an award that recognises scientific excellence in both mineral exploration and the documentation of world-class mineral deposits.

Leading Australian mining forum Diggers & Dealers chair Jim Walker commended Mr Woodall on his instrumental role in the discovery and development of many of Australia’s commercially important mineral deposits and said he had left a lasting legacy.

“Roy could be found deep in conversation with his fellow geologists at almost every Diggers & Dealers Mining Forum over the event's 29-year history,” he said.

“We were privileged to hear Roy speak at the 2018 gala dinner, when he was inducted into the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Walk of Fame. 

“The Woodalls are considered part of the Diggers family and we will miss Roy dearly in the years ahead.”

Mr Woodall passed away in Adelaide yesterday.

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