Tuesday, 31 March 2020
CEO Leadership Speaker Q&A: Mike Young, Managing Director & CEO, Vimy Resources
Austmine Limited

CEO Leadership Speaker Q&A: Mike Young, Managing Director & CEO, Vimy Resources

To start our CEO Leadership Lunch Series in 2020, Austmine is pleased to be hosting Mike Young, Managing Director & CEO, Vimy Resources in Perth on Thursday 11 February.

Vimy Resources is a Perth-based uranium development company with two major projects. They 100% own and operate the Mulga Rock Project in the Great Victoria Desert of Western Australia, which released a DFS in January 2018, confirming the Project’s robust financials and simple, low-cost mining process. They also own 78% of the Alligator River Project in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. The Alligator River Uranium Province is a world-class uranium area and one of the top three uranium districts in the world.  It is host to the Ranger and Jabiluka deposits.

Austmine caught up with Mike who provided some of his thoughts on leadership, current industry challenges, Vimy Resources’ projects and how uranium is the key to mining a cleaner tomorrow.

Effective Leadership

“You have to do the job because you love it.  And it’s about surrounding yourself with people who are better at what they do than you are; key people who share your vision.”

Effective leadership requires a strong connection with your team, taking the time to consult and listen. So that when you make those important decisions, the team feels they’ve contributed rather than just taking orders.

“If someone says, they work for me, I prefer to say instead, ‘no, you work WITH me’. I don’t like the boss-employee structure because I prefer a more inclusive leadership style.”

Mike has kept key leadership values at the heart of Vimy Resources, naming the company after a famous Canadian WW1 battle.  The Battle of Vimy Ridge was characterised by unity, co-operation, ingenuity, preparation, planning, flexibility and courage – values that have underpinned Vimy’s achievements. The name is also a nod to Mike’s Canadian heritage, and ancestry - he was born and educated in Canada and worked on uranium projects in Saskatchewan before coming to Australia in the 1980s.

Current Industry Challenges

There are quite diverse challenges facing Australian miners in 2020, including project approval timelines and issues around social perception.

One of the biggest challenges facing mining companies in Western Australia is the timeline for approvals and for Vimy Resources this has been a longer process which isn’t getting any shorter, according to Mike. He is advocating for less complexity, more transparency and accountability in the approvals process.

While social licence is increasingly important for mining companies as we move into the 2020s, there is still a lack of awareness on just how vital mining is to modern life. As a Board member of the Minerals Council of Australia, Mike strongly supports the MCA’s focus on how mining provides the resources for modern life, technology and business. He was recently involved in their excellent 30 Things booklet, which illustrates the everyday things that mining makes possible.

“There’s a negative view of the mining industry in some areas of the Australian community, which overlooks the industry’s role in providing essential aspects of all our lives – energy, transport, infrastructure and medicine – the things without which any modern society simply could not function.”

Mining a Cleaner Tomorrow

Mike emphasises that uranium’s potential to play a significant role in clean energy supply is becoming a major topic of discussion in the current climate change debate. 

“Uranium is a safe, clean 24/7 power source with zero carbon emissions and is set to shape the energy landscape of the future.”

Nuclear energy has been around for six decades and is a proven, safe source of power. Australia is currently the world’s third largest exporter of uranium, despite having the world’s largest share of uranium resources. Nuclear energy provides just over 10 per cent of the world’s electricity and last year resulted in about 2.2 billion tonnes of CO2, as well as particulate pollution, not being released into the atmosphere.

“The amount of CO2 we would offset by replacing coal with uranium is 13% of all of Australia’s emissions.  It is now widely accepted that without nuclear energy, we will not meet the IPCC and COP greenhouse gas targets.”

Nuclear is the only energy-producing technology that takes full responsibility for its own waste products. Mike quotes a fact from the US Nuclear Energy Institute, that all the used fuel produced by the commercial nuclear industry since the late 1950s would cover a soccer field to a depth of less than ten metres. Coal plants generate that same amount of waste every hour.

“The amount of waste produced is infinitesimally small because the power density of uranium is incredibly high.”

Vimy Resources Projects

Innovation has long been at the forefront of mining in Western Australia. Power generation is an area that may benefit from advanced technology and the company could look towards solar or wind power sources, something Mike finds amusingly ironic.

“Solar and/or wind farms are ideal on a remote site having a proven benefit in terms of cost and, importantly, also reducing the need to transport diesel fuel. Vimy has also invested significant time and effort in perfecting the resin technology used in the ion exchange circuit.”

Final Remarks

For anyone interested in learning more about uranium, the MCA has some fantastic resources on uranium and nuclear power including their recently released Untapped Potential and The Case For Nuclear Power booklet.

At the upcoming Austmine CEO Leadership Lunch hosted at Ashurst, Mike will be speaking about leadership opportunities and challenges, including mental health.  He will also let us in on the secret of the one thing that keeps him awake at night.

CEO Leadership Lunch Series

Austmine’s CEO Leadership Lunch series are exclusive events run for senior executives from our member companies. These lunches are limited to 30 attendees and involve a sit-down meal followed by a presentation from a senior mining executive.

Speakers share their own perspective and experiences as successful leaders in the mining industry and discuss industry challenges with attendees. As such, these events are an unparalleled opportunity for senior METS representatives to meet and share ideas with fellow mining & METS leaders.

For more information about the upcoming Austmine CEO Leadership Lunch featuring VIMY Resources, please click here.

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