Welcome to Austmine's New Chairman of the Board!
On 1 October 2015 the Austmine Annual General Meeting was held in Sydney, NSW. At our AGM, the new Board was elected and subsequently the new Board voted in the new Chair. Austmine's new Chair is Alexander Kachellek, Managing Director of Korvest.
Can you tell us about your time so far with Austmine?
I’ve been with Austmine for 7 years now, and during that time I have seen it change significantly as an organisation. There have been 5 Chairs in Austmine over the 26 years the organisation has been in existence. Alan Broome was Chair when I first joined Austmine and it was very export focused at that time, supporting Australian METS who wanted to begin or expand their export markets.
We found success in this model for quite some time, but with the arrival of initially the mining boom and then the GFC, which was followed quickly by a continuation of the mining boom this meant Austmine needed to adapt. The inauguration of Elizabeth Lewis-Gray as Chair followed the whole mining industry shifting during this time, where we saw the need for more minerals and the significant growth of Asia. The new state of play pushed Austmine to focus not just externally (export), but also internally (domestic) on business opportunities.
Coupled with this, there was a need for more information on the METS sector, as the government lacked knowledge about our industry. Austmine was the go-to organisation that could collate that data and inform the government on the size and importance of the sector in Australia.
Mining is a critical part of the Australian Economy and naturally the METS sector is a major part of that. The growth of Austmine through the mining boom years is not a surprise; as the mining industry expanded and evolved, so did Austmine. Now we have a downturn in the industry that has been going on for 18 – 24 months. It was largely unforeseen; some people were forecasting another 10 – 20 years mining boom. An old adage I use is “when things are up, they come down, when they’re down, they go up – you just don’t know when!” Certainly we’re in a downturn, but things will get better. We just don’t know when.
The METS sector can help the mining companies drive their improved safety and productivity, together with cost reductions in areas such as maintenance. We’ve got members well placed in all of those areas, and I see Austmine as helping companies through the downturn so that they can be profitable and even thrive in order to be ready for the next upturn in the mining cycle. It is critical that METS companies and the industry as a whole acts now during the downturn, rather than waiting for the next upswing, whenever that may be!
What have been the highlights for you in your role as Deputy Chair?
I have been Deputy Chair of Austmine for 18 months. During that time we’ve had many highlights. The success of the Austmine 2015 conference and exhibition in May 2015 in Brisbane was definitely one. Austmine’s role as a foundation partner at the IMARC 2014 conference in September 2014 in Melbourne would be another. Over the last two years we’ve seen significant membership growth, which is of course fantastic.
We’ve noticeably seen increased government collaboration over the last few years, which has been a lot of Elizabeth’s doing in her role as Chair. It also reflects a recognition of the work Austmine did in terms of surveys and data that allowed the government to understand how significant the METS sector is in the economy! They have responded positively to this understanding, as we see in the creation of the METS Industry Growth Centre and Elizabeth being asked to chair that. We see Austmine and the METS Industry Growth Centre working together for the future of the METS industry.
What is the focus for you over the next year in your role as Chair?
I am excited for the year ahead and pleased to welcome our two new board members, Patrick Smith of AMC and Peter Seligman of SRO Technology along with our very experienced board providing the backbone of continuity and knowledge. As a legacy from Elizabeth, I have a great executive team for Austmine, with Christine Gibbs Stewart doing a fantastic job as CEO. This means the Board and I can focus on creating a vision for the future of the METS sector that will benefit our members, our industry and our economy. I would view my role as strategically facilitating that vision, and can’t wait to get started.