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Dr ian burston

  1. roysolder

    1,539 Posts.
    Mining runs in veteran's veins

    Ian Burston had just left a job with CRA, a predecessor to Rio Tinto, when he got a call from US mining executive Harry Conger.

    Conger's Homestake Mining Company was involved in an unprecedented project in Kalgoorlie and Mr Burston was targeted for the top role. He had plenty of experience in building and running mines and was never a man to shy away from an opportunity.

    "Conger called me up and said, 'Hey, we want to dig a bloody great big pit at Kalgoorlie - can you bugger off and do it'," Mr Burston, now 79, said.

    The former managing director of Hamersley Iron was appointed the first chief executive of Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines in 1989. He had already played key roles in mines at Paraburdoo, Tom Price and Dampier, but the Super Pit was different.

    "Kalgoorlie was a bit on its knees at that point and we thought, 'Well, we've got to get in here and revive this bloody town'," he said.

    "We did a lot of extra-curricular stuff. We planted trees at weekends, fenced the holes left by miners and moved the tourist mine to a much better location."

    By the time he left KCGM in 1993, his mining career had spanned decades.

    His experience and qualifications had led to various senior positions, most of them offered over a gruff, abrupt phone call.

    But post-KCGM, with the retirement age in sight, Mr Burston was thinking about his future.

    "I thought, 'I'm going to be 60 soon, I've got five years in my pocket'," he said. "But, you know, what a joke."

    Since then, the Claremont father of three has sat on too many boards to list, from Fortescue Metals Group to the Broome Port Authority. His latest venture is Kogi Iron, a junior explorer with at least six billion tonnes of iron ore in Nigeria.

    He talks about every aspect of the project, from the social climate to the impurities in the ore, with an enthusiasm that defies his age.

    The Burstons have a holiday home in Margaret River - but for now, that can wait.

    "I want to see this job through," Mr Burston said. "I've got a lot of shareholders depending on it and the right thing has to be done."

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