The Geoconferences AGM was held on 12 December 2007 following deferral of the AGM at the Geoconferences meeting in Kalgoorlie on 26 September 2007, and the following annual report was prepared by the Chairman, Dr Tim Griffin.
On the 20th anniversary of Geoconferences (1987-2007) it is very pleasing to see that the significant up-turn in the resources sector I commented on last year has continued through 2007 and, despite greater levels of exploration expenditure, the statistics indicate WA is finally increasing its share of the Australia. The gold sector still not at past levels and has been overtaken by iron ore as the commodity attracting the largest spend on exploration.
The reason for deferring the AGM was because of the work load associated with our Kalgoorlie ’07 Old Ground New Knowledge Conference, that focussed on the Yilgarn Craton. It was held at the WMC Conference Centre, Kalgoorlie, between 25 and 27 September, 2007.
The great success of Kalgoorlie ’07 was a significant achievement for Geoconferences this year, and particularly for Kevin Cassidy, Jon Hronsky and the organizing committee, especially considering the work pressure all are experiencing during the continuing resources boom. As usual the registrations were a little slow but there was a rush at the end and were very close to the 300 participant limit for the WMC Conference Centre. What was particularly pleasing was the energy of the speakers and the high scientific content of their presentations. This was reflected in the audience remaining engaged all the way to the last talks on the third day. The large number of new young geologists augurs well for the future of geology, not only in the Yilgarn, but for the whole of Western Australia.
It addition to the excellent talks, the field trips were very well received. Special thanks to the field trip leaders, as many of us know how much time and commitment goes into making them successful. The one lecture theatre with six themes getting half a day each (Craton Evolution, Metallogeny, Landscape Evolution, Applied Technology, Mineral Systems, and Targeting) with invited keynote speakers, worked well. A feature of the conference each day were the debates before lunch which also seem to have been well appreciated.
Another message I’m receiving from both Kalgoorlie ’07 and in general conversation is the renewed interest in doing basic geology, in terms of grassroots exploration through to orebody delineation. This may be partly due to the scarcity or cost of drill rigs and blanket soil sampling, but there is also the realization that understanding the heterogeneity of an orebody may be more enlightening than assay numbers. Mineralogy, alteration haloes and vectors to ore need to be understood. The other interesting outcome of these more buoyant times is the discovery of new mineralized environments as explorers start to apply fresh models with new eyes both in brownfield and greenfield areas.
Once again Geoconferences is proud to sponsor the Australian Student Mineral Venture (ASMV) program in Western Australia to the value of $3500. As noted previously, Su Ho has handed the reins to Ben Strong, an ex-ASMVer. Su noted in recent correspondence she has met other ex-ASMV students and is very pleased to see that they have now graduated and work in the resources industry. But what is particularly gratifying is that ex-ASMVers are contributing in a voluntary capacity to safety and health, and promotion of the mining industry. The capacity of ASMV to bring talented people into our industry when it is facing serious skill shortages should not be under estimated, and is deserving of our support.
Financial support of $3500 was also provided to ESWA (Earth Sciences WA) as another worthy and well run organization focussed on attracting more students into earth science, primarily through a major role in developing and providing class material for teachers presenting a new course in Environmental and Earth Sciences at years 11 and 12.
Geoconferences has provided $10,000 each to Curtin and UWA to support geological field trips. Field skills are a critical part of geological training and an area that university departments find difficulty to fund. It is complementary to our Travel Grants, which provide benefit to specific individuals, while the field support has the added advantage of benefiting a wider group
I would like to welcome John and Peta Libby to the Geoconferences committee. Early indications are that they bring a lot of enthusiasm and a range of new ideas from working at providing expert geological services to the resources sector.
It is with regret that we accept Dr Su Ho’s resignation as secretary. Su has played a critical role and been of great assistance to me as Chairman through her commitment to promoting new geological concepts to industry and academia, supporting students, and being so well organized and efficient in dealing with Geoconferences business. Su will stay on as a committee member so we will all continue to benefit from her good natured approach to difficult issues and her capacity to kept easily distracted committee members focussed on the issues at hand.
Now that Kalgoorlie ’07 is over we must begin the detailed planning for 5IAS (5th International Archean Symposium) in 2010. This will be a challenge, and could be the biggest conference we have taken on if the resources sector continues to move forward at anything like its current pace.
In the meantime the JH Lord Travel Grants subcommittee will continue working to ensure Geoconferences is playing a valuable role in supporting the students at university to broaden their experiences and meet geologists with similar interests by attending conferences and field trips.
Thanks to John Bunting, as Treasurer, who has had a busy year with Kalgoorlie ‘07, and to Jocelyn Thomson who has ensured we meet and deal with the critical issues that allow us to enjoy the scientific stimulus that comes from meetings such as Kalgoorlie ‘07.
The success of Kalgoorlie ‘07 from a scientific outcome indicates that we are meeting the challenge of ensuring Geoconferences remains relevant in these rapidly changing times, particularly to younger geoscientists who are necessary to sustain the resources sector.