Mike’s career began in 1985. After graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering (Mining) at the South Australian Institute of Technology (now the University of South Australia), Mike kicked off his mining adventure in the Western Mining Company Graduate Program at Kambalda.
Mike’s first job after completing his underground and shift supervising time was organising the tender, design, approvals and mining of the Widgiemooltha 3 Deposit Open Pit Mine. He was thrown in the deep end at the beginning of his career, but the challenging experiences prepared him for his first Underground Manager job at Lancefield Gold Mine, Laverton, in 1993. It was up and up from there!
Mike’s first stint at Macmahon was just a few years later, in 1996, as a Project Manager at a unique underground mine in Bendigo. The project involved managing ground vibration challenges, monitoring air pressure from blasting and noise control to operate in an urban environment with the closest neighbour just 70 metres away from the decline.
Over his career, Mike has worked across Australia at Kambalda, Laverton, Leinster, Norseman, Bendigo, Ravensthorpe, Mt Gordon, Newmont Tanami, Brisbane, and Melbourne. He’s worked for companies including Ravensthorpe Nickel, Aditya Birla, HWE, Mining One Consultants and Beaconsfield Mining Board, as well as boutique mining companies and contractors.
In 2012, Mike took on one of his most challenging roles, COO at Mancala Mining Contractors. Mancala is a boutique mining contractor specialising in raise drilling, engineering, and construction mining. During his decade-long tenure, Mike worked on a residential access tunnel in Sydney Harbour, rehab work at Tas Hydro’s underground power stations, raise drilling projects in the Bowen Basin and Hunter Valley and the Ban Phuc nickel project in Vietnam.
Mike returned to Macmahon in October 20232. He could see significant growth on the horizon for the company and wanted to be a part of it. When the General Manager for Underground role became available, Mike jumped at the opportunity and was happy that the friendly and collaborative work culture and strong company values he remembered from the nineties were still present.
Macmahon genuinely focuses on improving our client’s business which I think sets us apart in the industry, which was also a factor that contributed to my returning.”
Mike brings a consultative approach to leadership. He values honesty and encourages his team to share their opinions. That’s why he likes Macmahon’s collaborative team environment, which can differ from the siloed approach of other companies. Mike also loves the friendly banter between colleagues.
Macmahon’s underground team are highly experienced with inhouse technical and engineering experts supported by an impressive array of up-and-coming talent with a real ability to step up.”
Mike’s long and diverse career means he brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership to our underground team. He believes one of the biggest challenges in mining is maintaining safety standards, but the advancements in technology, particularly geotechnical engineering, have improved the safety of mining environments.
Mike, of course, has an opinion on the underground vs. surface debate. He believes underground is challenging and keeps the mind active. It requires grit and tenacity but gives back plenty of opportunity, independence, and financial stability. However, Mike knows surface mining has come a long way since he started his career and has a whole new appreciation for it.
How do people transition from surface to underground? Mike believes you need to get a comparable role in an underground environment. An easy transition would be getting a truck operator role before moving on to the other equipment.
During his career, Mike has worked with various advances in technology. “The implementation of hydraulic electric drills, remote equipment and autonomous mining systems have had the most significant industry impact. Future technology that will help Macmahon’s clients to improve their blast results and eliminate production losses will come from QA/QC stope drilling and blasting along with the introduction of hybrid electric equipment.
I also see a real opportunity for the rebirth of shaft haulage to positively affect mine ventilation and truck haulage cost pressures in deep mines, helping clients realise the maximum value from their mineral resources. There are significant opportunities for growth in the industry, with ambitious targets being set for clean energy generation and electric vehicles, as evidenced by a significant number of new lithium projects in Western Australia alone and the expected growth in demand for minerals like nickel, manganese, copper, lithium, molybdenum, cobalt, gallium and germanium.”
Since moving to Western Australia, Mike has grown a green thumb and enjoys sprucing the garden in the 3.5-acre new home. He also loves to keep active and has put his leadership skills to the test by taking on the team captain role of Team Macmahon’s Cancer200 ride. Mike is motivating his team to raise 200K this year! We have no doubt Mike will smash the goal.