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Meet Laurence, one Doctor – two roles, many hats

Residing in Kalgoorlie, in the heart of the Goldfields region of Western Australia, Dr Laurence Dyer is truly a man that wears many hats.

Laurence is the Technical Advisor for the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub (Kal Hub), an initiative of the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE). He is also a husband, father to two young boys, cricketer, golfer and happens to be the Discipline Lead for Metallurgical Engineering at Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines (WASM).Laurence_Dyer_2.JPGDr Laurence Dyer

Balancing two specialist roles at the Kal Hub and WASM is an interesting task according to Laurence, particularly on Kal Hub projects run in partnership with Curtin University, where a challenge is to work out where one role ends, and another begins.

“The multitasking can be challenging and balancing the workload from both sides to try and keep all of the balls in the air hasn’t been easy. We’ve managed so far with good support from Curtin colleagues but also close attention from CRC ORE,” Laurence said.

“It’s a challenge at times, other times it’s actually easier knowing what’s happening on both sides of the equation.”

“Father and husband are the other large hats I’m trying to do justice to as well, but you’ll have to ask my wife how I’m doing on that front!”

Now educating some of the brightest minds in mining and engineering, when determining in what field he himself wanted to study, Laurence chose his bachelor’s degree based on knowing he was ‘fairly good at science’.

“I was looking for an interesting course, so I ended up in Nanotechnology at Curtin University, which gave me a useful mix of chemistry and physics,” he said.

Laurence’s PhD project was his first real taste of metallurgy and the wider mining industry, being a chemistry project based on a zinc hydrometallurgy operation. His supervisor suggested applying to the University of British Columbia for a Postdoctoral Fellowship and his conversion (in focus, if not in name) was complete.

Fast forward a few years and in his capacity as a lecturer at WASM, Laurence’s name was put forward for a scoping project to examine establishing a mining innovation hub in Kalgoorlie.

“I had no idea what the hub was or what the thinking was behind it, but as the hub project proceeded it was clear that there was a lot of drive to make it successful and a lot of scope to service the industry and region in general,” he said.

“I love teaching and the research we do at WASM, more than I thought I would to be honest. I had no intention of giving that away but the opportunity to get more involved with industry and community through the Kal Hub was also too good to pass up.”

Once the Kal Hub was established, Laurence jumped at the chance to join the team as Technical Advisor, a role he has embraced since 2018. He is now heavily involved with core hub projects including a high priority Integrated Screening and Particle Sorting project.

“This is a collaborative project between several mining participants looking at developing a testwork protocol for opportunity assessment around screening for grade by size, particle sorting and the combination of the two approaches,” Laurence said.

“It covers a range of aspects through sample selection and collection, screening practice, assaying, theoretical amenability to sorting, bulk sample sorting, integration of datasets and value estimation.”

“In addition to this, we have smaller projects on various aspects of Grade Engineering and are developing opportunities on regional challenges. We are also working with the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder to promote it as a premier destination for companies to operate.”

“I see one of the Kal Hub’s main functions is to be an interface aiding the penetration of valuable research outcomes to the industry to generate genuine value for companies, particularly those in the Goldfields region.”

Edging towards being able to call himself a local after residing in Kalgoorlie for more than six years, Laurence says it’s his fellow residents that are the best part of living in Kalgoorlie, followed closely by the lifestyle of the regional Western Australian mining community.

“As soon as you become engaged with the community, you’ll never have an excuse to be bored or lonely,” he said.

“The lifestyle is fantastic as well, everything is close and easy to get to, allowing me to spend more time with my family. The town is really well set up for raising kids.”

When asked what is the most valuable lessons that working at the Kal Hub has taught him, Laurence said it’s not to make assumptions and that there’s no substitute for talking to people.

“You can’t assume what people know, have tried, are doing, or their perspective on things… just because it makes sense to you or even seems obvious it doesn’t make it reality. There’s always a good chance you don’t have the whole picture and there’s a reason for it not being the case,” he said.

“Understanding why things are the way they are is a crucial first step to trying to move forward.”

Looking ahead, Laurence sees the Kal Hub having a bright future with deep connection to the local community and the wider mining industry.

“Ideally, having formed a network of stakeholders through proven outcome delivery, the Kal Hub will be one of the first stops for industry problems, research ideas and outcomes and supplier technology in the region.

“There is a plethora of stumbling blocks in taking proven research outcomes and equipment designs to full implementation. Inability to overcome these leads to the demise of many projects that may have represented genuine value. The Kal Hub will hopefully assist in navigating some of these challenges.”


 More information on the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub can be found at kalhub.com.

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