Meet Stuart Swapp who has recently joined Datamine Australia as a Principal Mining Consultant. Stuart brings over 15 years of experience in the mining industry in both open pit and underground operations. Get to know him a little better through the interview below:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a mining engineer with over 15 years’ experience in the industry. I arrived at mining through a non-traditional path of first completing a Master’s degree in Physics followed by working as an accountant for RSM and training for the ACA. It was only after moving to Australia that I discovered mining and fell in love with the subject from the get-go.
I gained my first mining role with St Barabara Ltd, working residentially at Marvel Loch underground. With my extremely limited exposure to mining I confess I had a very steep learning curve. However, I was fortunate to work under some fantastic people who guided me through my early years, many of whom I remain in contact with today.
Armed with operational experience I was then given the opportunity to work with Rick Stroud and Karl Van Olden at Optiro. It was here that I glimpsed the other end of the mining business, of studies and project valuations – I was hooked.
A chance encounter then led to my next position which lasted nearly 11 years. Working for Shane McLeay at Entech, I honed my problem-solving skills through numerous studies, gaining experience in many commodities and mining methods (both underground and open pit).
Which brings us to today. After over a decade working on studies, I was seeking a fresh challenge. As I’d always enjoyed using the software and had a great respect for the team, I was overjoyed when Jonathan Graham invited me to join Datamine.
Can you explain some of the challenges you consult to your clients on in a few sentences and how you help them improve?
I think many would agree that understanding the problem is key to finding the right solution. With so many moving parts it is easy to become lost in the detail when building an overall picture. I have found the simplest way to resolve this is to get the right people into the same room to share their understanding and then realistic outcomes can be set. By ‘setting the board’ it then becomes much simpler to see the most appropriate path forwards.
What inspired your career in this industry?
My passions have always been in the fields of Physics and Mathematics, however, after graduating in the UK in 2002, I’d had my fill of academia. It was serendipitous that I met my wife to be who was Australian. We emigrated to Australia in 2005 and it was then that I learned of the opportunities in mining. It turned out to be a perfect fit of theory applied in a real-world setting.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your role / the work you do?
I love problem solving. This turns out to be a pre-requisite for almost every job I’ve worked on as every project seems to have its own unique set of challenges. Wrestling a problem into shape and working with others to derive the best outcome, an outcome that is then executed and provides jobs for a community gives me a great sense of pride.
What are your best memories from your career?
Aside from the many lifelong friendships, one of the most exciting memories I have are of designing/charging/timing/blasting the ‘core and shell’ mass blasts at Marvel Loch UG ((PDF) Marvel Loch – Core and shell mass blast (researchgate.net)). A multi-directional multi-level blast was used to extract the ‘shell’ breaking circa 400,000t of material in a single shot. Re-entering the mine and seeing every draw point filled was a definite high point.
What’s a fun fact about you?
Growing up in Wales I loved the outdoors – This led to me undertaking a three-week expedition through west Iceland’s mountains and glaciers.