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Leadership in the mining sector

Leadership in the mining sector

Mining industry leaders are responsible for diverse, skilled teams. They must be technically adept and have a high level of emotional intelligence. 
Great leaders in the mining industry have the experience, confidence and courage to support and guide their teams to achieve success. Explore our collection of tips, articles, and resources that will allow you to get the best out of yourself and your team.
Image left to right: Owen Hegarty, Laura Tyler and Sandeep Biswas

Leadership lessons from mining greats

In 2017, Stratum International’s Will Coetzer interviewed high-profile mining leaders and identified seven leadership themes that were mentioned by all or most of the interviewees, and their lessons still hold true today. Read our condensed list below or check out the full article on the AusIMM Bulletin website.

1. Mentors and experience

Stratum’s earlier research report, The Lost Leaders, revealed a haemorrhaging of leadership talent from our industry, because of either baby boomers hitting retirement age, reduced levels of loyalty, or mining companies taking a myopic (or in some cases desperate) decision to shed senior talent. The potential value of older leaders as mentors is often overlooked when such decisions are made.

2. Hard work

Those who have any illusions that the pathway to leadership success is easy would have been disabused of that notion by listening to any one of my conversations. The management cliché has it that we should all work smarter rather than harder. My personal observation is that to get truly established, it is necessary to do both.

3. Hands-on experience

The understanding of how the industry works that is developed in operations cannot be replaced in the classroom and can be critical in establishing leadership credibility.

4. Patience

The impatience to fast track into leadership and expect instant success was also seen as a great weakness in an industry where a change in cycles and fortunes can take a decade. In my experience, the most successful mining professionals are those who use the quieter periods that come in any career to extend their network and develop their skills.

5. Mistakes

Experience tells us that any career will have its fair share of mistakes, and all the people I interviewed were open about their mistakes and positive about the learning they gained. The mining industry should inherently understand the need to explore, test and analyse success and failure and apply the learning.

6. Communication

Clarity of communication can help to secure opportunities that might otherwise pass you by. David Netherway’s clarity of vision and purpose not only impressed his employers, it also placed him firmly on the track to leadership.

7. Nurture talent

Leaders encourage and support talent as a way of ensuring their own success. Just as the participants in this research had benefited from mentors in their own careers, each one has been generous in helping the next generation of leaders to succeed.

Free resources for leaders


The careers website publishes a number of articles focused on people leadership and what it takes to be a great leader

TED Talks

The TED site hosts a large selection of short, inspiring talks on leadership (and much more) from a variety of globally-recognised speakers

Harvard Business Review

Non-subscribers can still access a limited number of articles from this world-leading publication on leadership and management

Australian Institute of Company Directors

AICD offers a number of free tools on their website aimed at those serving on boards.

Leadership tips

A leadership book for technical professionals

Being a skilled technical professional and a skilled leader are two different things: something Don Gordon FAusIMM understands well.

In his book from Technocrat to Leader, Gordon distils the lessons he has learned on his way from being a mining engineering graduate to holding numerous leadership and senior management roles.

We sat down with Gordon to discuss his book and the key themes it covers.

Leadership in action

Mining leaders committed to making a difference.

Bulletin feature

Building trust and respect through action

Sandeep Biswas, one of Australia’s leading mining company executives, says getting social licence right is just one of the issues the industry must address for greater success in the future.

Bulletin feature

Creating a high-performance culture

Laura Tyler, BHP’s Chief of Geoscience and Asset President at Olympic Dam, believes firmly that culture is the keystone for high performance.

Bulletin feature

Setting the path for success

Owen Hegarty, one of this country’s most experienced mining identities, believes Australia can – and should – set professional standards for the industry worldwide.

Other leadership recommended reading

Adapting to COVID-19: eight key areas for mining leaders

AusIMM Bulletin, April 2020 With the onset of COVID-19, the mining sector has needed to redefine its principal risks. Leaders have refocused to ensure the health and safety of their workforce and the ongoing stability of their operations.

Seven considerations for aspiring directors

AusIMM Bulletin, March 2019 Taking a board role can enhance your career, but before becoming a director it’s important to fully understand your role and responsibilities.

Further AusIMM leadership resources

Chartered Professional program

Become accredited and be recognised for your dedication, expertise and commitment to high standards of conduct


AusIMM’s program provides a structured, sustainable mentoring process for people looking to take the next step in their careers


Prepare the next generation of leaders by encouraging new professionals to apply for one of AusIMM’s scholarships


Celebrate and recognise others for their outstanding leadership through the AusIMM Awards program

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