Rick Menell gives an interview and chats about the birth and development Anglo Vaal Corporation, how he became a geologist, his stint as a Wall Street banker, outlook on South Africa and some advice to young geologist. The interview is shared here as a play list of short videos. He is a 35 year mining veteran that headed the Anglo Vaal Corp and Teal Exploration amongst other things. There is a brief biography included below. Enjoy the video and the weekend!
‘Rick Menell “trained as an exploration geologist and worked as an investment banker with JP Morgan in New York and Melbourne. He also worked as an executive director of Delta Gold in Australia. He worked with Anglovaal Mining from 1992 – 2006, becoming CEO in 1999 and executive chairman in 2002 before his current position at Teal Exploration & Mining, Inc. He is also deputy chairman of Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited, Chairman of the South African Tourism Board, a director of the Standard Bank Group and Mutual & Federal, and chairman of Village Main Reef Gold Mining Company (1934) Limited. He is a director of the Chamber of Mines where he was president from 1999 to 2001. Richard Menell was appointed a Weir Group “non-executive director in April 2009. Richard was previously an investment banker with JP Morgan in New York and Australia and an executive director of gold producer Delta Gold in Australia. He returned to South Africa in 1992 to join the Anglovaal Group and was appointed chief executive of Anglovaal Mining in 1996 and executive chairman in 2002. He was president and chief executive of TEAL Exploration & Mining Inc from 2005 until 2008. He was also formerly chairman of Avgold Ltd (1996-2004) and Bateman Engineering BV (2005-2009) and director of Mutual & Federal Insurance Company Ltd (1996 -2010) and Standard Bank Group Ltd (1997-2011). Richard is currently a director of Gold Fields Ltd in South Africa and a senior advisor to Credit Suisse. He is a fellow of the Geological Society (London), and both the Australasian and South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.’
Keep the grey heads near!
My first assignment as a young geologist was to the core yard of a platinum mine on the Bushveld Complex. I was the apprentice and my “master” was one from the old school. He’d been resident on the mine for near on 25 years. His figure under the tin roof of the logging area with head tilted over the core trays, cigarette in hand, in his daily uniform of faded jeans, safety boots and washed-out khaki shirt, represented an era nearing an end. A time when entire drillholes were logged on the back of a Stuyvesant 30 packet, before databases and remote sensing.
I read an article this week which made me think back on the time that I had under my “master”. It quotes a number of older generation geologist, snippets of their opinion of the profession, the value of experience and what they deem important and it recalled my memory of the many invaluable moments I had experienced while spending time in the field and core yard with the old grey-headed geo.
He kept a notebook and clino-ruler with him wherever he went, meticulously recording every observation. He new the facies variations on the mine better than anyone and instinctively new the expected depth of reef intersection without fail. He could recall from memory intersections from boreholes drilled 10 years ago, their location, the ground conditions and the reef type. He knew the rocks.
Through spending time with him, working, drinking coffee, staring at core in silence and driving around in the field ‘bakkie’ I learnt some of the most valuable insights and observed key skills in action, and hopefully picked some up! Most importantly we started a friendship. One skill that almost certainly separates the old timers is being able to filter through the clutter and data and in an instant identify what is important and essential.
If you are a young geo, go find the old timers around you and follow them around. Have coffee in the morning together, hover over drill core, and be a friend. In a time when our culture increasingly pushes the elderly and the wise to the fringes of our society you will find such a friendship invaluable to both you career and you personhood.