Dr Aaron Power
After completing an undergraduate degree at The University of Queensland, Aaron studied his MPhil (Mining) at the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC), finishing in 2008. He has been able to apply his knowledge to his current role in a company specialising in construction of coal handling plants.
Describe your current role
I am a Group Leader for Process Engineering at Sedgman Limited—a Brisbane-based mining services company with international offices in China, Mongolia, Africa and South America. In my area, we specialise in designing, constructing and operating coal handling and preparation plants. The company also provides similar services in the metals/ minerals processing industry.
As Group Leader I manage six engineers with varying levels of experience as well as performing a lead process engineering role for development of new Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) projects from initial concept study through to detailed engineering, construction and commissioning.
How has your SMI research experience helped you?
My thesis was titled Investigation of k-SB Flotation Model in Fine Coal Flotation and examined whether the k-SB relationship found in base metal flotation was also evident in coal flotation, including non-conventional flotation technologies.
During the test work phase of my thesis I was able to get good hands on experience at mine sites which I was able to build on after I left.
While I was at the Centre I had the opportunity to work with other students on the AMIRA P9M project which researched flotation methods in mines and included field trips to base metal plants in Tasmania and Broken Hill. This provided the research background and techniques to help me carry out the testwork for my project, performed at coal operations in Queensland and New South Wales. Again, this exposure to real mine sites, together with the technical aspects of the testing gave me a good foundation for the types of projects I’ve worked on since.
I was also lucky enough to meet my wife during my time at JKMRC. She was a postgrad student there and we got married in 2007.
What have been your career highlights so far?
I’ve worked at Sedgman for over 10 years now which has given me the opportunity to be involved with some interesting projects in Australia and overseas.
This includes the commissioning of the Dawson CHPP project in 2007 (which at the time was the largest CHPP facility in the southern hemisphere) and the construction support and commissioning of Hail Creek I CHPP in 2003. This is where I gained the basis of my experience for most of my future work.
In 2008 I presented a paper at the 12th Australian Coal Preparation Conference, which I consider a career highlight because it was good to speak in front of my peers about my experience around coal preparation.
I have recently worked on a project in South Africa which was an eye opener in terms of working in another country (work methods, security and culture). It was also great to do some sightseeing during my time there (game parks, Cape Town and a very interesting tour of Soweto).
What are your ties with SMI and the Centre now?
My role is more focused on design and construction now, rather than detailed technical aspects, so I don’t have too much contact with the Centre. However, I think it would be good to have a SMI Alumni Program to make it easier to keep in touch with people who I studied with.