Former PNG Prime Minister visits the JK Centre

4 Oct 2011

On Friday 23 September 2011, the Director of the JKMRC Professor Geoff Gault hosted a visit to the JK Centre by Sir Rabbie Namaliu, a former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. The Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade sponsored the visit, with the primary purpose being Sir Rabbie delivering the inaugural PNG Independence Day address at Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra on 20 September 2011.

Sir Rabbie is on the Board of a number of companies, including Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) which is funding a postgraduate scholarship at the JKMRC to recognise the contribution that Don Vernon made to PNG business. The late Donald Vernon joined the Bougainville Copper project team in 1966 as Manager with responsibility for exploration and metallurgical testing. He later became General Manager,Managing Director and Chairman of BCL. He also became a Director of CRA (now Rio Tinto) and in 1980 Don organised the first meeting of the Australia PNG Business Council (APNGBC). He became its first president and later its patron. In 2011, Chris Akop was awarded this prestigious scholarship and has embarked on his MPhil degree working on a flotation project at the JKMRC. Chris has a BE in Mineral Processing from the PNG University of Technology in Lae and has 5 years metallurgical experience.

The scholarship was awarded on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the APNGBC which Don Vernon founded. Sir Rabbie was a special guest at the award dinner.Sir Rabbie was accompanied on the visit to the JK Centre by Louisa Petralia (Executive Officer, Papua New Guinea and Torres Strait Section from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade) and Paul Coleman (General Manager, Rio Tinto PNG).Professor Chris Moran (Director of UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute) and Dr David Way (JKTech’s Operations Manager) joined the meeting along with Professor Geoff Gault for wide ranging discussions, particularly involving ways to enhance minerals related education in PNG. The photograph below depicts Chris Akop, Sir Rabbie Namaliu and Professor Geoff Gault in the foyer of the JKMRC Mineral Characterisation Research Facility