Q&A with Project Director John Francisco
Question: Can you provide some insight into your experience in developing new mining projects and operations?
Answer: I have established four new mines from the ground up over my career and three of those I have also commissioned and developed to operational phase. Prior to joining the Fingerboards Project I was working on the Grande Cote minerals sands project in Senegal, West Africa when I first met Jozsef Patarica, Kalbar’s CEO. It’s a very rewarding experience brining a new team together and building a new mine.
Question: You grew up on an outback sheep and cattle station. What got you into mining?
Answer: I was raised on a 150,000-acre sheep and cattle station as a fifth generation grazing family and have always loved the land. I went into mining as a short-term plan due to droughts and a reversal of the wool industry, but my mining career seemed to just continue to develop which has now taken my wife and I all around the world. I have just moved to Bairnsdale with my wife Tanya and Bairnsdale is now our home. We intend to stay on into the operational phase of this project.
Question: What is happening currently while the Fingerboards Project is in the final stages of EES approval?
Answer: We are currently completing the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS). There is a lot going on with our geology infill drill programs, engineering and design, metallurgy laboratory test work, and then there is the construction and operational readiness work to ensure we are well prepared to commence construction if the Project is granted approval.
Question: How do you see the Fingerboards Project providing opportunities for local businesses and employment in the region?
Answer: Kalbar’s commitment is to utilise as many local suppliers and businesses from the region as possible. It has been quite encouraging as I have met a number of local businesses who have a great capability for our project. The principle is the same for local employment - we want to employ locally where we can for both the construction and operational phases. To date we have received a great deal of interest from local businesses and individual applicants looking for opportunities on the Project.
Question: Will Kalbar Operations have any employment pathway opportunities for school leavers entering the job market in the near future?
Answer: Kalbar is collaborating with Gippsland TAFE, Federation University and the Regional Infrastructure Working Group to identify opportunities for training and employment for school leavers in East Gippsland. We have employed one indigenous trainee from Bairnsdale Secondary College and more opportunities will be available in the future. I would encourage students keen to explore employment opportunities with Kalbar to visit our exhibit at the East Gippsland Field Days at Bairnsdale Aerodrome on 23-24 April 2020.