For Justin Johns – who joined OceanaGold in 2010 and has worked at the Globe Progress Mine, Macraes Operation, Haile Gold Mine and Waihi Operation – OceanaGold is a career destination with real growth potential.
Justin Johns spent his whole childhood in Kalgoorlie but has spent most of his mining career in New Zealand.
Along the way, Justin has worked at almost every OceanaGold operation and found challenges and opportunities at every site.
“My Dad said to me ‘If you’re not going to study, you’ll just end up digging holes for a living’. I went to university in Western Australia and ended up with a degree in chemistry and back in Kalgoorlie working in a lab,” Justin said.
Justin said he soon realised that wasn’t for him and returned to study part time for two years at the School of Mines, while continuing to work full time, receiving a Diploma in Metallurgy.
“I had discovered my passion. The ability to create something out of rock,” he said.
Joining OceanaGold in 2010 as Process Manager at the Globe Progress Mine (now Reefton Restoration Project), Justin says that it was really special to develop a team that worked so well together to improve the plant year on year, whether from a tonnage or cost perspective.
“The Reefton site, high up in the Paparoa Range and looking out over the mountains is just awesome and making concentrate to be shipped by rail to the other side of the South Island to our Macraes mine was very different.”
Justin followed the concentrate, working in Dunedin and Macraes as Metallurgical Superintendent and Process Manager.
“The Macraes Operation is a well-established and far more complex site and also a really good place for a person entering the industry to get wide ranging experience in their trade or degree.”
“A comparatively old plant coupled with the complexities of the autoclave system was fascinating. Innovative technological solutions with computer systems and data management allowed us to provide end users with really useful information very quickly and for valid decisions to be made based on reliable information.”
Justin’s next move was to the Haile Gold Mine for three years, which he describes as “challenging, but very rewarding”.
“The site has variable ore sources, and the plant is complex and advanced, dealing with refractory gold and a very fine grind. There are many advanced control systems and there is the ability to link systems together to provide advanced plant control and reporting systems.”
Now back in New Zealand, and at the Waihi Operation, Justin says there are further opportunities to push learnings and technologies from other operations to further optimise ore processing at the mine.
“The main thing is building a high performing team. In the end, the technology is a tool, it’s the team who use that technology that’s really important.”
“OceanaGold is a ‘Goldilocks’ company. We are not too big and not too small – big enough to provide a significant opportunity to get exposure to many aspects of the industry, chase various career paths and work at different locations, but small enough to be innovative, to try things, to influence and direct change.”
“At OceanaGold, if you show you are willing to learn and put in a good effort, the scope is certainly there.”