Our stories

Since our beginnings in outback North West Queensland, many people from Australia and around the world have been part of the Mount Isa Mines journey.

From the heartfelt to the historic, the inspiring to the extraordinary, their stories have helped shape our business into what it is today.

Maryann Wipaki

The active pursuit of improving and sustaining safety performance has been a core value for Queensland Metals’ Maryann Wipaki.

Read Maryann's story

Alf Maconchie

Alf Maconachie walked into the Copper Refinery site for the first time in 1986. Thirty-six years on, he reflects on his memories and highlights.

Read Alf's story

Lucy Barrie

Lucy Barrie kick-started her career by joining the Glencore Vacation Employment Program in 2018.

Read Lucy's story

Daisy Umbach

Daisy Umbach’s career with Mount Isa Mines continues to go from success to success.

Ready Daisy's story

Chelsea McKavangh

From working at Glencore to competing in and coaching community sport, Chelsea McKavanagh is working hard and playing fair.

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Clynton Munns

As Coordinator of the Indigenous Employment Program for Mount Isa Mines, Clynton is a training professional whose career spans 19 years in the resources industry.

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Mikayla McKenna

Mikayla McKenna is a Graduate Metallurgist based at the Copper Refineries Limited (CRL) in Townsville who has successfully made her way into resources through our pathway programs.

Read Mikayla's story

John Bright

'Brighty', as his colleagues affectionately call him, shares why he has loved working at Mount Isa Mines for the last 52 years and why he won’t be exchanging his 4825 postcode anytime soon.

Read John's story

In February 1923, while travelling across Queensland’s dry Gulf Savannah, prospector John Campbell Miles discovered one of the richest known zinc-lead seams in the world.

Over the course of two months, Miles pegged out the Racecourse lease in the area surrounding the outcrops. He named the larger outcrop Mount Isa, claiming 17 hectares that would become one of the most productive single mines in history.

On 19 January 1924, Mount Isa Mines Limited was established and became one of Australia’s most iconic and enduring natural resources companies. It heralded the birth of a community that has prospered alongside operations and is central to the mines long-term success.

Miles lived to the age of 82. Shortly before he passed away in December 1965, members of his family credit him with saying, “If only I could go back to my country [Mount Isa] I would be alright.”

Miles’ ashes were returned to Mount Isa and are buried under the clock tower which now stands in the centre of Miles Street.

John Campbell Miles, aged 80, visited Mount Isa in 1962.

John Campbell Miles with Miss Industry at the North West Queensland Trade and Industries Fair Mount Isa, 1962.

The unveiling of John Campbell Miles’ Memorial by Alex Inch in 1968.

Portrait of John Campbell Miles.

Dr Julius Kruttschnitt arrived in Mount Isa in 1930 in his trademark suit and tie. He had just been appointed General Manager of Mount Isa Mines, marking the beginning of a 37-year career with the company. At first, the Yale University alumni was not fully prepared for what he was getting himself into as head of the fledgling mining company, writing, “To my consternation I found on my arrival, a condition bordering on bankruptcy...” in 1930.

With hard work and funding from the United States, the first lead bullion was produced by June 1931, with the business showing a profit in 1937. That same year, Kruttschnitt was promoted to Chairman of Mount Isa Mines.

Kruttschnitt showed a great interest in the welfare of miners and their families. The unique Mount Isa tent house, a timber framed house with a canvas roof under a free-standing galvanised iron roof, was one of the many developments of his time. It was a cheap and sustainable way to provide housing to company employees.

In 1946, Kruttschnitt was awarded the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy medal in recognition of his outstanding services to the mining industry in Australia. In 1962, he was awarded the English Institute of Mining and Metallurgy gold medal.

Retiring as Chairman of Mount Isa Mines in 1953, Kruttschnitt remained on the board until 1967. He was also a board member of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Queensland from 1954 to 1962.

In 1971, the University of Queensland granted him an honorary Doctorate of Engineering, and Mount Isa Mines presented the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre to the university in his honour.

Julius Kruttschnitt, second from the right, at the 1931 official opening of the lead smelter.

Portrait of Julius Kruttschnitt.

Sir George Fisher is credited as being one of the few people responsible for Australia's mining boom and the economic strength it brought to Australia.

Fisher was initially appointed Deputy Chairman of Mount Isa Mines in January 1952, before being promoted to Chairman one year later. One of the first things he did upon arriving in Mount Isa was launch an intensive exploration program.

Within five years, Mount Isa Mines’ rate of diamond drilling increased more than fivefold and new reserves of copper and silver-lead-zinc were added to the company’s annual figures.

Within four years of his chairmanship, underground development at Mount Isa Mines had increased by 250 per cent. With this, came a period of rapid expansion of the Mount Isa community.

Fisher was a passionate visionary who wanted to see the community flourish. He believed opportunities for residents in Mount Isa should be equal to those available to people living in regional cities and in 1955 was quoted stating that, “The north is widely recognised as a place of great potential. It would be a tragedy if it were allowed to remain only this.”

Fisher spent 70 years in mining and was a founder and the first president of the Australian Mining Industry Council (now the Minerals Council of Australia) and a president of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

In 1961, he was made a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in recognition of his services to the Australian mining and metallurgical industries and for his outstanding contribution to decentralised industry in Queensland.

In 1967, Fisher was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, and in 2000 the Hilton North orebody was renamed George Fisher Mine in his honour.

In 2007, Sir George Fisher passed away at the grand age of 104.

Sir George Fisher was a passionate visionary who wanted to see the community flourish.

Sir George Fisher (right) with Sir George Francis Nicklin, Premier of Queensland at the opening of the new copper refinery in 1959.

Sir George Fisher against the background of K57/R62 headframe, a major item in the Mount Isa expansion programs for which he was responsible.

David Buchanan, Director Operations, farewells Sir George Fisher (left) in his retirement.

Sir James Foots had an impressive 32-year career with Mount Isa Mines.

Winning a scholarship to study at Melbourne University, Foots received a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering in 1937.

In 1955, he began his career at Mount Isa Mines as a mining engineer. He was promoted through the ranks to General Manager in 1956, then Managing Director in 1966, before being appointed Chairman and Chief Executive of Mount Isa Mines in 1970.

During this time, Foots presided over a vast expansion program, helping to grow Mount Isa Mines into one of Australia’s largest mining operations. Together with Sir George Fisher, Foots established himself as a driving force behind the company’s rapid expansion of copper and silver-lead-zinc production in the 1950s and 1960s.

Foots had a long history of contributions to the community, and was a towering figure in the creation of Australia’s post-war mining industry. He helped drive Mount Isa Mines to international greatness, and then led the company's difficult diversification into MIM Holdings.

In 1959, he initiated the enduring Mount Isa Rodeo, helped establish the internationally renowned Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre at Queensland University, and also played a key role in securing Expo '88 for Brisbane.

With foreign ownership and control an issue in the 1970s and 1980s, Foots is credited with navigating the sell-down by Mount Isa Mines' historical owner, Asarco.

In 1980, Foots was knighted for his contribution to the mining industry and the Australian business landscape. He retired in 1987 and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy that same year.

Mount Isa’s Grace Street bridge was named in honour of Sir James Foots in 2009.

Sir James Foots helped to grow Mount Isa Mines into one of Australia’s largest mining operations.

Sir James Foots opens the Garden Settlement of the Aged with Mrs Laura Johnson.