Minister Celebrates Impact Of George Fisher

Queensland’s resources minister Scott Stewart has celebrated the life of Sir George Fisher as one of the state’s great miners and a man who has left a massive impact on Mount Isa.
Mr Stewart was speaking at the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy 41st Sir George Fisher Lecture in Townsville last week.
He said Mount Isa, Townsville and the whole state owed a great debt to Sir George Fisher, who was knighted in 1967
“Young George started his career as a mining engineer in Broken Hill, rose to become chairman of Mount Isa Mines, and spent 70 years in all in the industry,” Mr Stewart said.
“His achievements are vast and include founding what is now the Minerals Council of Australia and serving as national president of this Institute three times.”
Mr Stewart said the city of Mount Isa and in part Townsville were transformed under his leadership of MIM from the early 1950s.
“He was responsible for construction of Lake Moondarra, the largest private water storage project in Australia,” he said.
“He successfully negotiated with the State and Commonwealth Governments to have the Mount Isa to Townsville railway rebuilt. Under Sir George’s leadership, mine production at the Isa went from 1500 to 16,000 tons per day. Copper production went from zero to 100,000 tons per year, ready to go to 150,000 before he retired. Lead production was more than 100,000 tons. It was probably the largest lead and silver mine in Australia, and one of the largest in the world at the time. The copper was at number nine worldwide and reserves went from three million tons to 140 million tons.”
Mr Stewart said that under his leadership Mount Isa developed from 6000 people to more than 20,000 people and the MIM payroll went from seven million to 31 million pounds.
“There’s a mine at Mount Isa and a building here at JCU named after him,” he said.
“Sir George was a man of vision, who history shows could see the long-term: he recognised the importance of a stable workforce and built homes and facilities in Mount Isa, he improved health and safety to protect the lives and limbs of his workforce, he knew that exploration was the lifeblood of mining and invested in a large-scale exploration program, and he was an advocate of local downstream value-adding, and hence we have today the copper refinery here in Townsville today.”
Mr Stewart said Sir George would have supported the Palaszczuk Government’s Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan “because we recognise the need for vision for the next 30 years, and a plan for tangible goals and actions over five and 10 years to realise that vision.”
He said the government was focused on the next phase of development: our new economy minerals.
“Our North West Minerals Province is blessed with fantastic deposits of the minerals needed to power our transition to clean energy – copper, cobalt and rare earth elements,” he said.
“Our government is investing $23 million in our New Economy Minerals Initiative to help explorers discover new deposits of these minerals, and also to find secondary deposits, for instance, in tailings with new and emerging technologies.”
Mr Stewart also hailed North West Queensland’s “truly world class endowment” of vanadium, the important battery mineral.
“We’ve got several companies at various stages of getting vanadium mining operations off the ground near Julia Creek,” he said.
“The Government is working with them to facilitate common user infrastructure like a demonstration scale processing plant to allow them to prove their product and ultimately access markets.
“There’s huge potential in vanadium as demand for batteries increases globally as part of the energy transition and the global market is expected to more than double to $2.36 billion in 2025.
“The Government also wants to see that vanadium being used to manufacture vanadium redox flow batteries here, in the North, for export to national and world markets.”