The Groundwork

Raising awareness for tailings management in Australia

Kathy Tehrani – Senior Tailings Engineer

Kathy is a Senior Tailings Engineer at ATC Williams Brisbane office and a PhD scholar in Geotechnical Engineering at The University of Queensland. She is also a committee member of the Queensland Tailings Group (QTG) and Mine Waste Tailings Conference (MWT 2023).


Hi Kathy, tell us about some of the projects you are involved in currently.


The Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management has resulted in many clients needing governance support. I am working on an eight-month GISTM project for Anglo American Australia, where I am based full-time at their Brisbane office. However, I am in constant contact with the ATC Williams team, who are heavily involved in this project.


Previously, I was involved in dry stacking design for Gympie Gold Project in Queensland, which was also challenging and exciting. I enjoy working on various project types because I can acquire new skills and have opportunities to think out of the box. That’s what I learned during my PhD journey, and it gives me confidence when I am faced with a complex problem that I can go about solving the issues at hand.



What influenced you to become a tailings engineer?


When I was younger, I thought I might become a doctor, but ultimately, I became a doctor in geotechnical engineering! While undertaking a master’s degree at the Queensland University of Technology, my supervisor Prof David Williams sparked my interest in tailings. I am completing my PhD under his supervision. David’s work as an independent expert panel in Brazil’s Brumadinho dam failure disaster in January 2019 inspired me to join and actively participate in the Queensland Tailings Group programs.



Why do you volunteer your time for Queensland Tailings Group?


I am the Treasurer and External Communicator for QTG, which is very special to me. At QTG, we aim to get the industry and mining/geotech community’s support and trust. We also seek support for the primary purpose of the GISTM, zero harm to people and the environment, by organising high-quality seminars and networking events to increase knowledge and awareness about tailings management and tailings governance. We have over 2,500 followers, international members, and several industry sponsors. I am also helping with the AusIMM Mine Waste and Tailings Conference held in Brisbane from 12-14 July 2023.



What are you enjoying about working at ATC Williams?


Working is not just a way of earning money. As an immigrant with no family in Brisbane, spending almost half the day with supportive people who care about each other like family members, is really important. It was amazing when I saw the word ‘CARE’ on a poster of core values the day I went for my interview. Also, when I looked at the company’s LinkedIn, I saw that many employees had worked at ATCW for many years.



There are many opportunities at ATC Williams to apply the skills I am acquiring doing my PhD while simultaneously advancing my career. I have started doing visual summaries of technical papers and book chapters, which help me to learn more. So far, I have received good feedback from my colleagues at work, and when I post these to my LinkedIn, that encourages me to continue. The PhD work is both challenging and insightful. I am excited when I think about the crucial knowledge I will have gained a year from now and how I will be using this to contribute meaningfully to our tailings services work.



You can follow Kathy on  Linkedin here

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