Morris Hansen (BS Geology, 1977)

Mining Exploration Manager in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Where to start? My first job in 1977, was with Shannon & Wilson as Bob Bentley's assistant on a summer field job. Jobs for geologists were far and few between in those days. So after finishing that job and with a bank full of money, no school for the first time in my life, I took off with Craig Dahl (BS '77) to travel the South Pacific and ended up in Australia.

Upon my return to Ellensburg, a year later, I sent out about 200 resumes which boiled down to a job with National Soil Services out of Dallas Texas. I worked in Eastern Texas and Louisiana as an Engineering Geologist before taking my first exploration job with Preussag Canada Ltd based in Vancouver, B.C. I worked at Lake Almanor in Northern California for the summer field season and lived in a company house on the lake - a tough life. We pretty much worked daylight to dark 7 days a week for 6 months, but loved every minute of it.

After the summer field season I decided to travel back to Australia. Whilst there I organized a job with CRA Exploration, one of the big 4 Exploration companies in Australia at that time. They agreed to sponsor me to migrate to Australia. So back to the US and apply. In the meantime, this is 1980, I got two months work in Alaska with WGM Inc on two projects, one for gold the other base metals. Upon my return to Ellensburg I waited another 4 months until I finally got the all clear from Australia to migrate and in February 1981, I sold up my worldly possessions and caught a plane to Sydney.

I traveled down to Melbourne to head office where I started work in May of 1981. I spent 3 months in the Victorian goldfields before the company sent me to the wilds of Papua New Guinea for 12 months, a totally new and fantastic experience. This really was the frontier. After the 12 months, I returned to Australia to a depressed market for geologists. A fellow geologist from PNG and myself set up a consulting firm in Melbourne and struggled for the next year. We managed to keep ourselves busy with work in Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and Indonesia on various projects.

Eventually I decided to go back to University and further my education, a much too familiar story during any mining downturn. I enrolled in the geology department of the University of New South Wales for a Masters degree in Hydrogeology and Environmental Science. The thought was to change direction in my career. After having sold my sports car to fund my further education and finishing all the course work for the degree, I decided I wasn't sure what to do my thesis on and was tired of being a poor student. The lure of employment in the West was too much and I took a job as a mine geologist with Western Mining Corporation who sent me to the middle of nowhere Western Australia. After a year there I moved to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia as the Exploration Manager to a small gold exploration company. I married my wife, we have two daughters and currently still live in Kalgoorlie.

During the next mining downturn, I left the mainstream mining industry to pursue an interest in movies. I took a job at the local cinema and learned projection eventually becoming the manager. During this time I continued my interest in geology by forming a private mining syndicate with a group of local businessmen. Over the next 3 years we acquired tenements and put them together into a package which we sold for a nice profit to a mining company. We used these funds to buy a gold mine which we also eventually sold. I continued my career in the movies but always keeping tabs on the mining industry.

The kids have grown up with one in hospitality in New Zealand and the other studying Agribusiness at university so I thought it time to get serious about my geology again. I took a job at the Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame in Kalgoorlie as an underground tour guide. It was a fantastic job. I met people from all around Australia and the world and got to talk geology and gold. Of course the inevitable occurred with another mining boom in Australia and an extreme shortage of experienced geologists, so back I went. I currently work for South African based gold miner Goldfields at St Ives Goldmine in Kambalda, Western Australia. We are the 5th largest gold producer in Australia. It's a great place to work and great people, however, the call to move on after 23 years in the goldfields of Western Australia was too great and in 2 weeks we are off to Tasmania for a new position with a small company on the West coast of Tasmania looking for Lead, Zinc and Silver.

Every where I have been with my profession would not have been possible if not for my time at CWU Geology. I didn't even know what geology was before I enrolled in that first course. I had been studying biology and decided that wasn't for me. I was working at the Holiday Inn at the time and my boss convinced me to switch to business. One quarter of that was enough. Fortunately, to graduate in business you still had to have natural science credits and a friend of mine suggested Physical Geology. He said the course was worth 5 credits and was great. I thought what the heck, 5 credits, I'll do it. Bob Bentley took that class and all this stuff about plate tectonics and how the Earth evolved, I was hooked. I never really looked at geology as a career that would get me to where I am today, but it surely has. If you happen to be traveling through Zeehan in Western Tasmania, stop in and have a chat and a cold Tassie beer.

Information last updated on Nov 8, 2010