The mining industry social event of the year returned in 2019 for Austmine’s 30th Birthday Celebration! Our prestigious awards recognise and celebrate the most innovative and successful METS and miners of the year. This year we welcomed over 750 attendees, to celebrate METS and mining companies’ export and innovation successes, Anight of 5-star food and entertainment was accompanied by our inspirational guest speaker, Curtis McGrath. Read his powerful biography below.

Austmine is delighted to announce our 2019 award winners:

Craig Senger Excellence in Export 
Sponsored by Austrade

Winner: Metallurgical Systems

Founded in 2010 and 100% Australian owned, Metallurgical Systems is a world-leading technology company with a specific focus on improving outcomes for minerals processing plants.  Their software is unrivalled globally, and they have installed their software in 7 countries, across 4 continents and in 3 different languages.

The judges said of Metallurgical Systems that they are innovative and pioneering, with an impressive export strategy and achieving overwhelming success in export markets. Their collaboration with overseas miners is outstanding, and they are a very deserving winner of the 2019 Craig Senger Excellence in Export Award.

Austmine Miners Innovation Award
Sponsored by Dingo Mining

Winner: PanAust – Diesel Fuel Backloading System

The PanAust commercial team designed and built 18 half-height 20 feet fuel tanks to backload diesel fuel from a local vendor to its Phu Kham Copper-Gold Operation. The backloading of diesel fuel has removed 8-10 contractor fuel tankers from the mine site route on a daily basis and ensures 100% utilisation of the associated trucks.  This unique transport model demonstrates miner-driven innovation and a smarter way of operating.

The judges selected PanAust’s diesel fuel backloading system as a true example of miner conceived and driven innovation. The project took considerable effort, delivering significant environmental, cost and efficiency benefits to the operation, whilst increasing gender diversity in the logistics teams. 

Austmine METS Innovation Award
Sponsored by Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Winner: Orica

WebGen™ 100 wireless electronic blasting system is the world’s first wireless through earth electronic blasting system. WebGen™ 100 has demonstrated that it will reduce the exposure of people in higher risk environments, delivers significant productivity gains and increases reliability with less misfires, production delays and eliminating the need to re-drill.

 The judges noted that Orica is a very worthy winner, with their WebGen technology being a gamechanger. Their technology represents not only a technological breakthrough, but also a step-change in safety and productivity for the industry.

Austmine Champion of Innovation Award
Sponsored by Hitachi

Winner: Steve Durkin, Managing Director, Safescape

Steve Durkin is the owner, Founder and key driver of Safescape. Holding a Bachelor of Engineering in Mining and started his company in 2009. Steve’s innovative mind and deep passion for mining played a large part in the development of Safescape’s Laddertube.  Throughout Steve’s career, he has continually challenged the status quo focusing on innovative inventions to improve safety in the METS industry.

The judges congratulated Steve on being more than deserving of the title of Champion of Innovation. Steve has embraced and inspired innovation across his career, both within his own world-leading company, Safescape, and also within others he has partnered with and mentored. He is a proven, long-term innovator, with impressive commercial success with his innovations.


A true story of triumph over tragedy:

Curtis McGrath is a para-canoeist like no other. On the 23rd of August 2012, young soldier Curtis McGrath’s life changed forever. The decorated Sapper was two months into a tour of Taliban-rife areas of Afghanistan when he stepped on a homemade landmine, otherwise known as an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). The then 24-year-old tragically lost both his legs in the blast.

Curtis enlisted into the Australian Army on the 12th June 2006, at the age of 18. His focus immediately turned to Combat Engineering, a role that’s main aim is to “Provide mobility whilst denying the enemy mobility”. Duties range from building structures and converting seawater into drinking water for both the Army and the local populous, to destroying bridges and clearing mines and booby traps. 

Thirty minutes after losing both his legs in an horrific blast in Afghanistan, in those traumatic moments as he was being stretchered from the bomb site, Curtis was already thinking about pursuing a career as an amputee athlete. Fully aware of his grim situation and partly to maintain consciousness as a survival mechanism, he joked with  those helping him about becoming a Paralympian. He didn’t know what sport he was going to do, but his positive outlook and determination to rebound and get on with achieving his driving ambitions is what has made this man
get to where he is today.

Curtis had lost his right leg above the knee and the left leg just below the knee. After a miraculously speedy recovery and rehabilitation process, Curtis was fitted with legs made by Otto Bock, a German company first started after World War I. He tried his hand at a few sports but settled on canoeing, an activity he’d dabbled in at school.

Curtis only took up outrigger canoeing in January 2014 and has made it all the way to be one of the fastest sprint canoeist in the world. In 2015 the International Paralympic Committee made the decision to replace the outrigger canoe with the sprint kayak. Curtis has had to quickly adapt to the kayak to be eligible for the Paralympics. He trained 12 times a week during the build-up to the competition. This training was given by an elite kayaker and
now Australian Paracanoe Coach Guy Powers. He had Curtis working hard right from the word go.

He’s won two gold medals at the 2016, 17 and 18 ICF Paracanoe World Championships and a Paralympic gold medal in the Men’s 200m KL2 kayak event at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

In February 2017 Curtis became the first Paralympic athlete to be honoured by being named ‘Sportsman of the Year’ at the World Paddle Awards and Australian Canoeing Paracanoeist of the Year. That same year he was honoured with an Order of Australia Medal. Curtis also was an ambassador for the Invictus Games 2018 in Sydney where he helped build the profile of the games and worked for the ABC on the broadcasting team with Chris Bath, Anthony ‘Lehmo’ Lehman and Dylan Alcott OAM.

Mr Curtis McGrath appears by arrangement with Saxton Speakers Bureau