Going places with Molycop

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Since graduating from the University of NSW (UNSW) in Australia, Tom Sinclair was offered a graduate trainee position within Molycop. Tom is now employed with Molycop as a grinding media product metallurgist.

In mid 2014, Tom was given the opportunity to travel to the Molycop grinding media businesses located in the Americas as part of his induction program. Tom spent time in Kansas City in the USA, then Kamloops in Canada, and finally travelling to the South American Moly Cop businesses in Peru and Chile.

“I spent two weeks in Kansas City and Kamloops working with their metallurgists and I learnt a lot. An important thing I learnt was the difference between being a metallurgist and being a process engineer and trying to figure out how to be practical as opposed to being a perfectionist!”

In Peru, Tom spent five weeks working at the Molycop manufacturing facilities located in Lima and Arequipa.  The experience was enlightening both from a professional and a cultural perspective.  Tom was surprised by the differences between the North and South American businesses.

“It was interesting that in many ways the South American culture was closer to the way we do business than the North American.  Despite the language difference – South American personalities and the way they went about their work was similar to Australia.  It was interesting to see that change in culture across the business.”

Working for a company with a global footprint meant that Tom also had the opportunity to explore different cultures and visit some spectacular and exotic destinations.  “Hiking through the Andes was an amazing experience that I am not about to forget any time soon”, said Tom.

The importance of Safety was common to all parts of the Molycop business.  “In some countries you visit, safety is not always a strong focus” Tom said, “but in the Molycop plants safety always given a high priority.  A very strong focus is given to providing workers with a safe workplace.”

In Kansas City at the start of his trip, Tom had the opportunity to participate in the Molycop Application and Support Meeting (+MAS) which ran over three days and focused on the exchange of technical best practice ideas from across the group.  Tom met with technical and production representatives from Molycop’s global operations.  “It was excellent in terms of understanding the science behind what it is we do and how to improve upon it.  There were lots of great interactions going on and I got to meet other young people from across the business.”

For Tom, what he learnt and discovered during his time overseas is having an impact on his work today.  “Part of my role is research and development – I got to talk to lot of experienced metallurgists and subject matter experts from across our global business and gained a greater appreciation of the different processes used across our group.  Our individual businesses have evolved separately but now we have the chance to share that information with each other.  We all end up with the same product and most of us have evolved in the same direction but there are differences along the way.”

Interaction and customer site visits both in Australia and while in the Americas have been a highly valued part of Tom’s work experience to date.  “I visited copper mines in Canada, Chile and Peru, visiting and talking to some of our biggest customers in the America’s.  In Australia I’ve also visited copper and gold mines in South Australia and NSW.  It really provides a great insight when you see how the customer is using your product and what is important to them.  It’s been good from my position because I can see how the product is manufactured, then how it is used by our customers.”

Tom’s involvement with the engineering programme at UNSW is continuing through The Centre for Sustainable Materials, Research and Technology (SMaRT).  SMaRT utilises an Australian Research Council grant that is funding research projects focused on sustainable processes including the production of grinding media.

Tom is looking forward to what his future with Molycop holds.  “In terms of technology, I guess steel manufacturing technologies are quite mature.  But in terms of grinding media there is still a lot of development to occur.  It is quite amazing to see the advancement in grinding media product development by Molycop, especially over the past 10 years.”

For university students considering an industry scholarship or cadetship with Molycop, Tom’s advice is simple.  “I’d say go for it – there are plenty of opportunities, especially if you have the opportunity to rotate through the different businesses – there’s a lot to learn.”