TDI Interview – Dr Kym Morton

Insights / 23 March 2021 by TDI / TDI
Credit : Dr Kym Morton

As part of the The Dewatering Institute‘s commitment towards knowledge sharing, TDI is developing a series of monthly interviews of industry leaders and professionals from different parts of the world. This months edition features Dr Kym Morton. Founder of KLM Consulting and International expert on mine dewatering design.

Can you tell us more about your work history and how you got into the dewatering industry?

I have a Background in Geology, I started at Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg and then I got a scholarship to King’s College where I did my BSc Honors, then worked in Namibia for 2 years at Rotting Uranium.  I went over to Botswana, worked on a project there and then went back to University College in London and did an MSc in Hydrogeology. 

Since then I’ve been working all over Sub-Saharan Africa and I did a lot of work for the De Beers, about 18 years as their lead adviser on water, consulting internationally (Indonesia, Russia, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Australia). I did my MBA at Imperial College and my thesis was on Mine Dewatering and the Dewatering Industry.  

What are your favorite projects that you’ve worked on in your career?

I’ve worked in around 70 different countries. The largest project I’ve worked on was a copper mine in the Congo, which is the biggest mine in the world. One of my favourite projects was in Siberia, Siberia is a very exciting area to work in and the Russians are incredibly bright. Another one of my favourite projects was in Angola, where we are opening the biggest kimberlite pipe in the world.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve seen in the industry?

I think the biggest challenge we have is with education at the moment, we have a lot of computer modeling going on. What is really important in this industry is getting to site, getting your boots dirty and using real time evidence to improve decision making. 

Why would you recommend younger generations a career in the dewatering industry? 

I think mining is a very exciting career, because it takes a huge amount of thought to get the logistics right. So my advice to younger people if they really want an exciting career that will always stimulate them, then mining and water would provide an excellent career.

What aspects of the industry do you think need improving?

In our industry there is innovation going on all the time, there’s been an explosion in tailings management which is very exciting. The use of gaming skills in visualisation is also very important, real-time monitoring and alerts so you can see exactly what is happening in a specific area in the world. So you can sit in your boardroom in Vancouver, London or Perth and you can see exactly what’s happening to your mine in deepest Congo or Angola.  

Areas that are sluggish are perhaps the governments, the governments don’t seem to understand that water has a lot more opportunity for innovation. There needs to be much better cooperation between governments, corporates and the mines themselves. At the end of the day if you dont waste water, you don’t pollute, so the more you conserve water and the better you look after it, the better the business will be. Managing water better is in everybody’s interest. 

Can you tell us why TDI is important to the industry?

I think TDI is a marvelous initiative and fits very well with my ambition to spread more information about water management and have more transparency in the industry. There should be good competition in the industry, but at the same time there needs to be collaboration. I think we should have a lot more due diligence and processes particularly with complex modeling. 

I think TDI can help elevate the transparency and share knowledge through the TDI courses and webinars. I think that is fabulous because what kills our industry is ignorance, people make decisions without the right knowledge. 

What has been the most inspiring thing someone has said to you within your line of work?

Not necessarily inspiring but very sensible, I was working on a project in Botswana I had been on site for about 9 years and Anglo- American were going to take it over so our whole team was being demobbed from that project. The project became very close to my heart and I began to think that the project would fall without me and as I was about to catch the last flight out, an Irish engineer said to me “Take your hand out of a bucket of water and see what difference it makes”. 

The whole philosophy is that you’re never as big as the project, the project is bigger than you, if you’re taken out of the equation it will still carry on. You must never think that you’re the most important person in the room, the most important concept is everybody working in a team to get the project off the ground as sustainably and responsibly when water is involved. Once you take ego out of the work you’re doing, it’s amazing how far a project can go.

As you have worked all over, what is your favorite place to work?

I’d have to say a copper mine in Spain, after work you get to drink Spanish wine, eat Spanish food and work with lovely Spanish people and it’s also a fantastically run mine. 

What is your life motto?

“Never give up, persistence is everything”, at some point you might want to give up or might need to, nothing lasts forever, change is inevitable and there’s huge opportunity in chaos.

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