Laying sustainable foundations for future growth

For our final Groundwork of 2022, we talked to Mark Dillon, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Principal Engineer, about the foundations ATC Williams is laying in Mongolia.

How long has ATC Williams been involved in Mongolia?

My first visit to Mongolia was in 2017, when I began working in partnership with the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) on a quality assurance project. Since then, we have worked on various projects for Oyu Tolgoi and Erdene Resource Development. During COVID, we relied heavily on our Mongolian partners to provide on-ground support.

During 2022 ATC Williams has been exploring further opportunities in mine waste management within Mongolia with the support of the Austrade Excelerate program. The Excelerate program offers companies like ATC Williams the ground assistance with securing and growing markets in Mongolia.

My most recent business development trip was in May, where I met with potential clients to make strategic alliances, along with visiting existing clients.

Why is Mongolia a good fit for ATC Williams?

Mongolia is a progressive and mineral-rich country. It has well-established and functional artisanal mining practices, of course. Still, best-practise methods that follow the social and governance aspects in the new global standard in tailings management are key in attracting foreign investment. We see the benefits of utilising and developing the on-ground talent of Mongolian nationals keen to upskill so that tailings management can become an in-country service.

We also received support from Austrade via the Australian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar and through our engagement with the Mongolian-Australian Chamber of Commerce (Auscham Mongolia), an NGO that focuses on providing long-term economic and social contributions to the country. They are very supportive of our aims to bring skills in country and have been beneficial in promoting the ATC Williams brand within the mining community of Mongolia.

Tell us more about your work with MUST.

MUST are graduating engineering students keen to understand the western methods of mine waste management and develop in-country expertise. I have provided pro bono seminars for MUST engineering students on best-practise for tailings management. We also partner with MUST in a joint venture project for the Oyu Tolgoi mine located in the south Gobi Desert. Oyu Tolgoi is one of the world’s largest known copper and gold deposits. I initially provided quality assurance work for the mine, and our involvement has grown from there.

What other countries have you worked in?

Before joining ATC Williams in 2007, I was with Golder (now WSP) for nine years, based in Perth and Melbourne. For two of those years, I relocated to Ireland and England to perform quality assurance work. I was able to learn a great deal from the way European countries approach mining and waste management. France and Portugal, in particular, are world leaders. It was also a good opportunity for my UK-based family and friends to meet my wife Michelle and kids, who were six months and two years old at the time.

What was your motivation to join ATC Williams?

ATC Williams was always well known for its high level of technical ability. I was certainly inspired by Paul Williams’ research and work in tailings management, and I wanted to deepen my knowledge in this field.

I am grateful to be in a leadership position now as COO, working with a crew of highly motivated and skilled people. We have an outstanding cohort of young people coming through too. I see the long-term benefits ATC Williams can offer Mongolia and other countries, and I’m excited to be driving this vision.

You can follow Mark on Linkedin here