African Mining Expert returns to King’s

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Platinum mining industry expert Dr Ian Bratt told King’s School geologists that fracking would be needed to meet the shortfall in world’s energy supplies, but that environmental concerns could also be satisfied.

Ian went to King’s from 1965 to 1972, before going up to Cambridge to study Natural Sciences, subsequently taking his doctorate in Chemistry. He emigrated to South Africa in 1981 and alongside becoming part of the senior management team for Impala Platinum, the world’s second largest platinum mine, he founded the South African Orienteering Association, represented South Africa at Orienteering in 1983 and later managed their National team.

He returned to his old school to recount a life and career in ground-breaking mineral extraction and answer questions from Sixth Formers, including the school’s young geologists, who were eager to hear from a man at the forefront of modern technologies.

He said: “There is still a great demand for minerals and natural resources and though we have been looking for many, many years there is still a great deal we don’t know about. We are running out of coal, oil and gas and I am afraid green energy just will not supply global demand now or in the near future so we have to exploit all resources that are available to us.

“However it can be done responsibly. Mining used to be a blight on the landscape, but the industry has learned over the years to minimise the effect on the land. My own mine in South Africa is ISO 14001 accredited for environmental management and I am sure the same exacting standards will apply here.”

Dr John Fitzgerald, King’s Head of Geology, said: “We tell our geologists that if you can’t grow it, you have to dig it out of the earth and our A Level Geology course is an all-encompassing study of how planet earth functions.”

Dr Bratt (left) is pictured with Dr John Fitzgerald (right) and King’s Geology students Robert Massey, Eleanor Tunick and Jonathan Provis, who said: “I love studying Geology because it is a fabulous interconnected puzzle where everything relates to everything else and you appreciate the balance of Mother Earth.”

As well as talking about his life in mining, Dr Bratt also told of his passion for running, started on the cold, muddy and often bleak King’s playing fields. Ian said: “I started running at the King’s School’s coming last in a cross country race, but I wasn’t going to let that defeat me and now I can say I have competed on the international stage, run 67 standard marathons and 38 ultramarathons.”

He added: “The most important lesson I have learned is that you must work hard and persevere. This was definitely drilled into me at King’s but as you go through your career you learn more and more skills and an important lesson is never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”

He added: “I have managed hundreds of workers and one thing you have to learn is how to make decisions, and not be afraid to back your judgement.”

Ian was talking to students as part of a continuing programme of former pupils retelling their own school lives and advising current students about their forthcoming all important choices.