Years after studying at the Western Australian School of Mines, Neil Warburton is encouraging others to financially support its next generation of students.
Mining and resources veteran Neil Warburton is the non-executive director of four ASX-listed companies – Namibian Copper NL, Independent Group Ltd, Peninsular Energy and Australia Mines Ltd – and chairman of one of them.
Warburton studied an Associate Degree of Mining Engineering at the Western Australian School of Mines, based in Kalgoorlie-Boulder from 1974 to 1979.
The degree, which took longer than the usual four years because he also worked part-time and took a six-month break, taught him practical skills to succeed in the workforce.
“I would definitely say that my journey to get to where I am began in Kalgoorlie,” he says.
“What you learnt during the day in the classroom was immediately applicable in the real world of mining while studying in Kalgoorlie. The Western Australian School of Mines’s brand is known worldwide for producing highly qualified and practical ‘mining industry ready’ graduates. If you write on your resume that you studied there, you’ll be very highly valued.”
Warburton maintained a connection to the school after graduating by being involved with its community of alumni.
Now, he’s decided to take his relationship with Curtin and the Western Australian School of Mines a step further by becoming a member of the University’s WAIT Alumni Scholarships Campaign Committee. As part of his role, he has donated a financial gift to help fund scholarships for students and is encouraging other industry and community leaders to do the same.
“We hope to build a large endowment scholarship fund that will eventually support all Western Australian School of Mines students,” Warburton says.
“It’s important to donate because it’s getting more expensive for students to complete these courses. If they take out a HECS loan, finish their studies and look for a job, they’ll have a debt hanging over them. I have friends and business associates in the mining industry that I can bring to the table to help them.”
He sees the committee as an opportunity to continue to promote the Western Australian School of Mines, support its students and help them become future leaders in the mining and resources industry.
“I hope to keep in contact with my sponsored students during their studies,” Warburton says.
“If I can assist them to get through their course and maybe help them find employment afterwards, everyone will be better off.”
Help those in need
Despite a commitment of $6.5 million annually towards scholarships as a result of funding from Curtin University, the Commonwealth and external organisations, 65 per cent of students who apply for a scholarship miss out.