Digging deep with Daniel Chipfunhu
While Daniel Chipfunhu, Mining Solutions Global Development Specialist, has always been attracted to the mining industry, his career journey has not followed a linear path. When it came to selecting a university course to pursue after high school, it was more curiosity than careful planning that saw Daniel Chipfunhu enrol in a Metallurgical Engineering degree in his home country of Zimbabwe. “I think straight from high school I wanted to know what metallurgy was about, so I enrolled in to that more out of curiosity than understanding what it entailed. Luckily going through the course, I really liked it”.
After completing his first degree, Daniel enrolled in a Masters in Renewable Energy, but missed having a deeper connection with the mining industry. “Mining is an integral part of society and modern life is dependent on so many things we get from mining. People don’t always realise what’s involved when they hold their smartphone for example in their hand, which has many components that come from mining, and I love mining for that reason.”
When the opportunity came up to move to Australia and complete a PhD in Minerals and Materials Engineering (flotation), Daniel welcomed the move. After graduating and working a fly-in, fly-out job at a copper flotation plant, Daniel and his family relocated to Perth when the BASF Mining Solutions research and development centre opened.
After seven years with the company, Daniel says he still loves his job more than ever. “BASF is one of the largest chemical companies with such a wide chemistry portfolio to really leverage from in the mining industry. Working in research and development for BASF developing new products means we have a huge network across the world, brilliant chemists and so much room for innovation.”
Now working as a Global Development Specialist, Daniel loves the challenge of working on global projects with colleagues all over the world. “Being able to work with colleagues with different expertise, I’ve learnt a lot. We find that we get enquiries for mining industry about reagents or processes that is outside our expertise at BASF Mining Solutions Australia, so it’s quite nice for me to pass over that enquiry to a global colleague who I know is an expert and can find a very good solution for our client.”
Before he jetted off to the Philippines last month to present a paper he had written at the SMEP-METCON conference, Daniel explained that attending conferences is a great perk of his job. “I love presenting, I’m not a natural presenter but I like challenging myself. I also like networking, staying up to date with what's going on in the industry, and a lot of the time conferences give us ideas of what we can focus on in terms of product development based on client needs”.
While the opportunity to present his knowledge at a conference is always an honour, Daniel concludes that often what you take away as a presenter is even more valuable. “At most conferences you have people in the room who are quite knowledgeable in the subject matter and they ask questions that help us go back to the drawing board and think ‘ok what can we do next to improve our product from that feedback?’. It’s quite informative and inspiring in that sense.”
Daniel presenting a paper on BASF's frothers for sulphide mineral flotation at METCON 2019 in the Philippines