SOUTH African Deon van der Mescht has lived in Mount Isa three weeks since transferring from Cobar to become Glencore’s North Queensland executive general manager of copper assets.
These mining communities are the two Australian locations Mr van der Mescht has been based in since accepting Glencore’s offer to transfer from South Africa in late 2013.
Mr van der Mescht first transferred to Cobar’s CSA mine where he was chief executive officer. He loved the experience although acknowledged retail therapy with his wife had its challenges in the small community when compared to living in South Africa.
But the rural and remote positions suit Mr van der Mescht, who never considered himself a city person. He was born in a South African mining town smaller than the Isa and joined the industry to obey his father’s wishes.
“When I was about to finish my schooling I had a lot of various options to consider in my career but my dad was pretty straight forward about it,” Mr van der Mescht said. “My dad was not keen in allowing any options to be considered. He said ‘mining or nothing’...I don’t regret it to be honest, it’s something I really love. It’s my genes I guess.”
Mr van der Mescht’s wife and daughter have followed him to Australia, but his son, a pilot recently married, remains in South Africa despite his father’s attempts to lure him to live in Australia.
Mount Isa Mines’ new executive is also a “DIY fanatic” who enjoys renovating and developing properties, and his first priority moving to Australia was having a shed with his tools.
He has not looked at potential properties in Mount Isa yet as he is on a 457 Visa, which means there are disincentives against Mr van der Mescht buying property. “I have less than a year before I can apply for PR (permanent residency),” he said. “When I got the offer from Glencore I came with the understanding I would be PR straight away but we weren’t aware of legislation that had changed, which put a limit on age...it was a bit of a shock for us when we realised.”