Keynote Speakers


Carolina Ahumada

Principal Global Water Management, BHP

Keynote presentation title: BHP’s mine water management integrated approach to manage risk and optimise resource value

Carolina holds a degree in Hydraulic Civil Engineering and post studies in Project Management and Innovation, with more than 18 years in planning and operation of depressurisation and dewatering in large open pits, water management, environmental water assessments, geotechnical, tailings and desalination processes. She has worked internationally, mainly in Chile, Peru and Australia for mining companies and global consultancies. Carolina is member of the International Water Association and the International Association of Hydrogeologists. Carolina joined BHP in 2013, starting at Escondida (Chile) where she worked in a number of technical, management and strategic roles related to hydrogeology, geotechnical engineering and water resource management. In her current role, with BHP’s global Technical Centre of Excellence, she provides technical expertise and supports leadership and capability in Water Management and performance across BHP. This includes the development of water standards and guidelines, sharing best practice and supporting assets in water related risk management. She has also been a key team member for the BHP Water Stewardship project, which included the first external disclosure report.


Robert Sharon
Director, Sharon Geotechnical LLC
Principal Geotechnical Consultant, Piteau Associates, USA

Keynote presentation title: Slope performance monitoring: system design, implementation and quality assurance

Robert has over 35 years consulting and industry experience in mining geomechanics, following a brief interval as a welder-mechanic. He has degrees in geology and geological engineering from the University of Utah. He worked for several Utah and Colorado based consulting firms in the 1980s, primarily on projects in the open pit and underground coal mining sector in the Western US, Canada and Indonesia. This early experience included a period as manager of a rock mechanics laboratory. Mr. Sharon joined Barrick in 1988 as Sr. Geotechnical Engineer for Goldstrike Mines in Nevada. In 1998 he began providing geotechnical support to Barrick’s projects and operations worldwide. He joined Newmont’s Global Geotechnical Group in 2012 as a Sr. Director, returning to Barrick in 2014 to lead Barrick’s global corporate technical team, with responsibilities that spanned geotechnical design and performance for open pit and underground mining operations, tailings and heap leach facilities, and water management structures. In 2018, Mr. Sharon formed Sharon Geotechnical LLC, a private consulting practice with a primary focus on open pit geomechanics. Mr. Sharon also serves as a Principal Geotechnical Consultant for Piteau Associates.


Dr John Simmons
Sherwood Geotechnical & Research Services

Keynote presentation title: Geomechanics of Australian open cut coal mining

John is a consulting specialist geotechnical and civil engineer trained in Australia and Canada. He has more than 30 years’ experience in applied geology, materials testing, analysis, and design and more than 10 years’ experience in research and teaching. He has worked with soft clays and coastal sediments, stiff fissured clays, sands and tailings, mine waste dumps, residual soils, extremely low to extremely high strength rocks, piled foundations, and dams, and has fieldwork, laboratory testing, and numerical modelling expertise.
John now specialises in geotechnical engineering and hazard management for open pit coal mining and has consulted widely in Australia and Indonesia.