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McLEOD, John Kenneth Allister AO (1930-2002)

McLEOD, John Kenneth Allister AO (1930-2002)


Allister McLeod's ancestors emigrated from Scotland during the land clearances of the 1850's and settled at Clunes in Victoria. His maternal grandparents took up a parcel of land on the Darling River near Wilcania in the 1870's. His father moved from where he was working at a gold mine in Victoria to Broken Hill in 1925, having graduated from the Bairnsdale School of Mines in 1920. It was here that he met and subsequently married Eleanor Allison. Allister was born on 19 December 1930 in Adelaide and spent the first three years of his life in Broken Hill. The family then moved to the Murchison District in Western Australia (900km northwest of Perth) and by the age of 14 Alister had attended 13 different schools.

On 10 February 1944 he was enrolled at Geelong College and remained there until the end of 1948, completing the leaving certificate, but deciding against coming back in 1949 to undertake matriculation. While at College he showed considerable sporting prowess in football, cricket, athletics and swimming and was also a School Prefect in his final year. His academic results were not as outstanding as his sporting accomplishments, although he received strong encouragement and support from all the College staff including the headmaster Dr Buntine.

Allister studied first year mining at the Western Australian School of Mines in Kalgoorlie in 1949. Between 1950 and 1956 he lived at St Mark's College while studying at the University of Adelaide, graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Mining. In later years he obtained Mine Manager's certificates in both Tasmania and Queensland and in 1973 completed the Executive Management Program in Business Administration at Columbia University in the USA.

While at university in Adelaide Allister's sporting achievements were quite outstanding. He played representative football, cricket, athletics, tennis, rugby, golf and squash. He was a prominent member of the Adelaide University Football team for all six years he was in Adelaide. He also represented South Australia and Australia in amateur football, being captain of the national team in 1954. He was also heavily involved in the administrative aspect of the university sports, being a representative on numerous committees.

In 1957 he married Mary Mellish, whom he had met while at university in Adelaide.

After graduating from Adelaide University, he moved back to Kalgoorlie in WA and obtained underground experiences at Great Boulder Gold Mines. His father at that time was General Manager of the North Kalgurli Mine. Between 1958 and 1985 his career as a mining engineer manager included periods with Electrolytic Zinc (1958/59), Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company (1959/67), Utah Development Company (1967/74), Thiess Holdings (1974/79) and CSR Limited (1979/85). Between 1985 and 2000, his career as a director or company Chairman included positions with Poseidon Group (1985/88), Coal & Allied Industries (1985/89), Metana Minerals and Eastmet Limited (1991/93), Gold Mines of Australia (1995/96), Frontier Exploration (1988/99) and QCT Resources (1991/00). Allister also served on the board of many other professional organisations and public bodies in a voluntary capacity.

Allister joined the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) as a student in 1950 and founded the Society of Mining, Metallurgical and Chemical Engineering at Adelaide University, being its president in 1954/55. In 1970 he initiated, and for ten years organised, vacation employment in North America for more than 200 Australian mining students and reciprocal employment in Australia for some 50 USA and Canadian students. He served on the committees of the Adelaide, West Coast Tasmania, Central Queensland and Southern Queensland branches of the AusIMM over many years. He was also a councillor for twenty four years and national president in both 1978 and 1993 - the AuslMM's centenary year. He was awarded the Institute Medal in 1990, the citation reading ' in acknowledgement of an outstanding career as a mining engineer from the mine face to the Board Chairmanship, with leadership in professional and ethical aspects of base metal, gold and coal mining and a dedicated long continuing association with the Institute from student member to President'. In 1995 he was also awarded Honorary Fellowship of the Institute.

In June 1999, Allister was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for outstanding contributions to the Australian mining industry.

Allister McLeod passed away on 5 December 2002 in Buderim Queensland and is survived by his wife, four children and nine grandchildren.

In 2015 Alister's son donated an extensive collection of Alister's School Reports, Correspondence, award trophies and several photographs to the Geelong College Archive.


Sources: Biography by Hamish McLeod 17 February 2015.
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