• In the lead-up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, we’re celebrating some of the champion women of the resources industry
  • Marion Bush is technical director at Miramar Resources and recently returned to the exploration industry after studying mining finance in the UK
  • Despite growing up in WA, she never harboured ambitions to join the mining sector until well into completing her geology degree


Miramar Resources technical director Marion Bush can recall almost every single detail about her first experience in an exploration camp – one which exceeded all of her expectations – but ironically not its exact location or who employed her.

“It was in the Goldfields, around Leonora/Laverton and I was a fieldie, but I can’t remember the name of the company,” she tells Stockhead.

“I remember it being a pretty decent exploration camp, but I had to live in the annex of a caravan because there wasn’t any space for me. Everyone else had dongas and I was in the annex of a caravan where either the cook or camp manager was staying.

“It’s funny that I can’t remember where it was because I can remember lots of fun things about that time. I just had the best four weeks of my life. I got to do all kinds of hands-on things, go out and see the drill rigs for the first time and learn about some of the menial stuff. That’s when it dawned on me for the first time that working in this kind of environment wasn’t just about the knowledge in your head, it’s about your ability to get on with people as well.

“I couldn’t imagine spending that long in winter living in the annex of a caravan now, but back then I was just having so much fun it didn’t really matter.”

Marion Bush attended her first gold pour in 1992. Pic: Supplied


Rocks are better than plants

Bush studied at Perth’s Curtin University in the early 1990s at a time when there was a concerted push to get more young women into science courses.

Rather than follow her older brother Stephen into engineering, she enrolled in a multidisciplinary science degree comprised of geology and biology. Her flirtation with the latter lasted barely a fortnight.

“I dissected a broad bean and had to classify a conifer,” she recalls. “I can tell you broad beans are as boring as they sound and I still don’t know what a conifer is.

“But geology was a small school, everyone was fun, everyone came from different backgrounds. It was a nice mix of learning about stuff and then going out and applying it. That’s how I knew geology was for me.”

Despite several trips to Kalgoorlie and the Alcoa refinery south of Perth when she was growing up, Bush never really had her sights set on becoming part of Western Australia’s flourishing mining sector.

However, towards the end of her degree, it became increasingly obvious she was destined to join her brother – now a fully-fledged mechanical and process engineer – in the industry which is the backbone of the State’s economy.


Bush’s first underground experience was at Telfer in 1993. Pic: Supplied


‘I thought someone was taking me under their wings’

Unlike many other young women in the sector at the time, Bush was not the only female in her first exploration camp.

As someone who was also shy and naïve due to her youthful age, she admits to being unaware about some of the disparaging behaviours that were going on around her when she first started working in the industry.

“I found out later that one of the operators on a mine I worked at really liked seeing anyone new on site, especially females, and so I’d get the call to go and walk around in the pit when I actually thought they were being good to me and getting me out there to learn something,” she says.

“That made me really uncomfortable after the fact. I thought someone was taking me under their wings when really they were actually someone who just wanted to see a young female, something new, something different to look at.

“Obviously there’s been a lot of changes for the better since then. Just airing this stuff, giving it light, actually changes things and makes people feel more responsible to report these things and give support to people. Because a lot of people won’t say anything if they think they’re not being supported.

“I don’t think it’s the only thing we should be thinking about and I certainly don’t think it’s everywhere if you look for it, but everyone’s got a responsibility to behave in a certain way, that’s what a lot of it comes down to.”


Bush hard at work during one of Miramar’s first RC drill programs at its Gidji project just outside of Kalgoorlie. Pic: Supplied


‘This is so much better than reading a book’

Bush stepped away from the exploration game for a period last decade to study mining finance in the UK and fulfil a long-held ambition to work in that particular arm of the global resources industry.

As an Australian passport holder, it proved more far challenging than hoped to secure a permanent position over there and so Bush returned to Perth, joined forces with revered exploration geologist Allan Kelly at greenfields exploration company Miramar Resources (ASX:M2R) .

In the early days of the company’s existence, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when state and international borders were shut to WA, both Bush and Kelly found themselves supporting the drillers on the rigs they had contracted.

“We were the ones on the rigs because we couldn’t get anybody,” Bush says.

“I was like, ‘oh god, here we go, this is why I went off and studied mining finance’ because I didn’t want to be on the drill rigs, the very thought of it was quite overwhelming.

“But the drillers were really nice, there was this strong cohesion and I just started feeling a lot more comfortable to the point where it went from being something I never used to enjoy to something I was now really enjoying.”


Bush returned to Australia from the UK in 2019 and helped Allan Kelly float Miramar Resources on the ASX the following year. Pic: Supplied


Miramar’s current focus is the Bangemall project in WA’s Gascoyne region where the company has flagged the potential for Norilsk-style nickel-copper-PGE mineralisation never before seen anywhere else in the state.

Bush says returning to work on greenfields exploration projects such as Bangemall has given her a new lease on life.

“The exploration industry can be really rewarding and it feels like you’re always learning too,” she says.

“It’s not necessarily all in a textbook; your degree is just the beginning and then you get out there and you’ll find someone who’s got snippets of information which can be fascinating. Allan was just talking to me then about a certain type of deposit and I’m thinking, ‘wow, this is so much better than reading a book’.”


At Stockhead, we tell it like it is. While Miramar Resources is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article.