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Last updateFri, 21 Jun 2019 11am

Industry first for University of Derby minerals course

A student at the University of Derby’s Centre for Mineral Products has become the first person in the mineral extractives and quarrying industry to achieve a first class honours degree on a course developed in partnership with the Institute of Quarrying (IQ).

Robin Gillespie is Hanson UK’s Area Operations Manager for the North of England. He received his Bachelor of Science in Minerals Management at a degree ceremony at the University of Derby on 20th July 2018. 

Robin says: “I enrolled on the inaugural BSc course in 2014 but dropped out after six months due to time pressure to focus on my work. I restarted the course in 2016, combining my studies with my role as Unit Manager at Shap quarry in Cumbria. It was a lot of hard work and required considerable commitment. I was fortunate to have incredible support from both Hanson and the staff at the University of Derby, but I am so proud to be the first first.”

One of the leading suppliers of heavy building products in the UK, Hanson UK is developing talent to drive innovation and future business growth. Karen Wright, Talent and Development Manager, explains “We provide a number of structured support programmes providing the training and necessary skills for those that aspire to be our future business leaders.

“Robin is a great example of what other science and engineering graduates could achieve on our graduate management trainee programme. These are in place to attract, develop and retain the talent that Hanson and the quarrying industry need for the future.” 

The BSc (Hons) Minerals Management is a part-time degree designed specifically for the mineral products industry to prepare its leaders and managers for the future. The blended learning course involves online modules, as well as field projects. Robin’s work-based project looked at the benefits of using electronic delay versus pyrotechnical detonations for quarry blasting. The 63 page report earned him an impressive 86 per cent mark and played a major part in securing the top grade.

Robin explains: “Lifelong learning is so important for our industry and formal academic qualifications can help you develop both personally and professionally. Without it I wouldn’t have unlocked the potential cost savings identified in my report. Those findings have already been introduced at Shap and recommended for implementation at Heidelberg Cement quarries around the world, with potential annual savings of £750,000.”

James Thorne, Chief Executive Officer, IQ, says: “What a fantastic achievement by Robin and all of this year’s cohort. His success marks a significant milestone in the continual progression of the mineral extractives programmes at the University of Derby. 

“IQ’s partnership with the University of Derby is helping raise standards of professionalism throughout the industry, as more and more individuals and operators recognise the profound benefit of academic qualifications from higher apprenticeships through to honours degrees.”

Professor Judith Lamie, Pro Vice-Chancellor External Affairs at the University of Derby, said: “The University’s Centre for Mineral Products delivers industry standard and globally recognised qualifications to the mineral products sector. We have a longstanding commitment to training and development in the mineral products industry and are extremely proud of our students who qualify in this field.”

Mark Osbaldeston heads up the Centre for Mineral Products at the University of Derby. He adds: “I’m personally delighted for Robin that he received a well deserved first class honours degree. His application and enthusiasm for the course was exceptional.” 

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