After graduating as a mining engineer in 1925, Sir George Fisher commenced his career in Broken Hill where he quickly rose to underground manager and then general manager at the Zinc Corporation.
There he learned to deal with the formidable Barrier Industrial Council, successfully displaying the capacity to establish a fine rapport with the union leaders. Central to this and later success were his remarkable people skills.
With the impending retirement of Mt Isa Mines (MIM) Chairman, Julius Kruttschnitt, Sir George joined MIM, then controlled by US company ASARCO, in 1952 as General Manager, becoming Chairman in 1953. Attracting him to Mt Isa was the prospect of freedom from overseas interference and autonomy to run the company as he saw fit. This was to be a major turning point for MIM and Mt Isa itself which, in both cases, were to be transformed under his leadership.
He set about building houses and facilities to attract a stable workforce and embarked on a large-scale exploration program resulting in extremely rich new mineral deposits. By 1959 a copper refinery was built in Townsville facilitating the local refinement of copper and the manufacture of copper products. He was always a strong advocate of local downstream value-adding.
During the 1950s, Sir George was also responsible for construction of Lake Moondarra, the largest private water storage project in the country. Successfully negotiating with State and Federal Governments to have the Mt Isa to Townsville railway reconstructed was another major success during this era.
Under Sir George’s leadership, mine production went from 1,500 to 16,000 tons per day. Copper production went from zero to 100,000 tons per year, ready to go to 150,000 before he retired. Lead production was over 100,000 tons. It was probably the largest lead and silver mine in Australia, and one of the largest in the world at the time. The copper was at number nine worldwide and reserves went from three million tons to 140 million tons. Under his leadership, the town developed from 6,000 people to over 20,000 people and the payroll went from seven million pounds, to 31 million pounds.
Sir George made a historic contribution to his city, State, and nation, and rendered extensive and meritorious community service. He was a giant of the mining industry, a world-recognised innovator, and among the most significant pioneers of regional development in Australia’s history.