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C. Mick Lownds

2015 Medal of Merit Recipient




Charles Michael (Mick) Lownds was born in South Africa and earned his undergraduate degree from Rhodes University and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Cape Town. He immigrated to the USA in 1988, becoming a citizen in 2001. Lownds has published many technical papers and has been awarded 12 U.S. patents. He was the recipient of the President’s Award from the International Society of Explosives Engineers in 2000. Recently, he retired after 42 years in commercial explosives following tenure with Sasol as Explosives R&D Manager and at Orica as Manager in charge of the electronic detonator business. Lownds now owns Mick Lownds Consulting in Salt Lake City offering expertise and guidance in commercial explosives.

A pioneer in electronic detonator development, Lownds searched for ways to perfect precise timed detonators and spent years in blasting research, concentrating on explosive-rock interaction. This work has resulted in better contained blasts, where an undulating surface is now observed, rather than rock flying from the blast.

The early years of perfecting new detonator technology proved challenging for both the producer and the customers. Lownds chased problems to their cause. His openness with customers convinced many mine operators to overcome traditions and realize the benefits of precise blasts.

Over the years, Lownds has made significant advancement on electronic initiation systems. He is a much sought-after speaker and generously shares his knowledge at mining schools across the country. His determination on improving the safety, reliability and efficiency in large-scale blasting has earned him unparalleled kudos among explosives manufacturers and mining companies.


Fiorella Giana
Medal of Merit Under Age of 40


Born in Argentina, Fiorella Giana left the small cattle ranch where she grew up in 2001 to attend college in the United States.  Immediately following graduation in Mining Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2005, she joined Phelps Dodge (later acquired by Freeport-McMoRan Inc.) at Chino Mines in Bayard, New Mexico as an entry level Mine Engineer.

For the past decade, as a result of Giana’s extraordinary combination of technical skill, leadership, commitment and quest for excellence, she has attained positions of progressively greater responsibility ascending the corporate ladder at a rapid pace.  While working at Chino Mines, she was instrumental in the operation of the dispatch system, quickly becoming Senior Mine Engineer.  Shortly after being transferred to Morenci in 2009 as a Senior Mine Engineer, Giana again demonstrated unparalleled ability and became the Chief Engineer.  In her new role, she was pivotal in creating long-range mine plans to increase mine production and instituted “Technical Sessions” for the less experienced engineers.  In 2014, Giana was named Mine Manager of Bagdad, a position rarely held by women.  As Mine Manager, Giana now helps to develop and mentor future leadership.

Along with her meteoric rise within the Freeport-McMoRan organization, Giana is an active member of SME and is also involved with the Thunderbird International Consortia.    When away from work, she most enjoys spending time with her husband, Cory Demieville, and her two young daughters, Alana and Cora, and somehow still finds time to participate in triathlons, mud runs in addition to pursuing new  interest in woodworking.


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