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Ron Manners’ ideas
and adventures
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This profile of Ron was published in Australian Minerals and Energy Annual Review 1997/1998 as part of their Mining Icons series.

If anyone deserves to be an icon of the goldfields, it is Ron Manners, jovial founder and executive chairman of Croesus Mining, vigorous promoter of the gold mining business and implacable foe of bureaucracy. Manners virtually cut his teeth on a drill bit. As a fourth generation prospector, he was born and bred in Kalgoorlie and educated at the West Australian School of Mines. His family history in the goldfields stretches back to 1895 when his grandfather, the son of a Ballarat prospector, came west to Kalgoorlie and set up an engineering business designing and building mining plants. WG Manners is still going strong today with Ron Manners’ older son Ian working in the business. His second son Scott is running a mining supply business in Kalgoorlie, another son Craig is a stockbroker in Perth and his daughter Sarah is in public relations in the city.

Croesus Mining was brought to life on Ron Manners’ kitchen table. Through a combination of good prospecting, good luck and hard work, he built the company up into what you might call a junior major by developing rich open pits at Binduli, eight kilometres south-west of Kalgoorlie, discovering gold missed by armies of previous explorers.

The tenements cover about 120 square kilometres, the majority of which have not been thoroughly evaluated, which is why serious fossickers are welcome to try their luck on the Croesus land because they might find a nugget or two that could lead to greater things.

Like most mining men, Manners has an ear for a good tale. Along with co-author George Compton, he has published a book based on the diaries of the remarkable Italian-born James Balzano who pushed a wobbly barrow through much of Western Australia at the turn of the last century. His epic journeys produced little in the way of gold, but made for a rich lode of stories. Balzano died in 1948 at the age of 89 and left behind first-hand accounts of what sort of man Paddy Hannan was and the juicy accounts of the Pitman and Walsh and Anktell and Burrup murders.

Manners also did a great editing job on the memoirs of his grandfather W.G Manners, written on the back of stockbrokers pads and detailing the roaring days of Kanowna and Kalgoorlie. Without his energy and not a little scholarship, a lot of the history of the goldfields would have died with those who witnessed it.

But Ron Manners is an unusual miner. Once a year for many years, he has flown up to Hong Kong, taken a suite in a leading hotel and invited fund managers and journalists up for drinks and a presentation on Croesus. Many of those present had never met a gold miner face to face, and it ensured at least that Croesus was one name they were familiar with on the ASX trading boards. Their host always enjoyed himself hugely.

Four years ago after his 60th birthday, Manners sold his controlling stake in Croesus for a sum adjacent to $8 million to the Canadian Eldorado corporation. Far from signalling retirement, the deal has opened up a fascinating new chapter for Manners who is a director of Eldorado which has links with the giant South African Glencore group. This means a great deal of travelling.

When we telephoned him in the preparation of this article, Manners was just off to Washington. If he gets on the cocktail circuit in the nations capital, he will have a fine forum for one of his principal hobbies which he describes as “collecting examples of how governments always achieve the opposite to their stated objective”. A flair for journalism has enabled Manners to continue his assaults on bureaucracy as an old fashioned pamphleteer. He recently put out a booklet at the Normandy Mining Conference in Fremantle entitled Do Smaller Companies Do it Better? covering topics like the dishonest tax debate and the rhetorical question, are we lacking in leadership?

Manners is in great demand as an after dinner speaker and he puts much back into the community having served two terms as the President of the Kalgoorlie Chamber of Commerce during which he did not leave state politicians wondering what they should do or not do for the gold mining industry.

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