Mr Charlie Sartain


Honorary award citation


Mr Charles Sartain is a leader in Australia’s mineral industry, a champion of sustainability research, and a philanthropist.

For more than 35 years, Mr Sartain has contributed to the global minerals industry while maintaining a strong commitment to the communities in which he works. He is an advocate of The University of Queensland and its Sustainable Minerals Institute, and served two consecutive terms on the University Senate.     

After graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering Degree with honours from the University of Melbourne, Mr Sartain began his professional career in North Queensland, working as a mining engineer for Mount Isa Mines. Over the following 15 years, he progressed through various engineering and management roles, including service as general manager of the Ravenswood Gold and Ernest Henry mines. In 2000, Mr Sartain was appointed President of Minera Alumbrera Ltd in Argentina, leading the transformation of that company’s copper mining business. In 2002, he was appointed to the executive committee of MIM Holdings Ltd. In 2003, after Xstrata plc acquired MIM Holdings, Mr Sartain was appointed to the executive committee of Xstrata plc and CEO of its global copper business. He served nine years as CEO of Xstrata Copper, overseeing the company’s operations in eight countries. During his leadership, Xstrata Copper rapidly grew to become one of the world’s leading copper producers and the most profitable commodity business unit of the Xstrata group.   

Mr Sartain remains deeply committed to the communities in which he works and lives. He has been a leader in the global minerals industry and an advocate for social responsibility. His community leadership roles included service as a local government councillor on the former Dalrymple Shire Council in North Queensland. He has been an active board member of Wesley Medical Research for the past ten years, and managing director of his family’s charitable trust. Between 2010 and 2017, Mr Sartain served two full terms on UQ’s overarching governing body, the University Senate.   

He has served the global minerals industry as chairman of the International Copper Association and a member of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Council on Australia Latin America Relations. He is also a fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, and is currently a non-executive director of two ASX-listed companies and a major NYSE-listed mining company.

Mr Sartain joined the advisory board of the University’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) in 2005, and has served as chairman since 2010. He was influential in proposing and establishing the SMI International Centre of Excellence in Chile (SMI-ICE-Chile) and, as a fluent speaker of Spanish, continues to be an advocate for The University of Queensland within industry and government circles in Latin America.    

In 2013, he was awarded the Queensland Resource Council Medal for services to industry and training. In 2016, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) presented Mr Sartain with its highest honour, the Institute Medal, in recognition of his leadership in the minerals sector. 

Chancellor, I present to you Mr Charlie Sartain, Bachelor of Engineering with honours of The University of Melbourne, Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, for the award of Doctor of Engineering honoris causa, bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.


Doctor of Engineering honoris causa