GMG Tucson Forum

Meet the Speakers

Benjamin Weber, Principal Solutions Architect | Amazon Web Services

Ben is a Principal Solutions Architect with Amazon Web Services. He provides technical leadership to support the cloud journey of the mining industry and its suppliers, and brings expertise in areas such as autonomous haulage, fleet management, production optimisation, and machine health to AWS.


Blaine Tait, Wireless Geotechnical Monitoring Expert | Worldsensing

Blaine Tait is Worldsensing’s Technical Advisor and Technical Sales Manager for North America. Based in Kingston, Ontario, he joined Worldsensing in 2021 after a seven-year stint at Mine Design Technologies (MDT), a Canadian instrumentation company specializing in geotechnical applications. While at MDT, Blaine initially worked as an Instrumentation and Support Specialist and Field Technician before rising to Marketing and Business Development Manager, responsible for the company’s commercial outreach to the mining and civil engineering sectors.


Erman Koc, CEO & CIO | 

Erman is a well-respected professional in the mine optimization and mining technologies industry, with over 17 years of expertise. He holds a M.Sc in Engineering and Technology Management (ETM) and Mining Engineering from CSM and is the CEO and founder of Previously, he served as Global Manager at Hexagon Mining, leading the Mine Planning business unit and specializing in pit optimization, scheduling, and grade control solutions. He has a track record of delivering KPI-based customer-driven implementations and providing executive account management to Fortune 500 mining companies. Currently, as CEO and CIO of Airth, Erman is dedicated to solving industry challenges through data-driven solutions.


Gabriel Andrés Barahona Gutiérrez, Technical Manager | Tellus Mining

Electrical Engineer from Universidad de Chile, and Master in Business Administration from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Counts more than 30 years working in process control solutions for mining industry and others. Has performed roles as: management, strategy, consulting, engineering, training, and sales. In project development has participated in different phases: evaluation, selection, engineering, and implementation. Also explored Data Analytics, Machine Learning and Neural Networks projects. Last five years has been completely focused on TA projects for open pit operations and other GHG reduction technologies, leading many projects as senior consultant. When working, enjoy try to solve things not solved before, learning; when not working, enjoy: mountain bike rides, videogames, dogs, eat, and be at home.



Garrett Kramer, GEOVIA Technical Executive | Dassault Systèmes

Garrett Kramer is an applied geoscientist and business development professional with a multi-disciplinary background in geology and geophysical methods across the natural resource industries. His primary focus lies in advocating for innovative technologies to enhance and streamline workflows within the mining industry. The initial stages of his career engaged in geoscience research at US government laboratories and subsequently gained extensive international exposure through client-facing positions with leading service providers across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas.

He’s a dual AUS-US citizen and holds a B.Sc. in Geology from the University of Minnesota and a M.Sc. in Geophysics from New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology. He’s an avid mountain/road cyclist and often seeks out adventure within the Colorado mountains with his family.


Jim Keravala, CEO | OffWorld 

Jim Keravala is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of OffWorld, Inc. He has undertaken leadership roles in innovation in multidisciplinary areas such as aerospace engineering, space systems, robotics and machine intelligence. OffWorld is the culmination of over a decade of architectural planning and development of autonomous robotic systems operating in extreme environments for mining and construction on Earth and on the Moon. We have currently deployed our autonomous mining robots and directed energy preconditioning robots in pilot programs in live underground mines and are expanding our species of mining robots.  

Experience for seven years managing launch programs and space access with Russian and Ukrainian launch vehicles, subsequently joining Surrey Satellite Technology as Launch Manager for six years overseeing over a dozen successful orbital launches on Russian, European and US launch vehicles. Participated in satellite design, integration engineering and program management as part of this process. Jim cofounded Shackleton Energy and developed architectures for mining in space using propellant depots and reusable transport systems utilizing lunar polar water for an assured continuous supply of fuel in space. He also cofounded the OffWorld Consortium building a space based solar power station fleet and seeded by Middle-East sovereign funding.  

Resulting from a collaboration with NASA Ames, Mr Keravala co-founded a synthetic biology program to enable over-expression of enzymes in bioleaching scenarios for terrestrial and space mining. Jim studied aerospace engineering, spacecraft engineering and physics at University of London, Surrey University, Aachen Technical University and International Space University, was previously faculty at Singularity University and is on advisory boards and Board of Directors of a number of space institutes including Board Member of the National Space Society, The International Moonbase Alliance and the Moon Village Association. Jim is an Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics, Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society and Member of the International Institute of Space Law. He is a member of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration. He is also on the Board of the Global Mining Standards Group Governance Committee. 

Luke Eisenhauer, Client Development Manager | Schneider Electric Renewable Energy & Carbon Advisory

As a Client Development Manager with Schneider Electric’s Renewable Energy and Carbon Advisory, Luke helps Commercial and Industrial clients meet ambitious sustainability goals by identifying strategic decarbonization opportunities throughout the value chain including offsite PPAs, EACs and Supply Chain Renewables Initiatives. His team focuses on understanding clients’ business needs and providing expert advisory support when tackling Scope 2 and Scope 3 challenges.

Luke began working in carbon and renewable energy in the mid 2000’s and has since led business development initiatives for a diversity of regional, national and international brands. He served as a founding member of an advanced biofuels company as well as multiple environmental startups tackling supply chain sustainability challenges, and he has consulted with enterprise clients on go-to-market strategy, supplier engagement, renewable energy project development, contract negotiation and ESG and communications strategy. Luke speaks Spanish, earned a BA with Honors in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College, and has completed Masters-level coursework in Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Mary Poulton, Chief Executive Officer | Desert Saber

Mary Poulton is a University Distinguished Professor Emerita in Mining and Geological at the University of Arizona. She was the first woman to head an engineering department in the history of the university. She is now CEO of Desert Saber LLC which creates cloud-streamed synthetic learning environments for occupational training. Poulton’s research on machine learning and artificial intelligence for the past 35 years has led to a book, more than 100 publications, patents, and innovations in the mining, oil and gas, and water industries. Poulton is a Fellow of SME and a past member of the SME Board of Directors. She is a recipient of the 2017 National Engineering Award, the 2019 Daniel Jackling Award and the American Mining Hall of Fame Medal of Merit. She chaired the Mine Safety and Health Research Advisory Committee for NIOSH following the mine disasters at Sago and Crandall Canyon which resulted in new mine safety technology and protocols

Mauricio Gomez Tabilo, Regional Account Manager Southwest (Arizona, Nevada, and California) | Innomotics 

Mauricio Gomez is a mining professional with 19 years of experience and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. He’s currently the Regional Account Manager for Innomotics in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Prior to this, he was Head of the Digitalization Hub for INNOMOTICS in Chile and Peru, playing a role in advancing the company’s technological initiatives and optimizing mining operations. He has collaborated on projects involving Large Drive technology for Mining applications at Innomotics headquarters in Germany. 

Michael Bobotis, Principal Mining Engineer and Consultant | Hatch 

Michael Bobotis is a Principal Mining Engineer and Consultant at Hatch, headquartered in Montreal, Canada. Michael currently manages all Hatch Open Pit Mining projects in North America and is Hatch’s Global Mine Decarbonization Practice Lead. Michael has worked on multiple international mining projects as a Project Sponsor, Project Manager, Engineering Manager, Mining Consultant, Mine Discipline Lead and Mine Decarbonization SME. Michael has had the privilege of working with world-class mine designers, planners, engineers, technologists, OEMs, consultants, regulators and stakeholders to develop safe, practical and cost-effective solutions for both projects targeting a multitude of commodities.

As part of the Hatch Digital and Climate Change initiative, Michael has endeavored over the years to promote globally both the best SOP and innovative technical and management practices for multiple mining operations, including existing and emerging technologies to strategize on how to viably decarbonize mining operations around the world. 

Misael Cabrera, Director, School of Mining & Mineral Resources | University of Arizona

Misael is a leader with over 30 years of experience in both the private and public sectors. He is skilled in organizational leadership, institutional excellence, online service delivery, mining, and environmental protection.

After a nationwide search, Misael was selected as the inaugural Director of the new School of Mining & Mineral Resources (School) at the University of Arizona. Jointly administered by the Colleges of Science and Engineering, the School is bringing together students, professionals, industry, and communities across disciplines and boundaries to meet the complex challenges of sustainable mineral supply.


In his prior role as the Director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), Misael stood out as the longest-serving and first Latino Director in the Department’s 36-year history. Under Misael’s leadership, ADEQ helped develop and pilot what is known today as the Arizona Management System (AMS) – used across state government. During his tenure, ADEQ dramatically increased environmental outcomes, delivered award-winning online services, and was recognized by local and national organizations 28 times.

Before joining ADEQ, he held a variety of technical and leadership roles at several international engineering firms.

Nick Venter, Business Growth Manager – Data and Digital | Epiroc USA

Nick is a mining engineer with over 18 years’ experience in the mining industry, including 7 years working in coal and iron ore mines in Southern Africa. Spending an additional 11 years working in the Mine Planning Technology space for a leading Mining Software and Technology provider.

Nick is known to have worked in the Mine Software and Technology space across Africa, Canada, and the United States leading teams of multi-disciplinary mining professionals to sell, consult and support mine technology solutions to many of the top tier mining companies. Nick recently joined Epiroc as a Business Growth Manager – Data and Digital based out of Denver.

Patrick McNeil, Founder and Chief Navigation Officer | Chart House Solutions

Pat is a 27-year Navy veteran with over 40 years of leadership experience and a passion for bringing play back to the workplace. He accomplishes this by using LEGO® Serious Play® Methods as a tool in his approach to leadership development. He is Certified in LEGO® Serious Play® Methods, Hands-on Thinking Coach®, Tilt365® Suite of Assessments, and is a Blanchard Channel Partner. He has a Master of Science degree in Organization Development and Leadership from Fielding Graduate University, and he is actively pursuing his ACC credential through ICF.

Pratt Rogers, Associate Professor | University of Utah

Dr. Rogers, a Ph.D. graduate in Mining Engineering from the University of Arizona, is an Associate Professor of Mining Engineering at the University of Utah. Recognized with the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award in 2022-2023, he also leads as the President of SoTech Analytical Services, LLC, specializing in mining technology consulting.

Previously, as VP Product Development at MISOM Technologies, he developed data warehouses for North American mining companies. His notable research includes software development and modeling of operator fatigue and REE economics studies in Utah and Colorado Coal Deposits, collaborating with institutions like the DOE and NIOSH.

A distinguished educator, Dr. Rogers teaches courses on Automation, Data Management, and Mining Health and Safety, continually updating his educational approaches. He strives for academic excellence, developing industry know-how, and dedication to sustainable mining advancements. 


Photo to come

Robert Hall, Interim Head, Department of Geology and Geological Engineering and Head, Department of Mining Engineering and Management | South Dakota Mines

Dr. Robert Hall, is Head of the Mining Engineering and Management Department at South Dakota Mines. Befored joining South Dakota Mines he was a professer in the Department of Civil & Environmental Enginering School of Mining and Petroleum Engineering at the Universty of Alberta. Prior to joining U of A he spent 15 years at the University of British Columbia; where in addition to his research and teaching he spent four years as an Associate Dean for the Faculty of Engineering.

His areas of research include, mining equipment design and automation, equipment maintenance and reliability, comminution and energy reduction. He has authored numberous journal and conference papers. His research and consulting activities have taken him to numerous countries around the world.

Russell Downer, CEO and Founder | Opencontour, Inc. 

Russ Downer’s love for computers, science, and engineering was sparked at a young age, paving the way for his career journey. With over twenty years of experience in the gold mining industry, Russ is a visionary leader who has made a remarkable impact. His professional career includes various operational and corporate roles with Barrick Gold Mines, Hatch, and most recently, as Director of Mining with Forte Dynamics consulting group. 

As the CEO and founder of Opencontour, Russ draws upon his industry knowledge to drive innovation and excellence. His decision to establish Opencontour was pivotal, driven by a relentless curiosity and a question that has always motivated him: “What if we did things differently?” 

Russ is a dedicated evaluator of designs, schedules, and processes, constantly seeking ways to make them work and work better. His unwavering commitment to improvement, simplicity, and innovation continues to be his driving force. 

Opencontour is a leading software company specializing in mine planning, scheduling, heap leach stacking, and recovery modeling. Opencontour’s software solutions have provided clients with valuable insights, which is a testament to Russ Downer’s unwavering commitment to excellence in the field.