Vale mining great Barry Sullivan

Former MIM executive general manager Barry James Kevin Sullivan will be laid to rest at a ceremony in Townsville tomorrow, (Thursday 13Jun24).

76-year-old Mr Sullivan died suddenly at his home on Magnetic Island on Monday last week (3Jun24).

The family spent 21 years in Mount Isa from 1974, during which time Barry helped establish the rugby competition while working at Mount Isa Mines, where he served as MIM executive general manager for five years.

Mr Sullivan was born in Liverpool in 1947 and studied as a mining engineer at the Royal School of Mines where he played rugby for the Chaps Club.


One of the most rewarding parts of his career was the chance to act as a mentor for those coming through the management ranks. 

Among them was Charlie Sartain, who would go on to head up Xstrata and Nev Power who would become chief executive officer of Fortescue Metals Group.


Son Jim said Barry was known for his management skills.

“Dick Potts worked all over the world as a mining engineer and once described Barry as the best man manager he had ever worked for, and certainly numbers of different colleagues of his from the Mount Isa days speak of him with great respect and affection,” he said.

“One colleague described him as a giant amongst engineers. He was very highly respected. I know when there was a strike on in Mount Isa at one stage there in the ‘90s and the local radio station was interviewing people – it was big news in the Isa at the time – and one comment that came back, ‘oh, we don’t really have much to worry about, Barry Sullivan’s in charge’. 

“So, there was a great sense of security, shall we say, with Barry there in the Isa, for a lot of people.

“Very level head and a very good means of managing, hence the man management aspect to it. He had a great rapport within the union movement and he could talk to both sides and this often led eventually to resolutions that probably would’ve taken much longer.”

Barry Sullivan’s family tells of a devoted man who was generous with his time and harboured a life-long passion for rugby. 


Mr Sullivan’s passion for rugby was continuous, said his partner of more than 54 years, Toni. 

“We’ve attended every World Cup since 2003, which is when he finally retired from the mining industry,” she said.

“He was obviously president of Mount Isa rugby union for many years and also at one stage there president of Queensland Country Rugby. 

“He played the game until he was almost 50, even on more-or-less a part-time basis. It certainly was his other passion in life.

“I recall this, Barry was at the stage executive general manager of Mount Isa Mines and they used to have a student-staff rugby match and it was all the new students and teachers and what have you who came to town. 

“And of course they didn’t know who Barry was. And this young fellow, I think he might’ve been a newbie to the mine, and he tackled Barry very heavily and somebody turned to him and said, ‘hope you didn’t think you’re going to have a job next week’. 

“Anyhow, Barry got up and said, ‘you’re all right mate.’”

Post MIM

After retiring from operational mining, Barry joined the board of mining investment company Lion Selection Group (LSG) where he served as chair and non-executive director from 2016 until January this year.

The family jokes that the meetings in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth usually lined up with a rugby match being played at a nearby venue.

Barry leaves behind four children and nine grandchildren.

The service will be held at Lakes Chapel, Morleys Funeral Home, Cnr Hugh St and Martinez Avenue, Townsville, at 10am.

The service will be livestreamed via

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