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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 10

I 1. Introduction

II 2. The Role Of Technology

III 3. Some Highlights Of Australian Minerals Technology

IV 4. Other Technological Achievements (in brief)

V 5. Export Of Technology

VI 6. Education And Research

VII 7. The Scientific Societies

VIII 8. Conclusion



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6. Education And Research (continued)

On the research front, the Melbourne University activities continued under J Neill Greenwood and were the spearhead of research into several fields of minerals and metals studies within CSIRO, whilst the established mineragraphic investigations of Stillwell and Edwards and the flotation researches of Wark and Sutherland in the Melbourne University Geology and Chemistry Departments respectively were to be incorporated eventually into the CSIRO Institute of Energy and Earth Resources. CSIRO is now a dominant factor in the minerals research field in Australia, with major successes in exploration and mining and mineral processing techniques derived from projects within the Divisions of Mineral Physics and Mineralogy, Mineral Chemistry, Minerals and Geochemistry, Mineral Engineering, Geomechanics, Energy Chemistry, Energy Technology, Fossil Fuels and Groundwater Research. Other important research bodies associated with universities include the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre at the University of Queensland and the G K Williams Laboratory at the University of Melbourne, both commemorating notable identities in Australia's minerals history. The Geology Departments of most universities have been active in the fields of ore genesis and exploration, including the University of New England, Australian National University and James Cook University of North Queensland, to mention only a few, and in kindred fields the Bass Becking Laboratory and the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, both in Canberra, have made basic contributions.

On the side of industry, as noted earlier, research tended historically to be at the plant level rather than in the laboratory, as witness the successes of flotation in Broken Hill, pyritic smelting at Mount Lyell, the continuous lead refining at Port Pirie, and the electrolytic zinc extraction at Risdon, but in later years research laboratories as such have become more important entities in overall company operations, for example, at Port Pirie and Risdon. A significant addition to the list was the Shortland Laboratory of BHP in 1956, which was followed by the extension into materials and hydrocarbons in the BHP Melbourne Research Laboratories.

In the great wave of exploration and development in the 1960s and 1970s other major companies including CRA and its associates, Mount Isa Mines and Western Mining Corporation, expanded their analytical and research departments to cope with new engineering and exploration and metallurgical techniques, and with the environmental and social factors peculiar to operations often in remote and tropical areas but also in settled communities on or near the coast. Some of the impressive contributions from the research departments have been referred to earlier in this chapter under 'Gold', 'Copper', 'Lead-Zinc-Silver', 'Nickel', etc.

Whilst the individual companies have been increasingly active in their researches, they have also participated in one of the most productive research bodies of all, namely Australian Mineral Industries Research Association (AMIRA). Founded in 1959 as an instrument to foster co-operative research into problems of common interest to many companies, and to marshal the research and development potential of bodies such as the universities, CSIRO and other Commonwealth and State instrumentalities and in particular to serve as a partner representing the industry in joint development of Australian Mineral Development Laboratories (AMDEL), AMIRA whilst having no laboratories of its own set out to identify problems and to match them with existing research facilities under the sponsorship of interested companies in each instance. This novel concept, which was unique at the time and which has few parallels even now, has proved outstandingly successful within Australia and beyond. There are now some 100 members, associate members and registered divisions, some 200 projects have been completed and 50 projects are currently active. In a typical year some 40 laboratories or reference bodies may be engaged in AMIRA projects; sponsors of individual projects vary in number but have been as many as 26 in projects of wide interest such as mine support, wire ropes testing, comminution, abrasion resistant materials or computer applications.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australia. Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics (B.M.R.); Australian Mineral Development Laboratories; Australian Mineral Industries Research Association; B.H.P. Shortland Laboratories; Bass Becking Laboratory; Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd (C.R.A.); CSIRO; CSIRO Institute of Energy and Earth Resources; Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre; Mount Isa Mines (M.I.M.); University of Melbourne. G. K. Williams Laboratory; University of Melbourne. School of Metallurgy; Western Mining Corporation

People in Bright Sparcs - Edwards, A. B.; Greenwood, Prof. Neill; Stillwell, F. L.; Sutherland, Dr Keith L.; Wark, Sir Ian W.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 774, Online Edition 2000
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