Juan Frausto Gonzales wins 2017 Ian Morley Prize

9 November 2017

The 2017 Ian Morley Prize was awarded to Juan Frausto Gonzales for his thesis entitled "Linking comminution objective function with recovery potential". The Ian Morley Prize recognises the all-round performance of the student in academic terms and in the life of the Centre.

Professor Alice Clark, Juan Gonzales and Don

Juan's nomination stated that he embodies the spirit of the Ian Morley Prize.  He has made significant sacrifices in order to conduct his PhD at the JKMRC.  He has excelled academically and has made a positive impact on the life of the Centre.  He has a pleasant personality and is always willing to help others and represents the JKMRC extremely well externally. He is a committed student who is proactive and passionate about his work.  He has produced some interesting outcomes from his thesis – being the first to carry out a comprehensive comparison of stack sizers versus cyclone operation. 

Juan has also involved himself in many activities involving past alumni such as Professor Lynch and Professor Rao.  He has organised two student conferences, the JKMRC International night and has officially represented the JKMRC students. In 2016 Juan won the SMI’s Outstanding Student Contributor award.  He has participated in two JKTech circuit surveys, at Cannington and Mt Isa, and has organized  a student trip to Mexico with the assistance and expert advice of Professor Alban Lynch.  This initiative achieved great outcomes for the students involved and has significantly added to Juan’s own PhD research.  In response to his report on the operation of Minera Saucito, the Mill Manager is planning to make significant changes and to investigate certain  aspects that were highlighted. Juan won the best presentation award at the recent 2017 Metplant conference with a paper describing the work carried out at Minera Saucito.

Juan’s thesis is set to transform the way the minerals industry evaluates classification devices.  His results challenge two long-held assumptions: that the liberation of individual particle size classes stay constant independent of  any comminution device and that the recovery of valuable minerals in individual particle size classes remains constant, independent of the fineness of the size distribution.  The revolutionary nature of his thesis is largely due to the drive and determination he has shown in personally organising two site surveys at Minera Saucito as well as in obtaining a significant operating dataset.  The owners of the mine, the Peñoles Group, recognised the work and outcomes that Juan achieved  leading to a further consulting job through JKTech and hopefully many more research opportunities.  His abilities to create great rapport with industry collaborators and his instinctive strategic decision making contribute to making Juan a great asset to the JKMRC.

Congratulations Juan from all of us at SMI.

From left to right – Dr Mike Daniel, Dr Sarma Kanchibotla, Dr Steven Gay, Juan Frausto Gonzalez, Dr Kym Runge, Dr Grant Ballantyne and Dr Marko Hilden)

The Ian Morley Prize

More than a generation of postgraduate students and staff at the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre are familiar with the name Ian Morley. Ian’s direct association with the JKMRC commenced in the latter 1970s when, in a typically novel idea, Professor Alban Lynch invited the then retired Ian to become a Research Associate of the Centre in order to write a history of an aspect of the mining industry that had been part of Ian’s professional life. The resulting book, Black Sands, a history of mineral sand mining on the East Coast of Australia, was published in 1981.

Few people were better placed than Ian Morley to respond to Alban’s idea. A mining graduate from the University of Melbourne in 1926, Ian was State Mining Engineer and Chief Inspector of Mines in Queensland from 1940 until his retirement in 1969. This period was one of unprecedented growth and diversification in the Queensland industry: the start of copper production at Mt Isa during the Second World War and the growth of Mt Isa into one of the world’s great mines; on-going gold mining at Mt Morgan; a major mineral sands industry on the south coast; uranium mining at Mary Kathleen; oil production from Moonie; the development of the Bowen Basin into a massive coal province; laterite mining at Greenvale which led to the refinery in Townsville; bauxite mining at Weipa and the Gladstone alumina refinery; and the initial development plans for phosphate mining at Duchess. Ian Morley was intimately involved in them all.

His influence on the University of Queensland was equally important. Ian was one of a small group of industry leaders, including Julius Kruttschnitt, who convinced the University to establish a Department of Mining Engineering in 1950. His long association with the University continued until the latter 1980s as Ian was a regular attendee and participant in the Friday morning seminar series at the JKMRC.

Ian passed away in 1989. He left a bequest to the University to establish the Ian Morley Prize to be awarded annually to a postgraduate student at the JKMRC demonstrating all round achievement. The first Prize was awarded in 1990 to Andy Stradling and every year since the occasion has been a highlight of the annual JKMRC calendar.

Since the initial establishment of the Prize, the associated fund has been augmented by donations from his friends. In particular, Ian’s son and daughter, Don Morley and Mrs Colyn Storer and Alban and Barbara Lynch have been generous donors. So also was Xstrata a few years ago.

The three initial Trustees of the fund were Alban Lynch, and the late Os Blau and David Tennent, all friends of Ian. Os became a JMMRC institution, presiding over the annual award until his 91st year. The present Trustees are honoured to be involved in ensuring the legacy of Ian Morley lives on.