Prestigious award for automated mineralogy pioneer

Australian scientist Paul Gottlieb adds the 2007 ATSE Clunies Ross Award to the list of honours won in recognition of his work developing and commercializing revolutionary mineral technology. The award recognizes top science and technology achievements and the citation read: “With unflagging dedication, Paul managed his design team, installed and promoted QEM*SEM (the precursor to QEMSCAN) around the world and organized user workshops and training sessions for its use.”. Gottlieb is Chief Technology Officer for Intellection, based in Brisbane, Australia; the technology company that has commercialized mineral tools which also have application to building materials, soil, environmental and forensic investigations.

The technology, QEMSCANT, is the world’s first commercial quantitative automated mineralogical analysis system which is many orders of magnitude faster than conventional systems and is used by resources giants including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and CVRD. QEMSCAN is based on CSIRO research, with Gottlieb receiving the 1997 CSIRO Medal in recognition of that research work. Other honours he has received include the Sir Ian McLennan Industry Achievement Award in 1999 for his contribution to Australian industry, and Member of the Order of Australia in 2006.

It was back in the early 1980s when Gottlieb was working as an experimental scientist at CSIRO Port Melbourne that he helped create a prototype analysis system for measuring mineral composition in plant and ore samples. The system has been refined over the years and today QEMSCAN conducts 12,000 mineral analyzes per minute with such accuracy that base and precious metal users have reported dramatic process improvement benefits. Platinum and gold producers are able to measure minerals present in ores as low as 1 ppm, generating worldwide industry benefit of more than $200 million annually.

“We are now further developing the systems to enable automated sample preparation, analyzing samples five times faster and using liquid nitrogen-free detectors that are easy for laboratory technicians to use at isolated sites,” Gottlieb said.

QEMSCAN uses an electron microscope and X-ray detectors to rapidly scan a mineralogical sample, and software to create an image data file that can be processed by a desktop computer. The next generation systems Gottlieb is currently creating will be portable, lower cost, faster, easier to use and will bring further efficiencies to processing plants, mine sites and projects.

Originally operating as part of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Intellection was established as a standalone commercial enterprise in 2003. It provides integrated solutions and services for the automated, quantitative analysis of minerals, rocks, metals and other compounds. The solutions and services are focussed on supporting organisations operating in exploration, production, environmental monitoring and rehabilitation. These solutions and services significantly improve productivity, accuracy and the quality of key information resulting from the automated analysis of samples fundamental to decision making.

Automated Mineralogy will be a feature in the August issue of International Mining – with extra distribution at Automated Mineralogy 07 in Brisbane. Editorial contributions are welcomed, with the deadline for that feature being July 1.