Mining giant started with space, telescope and dream

BIG BUSINESS: Dr John Russell with a Russell mill relining machine destined for export.
BIG BUSINESS: Dr John Russell with a Russell mill relining machine destined for export. Contributed

A TOOWOOMBA-based company has carved out a niche in the international mining industry, creating hundreds of local jobs.

Russell Mineral Equipment began in 1985 as a designer, manufacturer and supplier of mineral processing equipment.

Today, RME's global reach extends to more than 270 mine sites.

Founder and managing director Dr John Russell said the company commanded a dominant position in the hard rock mining industry.

It all started with a dream, a telescope and the boundless expanses of space.

"My interest in the engineering profession began when I was a teenager reading about the giant refracting and reflecting telescopes which allow us to look into the depths of space," Dr Russell said.

"They are brilliant examples of engineering skill and after building my own telescope at the age of 16, I decided to become an engineer."

Originally from Brisbane, Dr Russell joined the mining industry in 1980 as a mechanical engineer for Mount Isa Mines, where he was officer in charge of maintenance for MIM's copper concentrator.

During that period he observed the relationship between grinding mill liners and annual concentrator productivity, designing optimisation solutions.

Moving to Toowoomba in 1985, Dr Russell founded RME and progressed his vision of inventing and manufacturing world-class mining and mineral processing equipment.

Grinding mills are like huge concrete mixers, up to 13m/40ft in diameter, which tumble large lumps of ore and break them into smaller particles, a process necessary for separating mineralisation from barren host rock.

Heavy liners are attached to the inside of each grinding mill to protect the mill from damage and wear.

The shaped liners also provide lift for the tumbling ore and are central to efficient grinding.

Topics:  business employment jobs mining

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