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Australian scientist wins prestigious award

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article image 2007 ATSE Clunies Ross Award

Australian scientist Paul Gottlieb adds the 2007 ATSE Clunies Ross Award to the list of honours won in recognition of his work developing and commercialising mineral technology that is revolutionising the international resources sector.

Gottlieb is chief technology officer for Intellection , a young Brisbane-based technology company that has commercialised mineral tools which also have application to building materials, soil, environmental and forensic investigations.

The technology, known as QEMSCAN, is a 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.

The ATSE Clunies Ross Award 2007 recognises top science and technology achievements, and Gottlieb was one of six eminent Australians presented with the award in Melbourne on April 17. The other recipients are: Peter Delaney and Martin Harris; Dr Peter Farrell; Professor Ian Frazer; and Professor Arthur Lowery.

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 analyses 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 one part per million, generating worldwide industry benefit of more than $200m annually.

According to Intellection, it is now further developing the systems to enable automated sample preparation, analysing samples five times faster and using liquid nitrogen-free detectors that are easy for laboratory technicians to use at isolated sites.

The 2007 Clunies Ross Awards citation said that with unflagging dedication, Paul managed his design team, installed and promoted QEM SEM (the precursor to QEMSCAN) around the world and organised user workshops and training sessions for its use.

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.

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