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Back to basics or back to the future?


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Author J P Franzidis


When, in 1985, Marty McFly is accidentally sent back to 1955 in a DeLorean ‘time machine’ in Back to the Future, he encounters young versions of his parents, and must make sure they fall in love or he will cease to exist. This Conference celebrates 40 years since the inaugural Mill Operators’ Conference in Mt Isa in 1978; over this period, great technological advances have been made in almost all aspects of mill operation, resulting in considerable improvements in grades and recoveries from ever-more complex ores. However, in 2018, the mining industry is facing challenges that might have been difficult to predict in 1978 (or were they?). The computer revolution, the information revolution, and the bio-technology revolution have all contributed to the increase in operating efficiencies, but, combined with the social revolution, they also call into question the existence of the mining industry as we know it.

This presentation looks back at the ‘way things were’ in the 1970s, and at what was then considered to be the ‘basics,’ and attempts to sketch what the mining industry might be like in 2058. As Back to the Future Part II demonstrates so vividly, it is much easier to review the past than predict the future. It is difficult to know what form the mining industry will have in 40 years’ time. Nevertheless, as this presentation will argue, it is important to take action now, to ensure that it (like Marty McFly) does not cease to exist. Some courses of action are proposed, including going back to the basics of a very different past.

*This is an
abstract only. No full paper was prepared for this abstract.*


Franzidis, J P, 2018. Back to basics or back to the future?, in Proceedings 14th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2018, pp 3–4 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).