2011 ATSE Clunies Ross Award: Dr John Clout IMM - Geometallurgy
Dr John Clout is a renowned geometallurgical expert on iron ores, especially their specific end use potential. He is widely respected as a leading authority on Australian iron ore with a particularly detailed understanding of the relationship of the fundamental properties of Australian iron ores to their downstream processing performance. From 1992-2004, Dr Clout led a team of research mineralogists, geologists and metallurgical engineers at CSIRO Minerals. John played a vital and leading role in the establishment of the Iron Ore research group’s new research facilities at the Queensland Centre of Advanced Technologies in Queensland. The research group, along with the facilities he was instrumental in establishing, has a worldwide reputation and is still regarded as the best of its kind in Australia. Dr Clout’s leadership at the CSIRO Minerals Iron Ore Group, along with his ability to apply his understanding of the relevant science and technology, was responsible for a significant increase in the size and intellectual strength of the group which, in turn, increased its research capacity and reputation for excellence. In 2004, Dr Clout joined Fortescue Metals Group and, as Head, Resource Strategy for FMG, he played an important leadership role in terms of iron ore resource identification, development, process design, optimisation and technical commercial strategies. Since exports began in May 2008, iron ore exports by FMG have generated almost US$3 billion in export earnings for Australia. Nearly 85 per cent of FMG’s exports involve a product that has been specifically developed from test programs designed and directed by Dr Clout to yield optimum economic benefit yet achieve maximum market acceptance because of its superior sintering performance. Through John’s knowledge of the geology and processing characteristics of iron ore he transformed FMG’s industry position. He was able to both find and prove up massive deposits of Marra Mamba iron ore in the Chichester Ranges that other companies had dismissed as unattractive and uneconomic, a move that was absolutely critical to FMG’s success in becoming known as the “Third Force in Iron Ore”. It is this ability to combine academic and scientific strength with an understanding of the issues involved from extraction to end uses and commercialisation that makes Dr Clout so unique in his field. He has played a pivotal role in the identification and development of new resources, such that vast resources of previously ignored lower chemical-quality iron ore have been successfully commercialised to the eventual benefit of all of Australia. Dr Clout has received several awards throughout his career, including the QCAT individual Work Achievement Award in 1998 for his “outstanding scientific contribution to the processing of iron ores”. He is an active ongoing contributor to organisations including the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) and regularly serves on organising committees or features as a presenter in both Australian and off-shore international conferences. John is known to be an innovative thinker and has made an outstanding personal contribution to the Australian iron ore industry. Dr Clout will continue to lead new developments and play a pivotal role in the iron ore industry, helping to protect Australia’s international iron ore trade.