Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Minerals Engineering’s Silver Jubilee Year

Volume 1 Number 1
I received my copy of Volume 40 (January 2013) of Minerals Engineering last week. Very few people will realise that this is the 25th Anniversary issue of the journal, which first appeared in print in January 1988.

These days Minerals Engineering is established as one of the leading peer-reviewed journals in our field. I have an Editorial Board of 24 high calibre scientists from around the world, and a data base of over 270 reviewers who supplement the Editorial Board and ensure smooth running of the peer-review process. Submission of papers and reviewing is all carried out in ‘the cloud’ via the Elsevier Electronic Submission (EES) system, and papers are rapidly published online, as well as in hard copy. But things were very much different a quarter of a century ago.....

In the mid-80s I was a senior lecturer at the Camborne School of Mines, and supervised a number of PhD research projects. At the time there were only two journals of high reputation for submission of mineral processing research papers, the International Journal of Mineral Processing, a long established journal run by Elsevier, and Transactions of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy Section C.

Having submitted papers to both these journals, I was frustrated at the lack of communication from the editors, who often failed to acknowledge receipt of a paper and then spent an inordinate amount of time supervising the review process. I was also dismayed that on final acceptance of a paper, there could be a delay of up to 12 months before publication, during which time the paper may have lost much of its impact. There was obviously a need for a journal with a dynamic Editorial Board, which could provide rapid publication of topical papers.

In 1978 the first edition of my book Mineral Processing Technology had been published by Pergamon Press, and by the mid-80s it was well established and in its 3rd edition. Pergamon was also a scientific journal publisher, so I approached them with the idea of setting up a new journal, Minerals Engineering, and much to my surprise they responded enthusiastically. The hard part was now ahead- instilling the same level of confidence in the mineral processing community!

The first thing to do was to set up an Editorial Board, and luckily I had been travelling around the world for a few years ‘networking’ so was able to recruit people who I had met on my travels. I managed to get together 22 enthusiastic and well known mineral processors and it is worth listing these, as many of them are still very active, some have unfortunately passed on and a few I have lost touch with:

Cyril O’Connor (South Africa), Don McKee (Australia), G. Ferrara (Italy), Gilles Barbery (Canada), Dave Osborne (Indonesia), Les Adorjan (Canada), Fernando Concha (Chile), Ronald Crozier (Chile), B. Dobias (Germany), Rob Dunne (Australia), Eric Forssberg (Sweden), Steve Hall (UK), Jeff McKay (USA), Gulhan Ozbayoglu (Turkey), Roger Parker (UK), Victor Phillips (UK), Fred Pooley (UK), S. Raghavan (USA), K. Rajamani (USA), John Ralston (Australia), Roberto Villas-Boas (Brazil) and John Watson (USA).

Once the Editorial Board had been formalised, I got the green light from Pergamon to go ahead, with 4 issues per year planned, the first one scheduled for January 1988. But if I thought it would be plain sailing from thereon, I was very wrong, as I now hit the first major obstacle. Any researcher of any note would want to submit his or her work to a journal of high repute, and for a journal to achieve such a reputation, it needs to be well established with the publication of high calibre papers. A classic “Catch-22” situation.

There was only one way I could solicit such papers, and that was to get out and about and persuade people face to face that publication in this new journal would be a good thing. Luckily the Principal at CSM at that time, Dr. Peter Hackett, was very understanding and let me have more or less free-reign in my travels. This was the start of my love affair with conferences, undoubtedly the best places to be to meet people and generally have a good time! The first conference that I organised was in Falmouth in 1986, where I met for the first time Jim Finch and Gilles Barbery, who kindly submitted articles for the first issue.

With Gilles Barbery, H. Oberndorfer and Nick Miles

With Jim Finch, Derek Ottley,
Jim Watson and Wally Kop

I attended my first International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC) in Stockholm in June 1988. Quality papers were beginning to trickle into the journal, but I detected a degree of coldness in Stockholm, not only due to the climate, but also from the ‘old guard’ of International Journal of Mineral Processing (IJMP) contributors. This climaxed with an approach from a senior executive from Elsevier, who strongly advised me to abandon Minerals Engineering, as there was no place for another mineral processing journal of similar scope. I argued about ‘healthy competition’ but he was not interested. This made me even more determined that the journal should succeed. If the mighty Elsevier was worried, then we must have something special evolving here!

The launch of Minerals Engineering at the Stockholm IMPC, 1988
Although good papers were now coming in, it is hard to believe 25 years later how difficult, frustrating and archaic the peer-review process was then. Not everyone had email- including some members of the Editorial Board! The Guide for Authors requested that manuscripts be submitted to me in triplicate on “good quality white paper”, and authors were encouraged to submit their work on a 5 ¼ inch diskette as well as hard copy, recommending WordPerfect word processing software.

On receipt of papers by mail, I would then mail copies off to two members of the Editorial Board (there were no supplementary reviewers at that stage), who would then send me their reports by mail, which I would then mail to the author. A long and tedious process, but once a paper had been accepted, the tedium worsened......

Pergamon had provided me with a cheap Amstrad PC and a daisy-wheel printer. Once a paper had been accepted, if on floppy disk I had to format it for production of camera-ready copy. If no disk was provided, then Barbara would painstakingly type out the paper in the journal format. I then had to print it out on camera-ready paper. A single paper could take well over an hour to print, as the daisy wheels would have to be changed to accommodate italics, bold, underlined, and the use of mathematical and Greek symbols- an absolute nightmare. Once a set of papers had been printed, they would then be sent to Oxford via a secure courier service.

It was hard work, but we stuck at it, and slowly email became common and after a few years papers were regularly passed from authors to me, then to the Editorial Board electronically. The journal began to grow in stature, and so did the paper flow, such that in 1990 the number of issues per year was raised to 6, and then in the following year to 12, the first special conference issue (Comminution ’89) appearing in 1990 (in 2000 the number of issues increased to the present 15 per year).

The first Minerals Engineering Editorial Board meeting, Singapore 1991
Rob Dunne (Australia), Glen Dobby (Canada), BW, Prof. Wakamatsu (Japan),
Terry Veasey (UK), Cyril O'Connor (South Africa),
Dave Osborne (Indonesia) and Don Mckee (Australia)
Just when the journal was establishing a reputation we had what appeared to be an insurmountable set back. The owner and founder of Pergamon Press was Robert Maxwell, a flamboyant Czechoslovakian- born character who lived at Pergamon’s Headquarters, Headington Hill Hall in Oxford, often flying into work in his helicopter.

Barbara, and Maxwell helicopter, at Headington Hill Hall, 1991
In 1989 he had to sell successful businesses including Pergamon Press to cover some of his enormous debts, and having once attempted a hostile take over of Elsevier he now approached that company, hoping to sell Pergamon — the jewel in his publishing empire crown. The £440 million sale was finalized in 1991 and later that year Maxwell was found dead, floating in the Atlantic Ocean having apparently fallen overboard from his yacht. His death triggered the final collapse of his publishing empire as banks called in loans. His sons briefly struggled to keep the business together, but failed as the news emerged that Maxwell had stolen hundreds of millions of pounds from his own companies' pension funds to save the companies from bankruptcy.

So, three years after being warned off by Elsevier, the journal was now in its mighty hands and the future looked bleak- would IJMPs major competitor be immediately and ruthlessly axed?

Well, here we are, so obviously Elsevier turned out not to be the ogre that I had imagined. Much to the contrary in fact; the Elsevier journal team has been a pleasure to work with over the last 22 years. I have had a number of production managers during that time, all of whom have been efficient and professional, no more so than my present manager, Dean Eastbury, who has also become a great friend of the family.

Hiking in South Africa with Amanda, Jon and Dean Eastbury
By attending MEI Conferences and IMPCs, all of the Elsevier managers have made the effort to get to know the people in our industry and this has helped considerably in establishing the journal in its number 1 spot.

Elsevier's Michael Mabe (centre) at Minerals Engineering '94, Lake Tahoe
Elsevier's Louise Morris (2nd left) at IMPC '06, Istanbul
Elsevier's Dylan Parker (centre) at IMPC '08, Beijing
Elsevier's Dean Eastbury (right) at SRCR '11, Cornwall
The last 25 years has been a roller-coaster ride, but I would not have missed it for anything. On behalf of myself and the Elsevier team I would like to take the opportunity of thanking everyone who has contributed to the success of the journal- the many, many authors who have submitted papers, the Editorial Board, past and present, and all those who give up their valuable time to participate diligently in the all-important peer-review process. Here’s to the next 25 years!

32 comments:

  1. Thanks Barry. A great piece for a great journal. Congratulations on this remarkable achievement! Richard

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    1. Many thanks Richard, and of course for your continued involvement with the journal. Hard to believe that when I first met you (at the Falmouth conference in 1986) you were still a student at Imperial College!

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  2. I'm loving the white trousers and shirt look in Stockholm! Was it camouflage for the snow?

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    1. 1980s fashions I'm afraid. I had only just abandoned the flares!

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    2. Yes, me too. Very snazzy - a man clearly ahead of his time. Fashion-wise!

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    3. Well, at least they were fashionable in the 80s! Now, as to your conference shirt.....

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    4. I'd worry if Dean's admiring your fashion sense ;)

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    5. Thanks for your kind comments, Dean, on thejournal’s website

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  3. Dear Barry thank you and congratulations. It is something that we all remember. I arrived in Cardiff to do my postdoctoral research with Fred Pooley the autumn of 1988 and I remember meeting you a week or two after my arrival. My fist paper in the journal was published in volume 2 issue 4. Please note that some of these old papers are still cited.

    I wish you all the best for the future and an equally bright future for the journal

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    1. Many thanks Kostas, and I really do appreciate your involvement with the journal. I wasn't aware that you worked with Fred Pooley. I assume he has now retired- do you ever hear from him?

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  4. Barry, please accept my warmest congratulations on this key milestone. When any company, institute, department, conference series or journal is operating successfully, it is hard to appreciate the efforts, courage, and personal and professional sacrifice required by its founder(s), unless one has started something yourself. You have been a true academic entrepreneur who have made a lasting impact on the mineral processing community. You, Barbara, Amanda and Jon have much to celebrate. Any effective leader should have a succession plan, and I am sure you have as well. However, it is good to see that it is not up for discussion yet. I wish you all continued success as Editor of Minerals Engineering.

    Jannie van Deventer
    University of Melbourne

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    1. Many thanks for your kind comments Jannie. Yes, we have a succession plan, but I have no intention of giving the journal up for a long time yet. Thanks for your involvement over the years. I am not sure, but I think you may be the longest serving member of the present Editorial Board.

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  5. Dear Barry,
    My congratulations!
    Minerals Engineering achieved a relevant position as a journal devoted to mineral processing, extractive metallurgy and environmental issues.
    Without a shadow of a doubt, MEI team activities and Minerals Engineering Journal are doing a paramount contribution to the mineral processing and extractive metallurgy professionals.
    Barry,
    I must say that you have a great driving force; you, in a very smart way, gave a chance to get people together along these years. This is one of the many reasons that you and the Journal reached those significant numbers.
    Keep goin’ !
    Cheers,
    Maurício

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    1. Thanks Mauricio. Good to have you involved with the journal, representing Brazil

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  6. Barry
    Nice story. In my view, the forum provided by Minerals Engineering has contributed and continues to contribute in no small way to the growth and development of our industry. Over my 40 years in the industry, Canada has provided a number of exceptional researchers. The loss of Giles Barbery in a number of areas of mineral processing at too young an age was tragic; similarly the loss of Keith Brimacombe in metallurgy was a great loss to the profession. I came to know Giles through project work at Cominco; and Keith I helped instruct in metallurgical thermochemistry when he was a 4th year student at UBC in 1965-66! Happily new researchers have continued to develop and bring new insights to the challenges of mineral processing.
    Kind personal regards
    Mike Fairweather
    Rossland, B.C.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Mike, and your continued involvement with the journal. Hope to meet up with you sometime

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  7. A really great job done and being done; your passion, perseverence and dedication to the profession coupled with your simple and trnsparent approach paid off and serving the profession.
    It is not saying much if I may place on record that the real engn part came into focuss . You have encouraged a great no of mineral engns and I salute you for your service and wish you and your efforts all the best in the years to come.
    T.C.Rao

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    1. Thanks TC for your kind comments. It's hard to believe that when I spent 2 weeks as your guest at the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad the journal was only one year old!

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  8. Congratulations to you Barry and the whole team at Minerals Engineering, not to mention all the reviewers, editorial board, and contributors who together have made a really great journal for the profession. Warm Regards, Stephen Grano

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    1. Thanks Stephen, and for your contribution as a reviewer. The major special issue is now Flotation, and this series of conferences was initiated in Adelaide in 2000, thanks to your enthusiastic support. Hope to see you at Flotation '13

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  9. Dear Barry,
    Many congratulations to you and the family. What a milestone! I remember Tim Napier-Munn presenting you with an inscribed pewter mug for services rendered to mineral processing, I think at Comminution ’97 – that was over 15 years ago! Thank you for providing such a wonderful service to our mineral processing community: great conferences, great social get-togethers and networking opportunities, and a top-class journal. As we say in this country, Viva!
    With best wishes,
    J-P Franzidis
    University of Cape Town

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  10. Thanks J-P. Yes I remember the presentation!! Many thanks to you as a reviewer, and most of all for contributing to the sucess of the Flotation conferences in your capacity as consultant. See you at Flotation '13 if not before

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  11. Great piece remembering those seemingly far-off times when most of us had some strands of "non-grey" hair or some hair at all!! Always remember the cost of a Singapore Sling in the Cricketers Bar! Could have bought a case of good red wine in South Africa for that!

    You have done a wonderful job with the Journal and I'm sure you'll be the first to thank Barbara, Amanda and Jon for their incredible support. The world of Minerals Processing owes you all a huge debt of gratitude and on behalf of the International Minerals Processing Council may I wish you all many, many more years of great success in promoting the cause of minerals engineering!! And a special thanks for keeping the standards (and impact factor) as high as it is!!
    Best wishes, Cyril
    Cyril O’Connor, University of Cape Town

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    1. I think, Cyril, you were the first person I recruited to the Editorial Board and your initial role was as regional editor for Africa. I really appreciate your long term interest in the journal. Only yesterday you accepted an invitation to review a paper. Also hard to believe that it is just over 30 years since I presented the first mineral processing course at UCT and you actually sat in on all my lectures! Many thanks for your comments; MEI looks forward to a continuing association with the IMPC.

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  12. Many congratulations Barry!! Great to see the success of the journal continuing to reflect all your hard work and the substantial input of the minerals engineering community.

    I certainly enjoyed my time working on Minerals Engineering - fond memories of fun times in Istanbul - I've never been in a taxi with so many people since!

    All the best, and here's looking forward to 30!
    Louise

    (And what was in that huge red bag? Looks like I'd brought along the print issues for some light reading ;)

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  13. That was a great afternoon in the Old City. The bag? Maybe the leftovers from the meal at Omar's? I have been back to Istanbul 3 times since, and Omar's is definitely my #1 restaurant. Please give my regards to Dylan if you see him; it's been a pleasure working with all of you, despite having to put up with Dean's shirt. And congratulations- I see you are no longer a Morris.

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  14. Hi Barry,

    So pleased to see the success of Minerals Engineering which has risen to be second to none in such a short time under your leadership. Indeed, it is a great successful story which, probably same as your book "Mineral Processing Technology", would educate more than a generation of people in this field.

    Happy 25th birthday!

    Cheers
    Aibing

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    1. Many thanks Aibing. Looking forward to seeing you and your team in Falmouth in June

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  15. Many congratulations on the 25th anniversary of Minerals Engineering. Who’d have thought it? The combination of the journal, the conferences and the website, none of which would have happened without your drive, vision and knowledge of the business, has materially changed our profession and industry for the better. I think we all tend to underestimate the effect such institutions have on what we do, and it is about time we gave credit where it is due, especially as I know there were many naysayers in the early days as there always are when someone does something different.
    Tim Napier-Munn, Australia

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  16. Thanks Tim. I owe you a great deal too, particularly the 6th edition of Mineral Processing Technology. Best wish to you and Georgie

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  17. Hearty congratulations to the silver jubilee of Minerals Engineering. As participant of many MEI Conferences, I thank you, Barry, and with Amanda and Jon for the excellent work that you have done. I've always appreciated the high scientific and technical level of these events. But not only that: the familiar, very personal atmosphere was always an unforgettable experience. Happy to remember the fantastic meetings in Cornwall, South Africa and Australia. Unfortunately, my health has deteriorated so much that I can no longer make such travel. For you and your family all the best personally and in your job !
    Best regards !
    Thomas Neesse, Germany

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