In view of developments overseas, the need to increase activity in coal preparation technology in Australia, and the success of the coal preparation course, it seemed appropriate to investigate the formation of a Coal Preparation Society in Australia. The objectives were to have a medium for dissemination of technical information, and a forum where all those interested in the practice of coal preparation could meet on a regular basis to discuss current developments with their colleagues. Initially it was considered to form the Society either:
- in association with the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy; or
- in association with the Institute of Fuel; or
- as a branch of the Coal Preparation Society of the United Kingdom; or
- as a separate autonomous Society.
It was felt that, if the Society were to achieve its purpose, it must have one grade of membership and be open to all those interested in, or employed in, all levels of the coal preparation industry. This philosophy created problems. The AusIMM was interested, but their membership rules would result in many of the proposed members being designated as affiliates. Australian membership of the Institute of Fuel presented similar problems, so discussions with both organisations were terminated.
Although the Coal Preparation Society of the United Kingdom was helpful, it was agreed that administration would be difficult due to the distance between the two organisations. Consequently it was recommended that the most appropriate action was to form a separate Society.
Dr Burdon and J Mackenzie sent a circular letter to people associated with coal preparation, to determine the interest and possible membership numbers. In addition to Australian coal mines, preparation plants, research and educational institutions, the circular was also sent to suppliers and other interested parties. The encouraging response led to the formation of a Committee, selected to represent all sections of the industry. Those invited were:
- Roger Gadsden: Chief Research Officer (Raw Materials), Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd
- David Gemmell: Director and General Manager, Parbury Henty (Mining) Pty Ltd
- Frank Pollard: Deputy Director of Research, ACIRL
- L Tuelan: General Manager, Clutha Development
- Professor Ian McColl Stewart: The University of Newcastle
All invitees accepted, and the first meeting was held in the School of Mining Engineering, the University of New South Wales, on February 8, 1966.
It was agreed to form a Coal Preparation Society, and officers were appointed. The objectives of the Society were discussed and a constitution was drafted by Dr Burdon, based on that of the UK Society.
The inaugural meeting of the Society was held at the School of Mining Engineering, the University of New South Wales, at 7.30 pm on Wednesday March 16, 1966. This was so that Walter Wallace, then Chairman of the UK Coal Preparation Society, could fulfil his promise to address the new Australian Society during his visit to Sydney, with a talk entitled ‘Coal Preparation and Coal Preparation Society in the UK’. Some 75 guests attended. The Chairman explained the objectives of the Society and invited those present to become members.