Dr (Hon) John Russell
Founder, Executive Chairman and Managing Director
Dr John Russell is the Founder and Managing Director of Russell Mineral Equipment which he started from his home office in 1985. Through determined innovation, a single-minded vision to make the difficult job of mill relining easier, faster and safer, John has shaped RME to become the world’s leading design and manufacturer of grinding mill relining technologies. Extraordinary engineering and a highly-skilled workforce community, have been central to John’s success.
John’s mission to mechanise the mill relining process began five years’ earlier in 1980 as a graduate mechanical engineer at Mount Isa Mines (MIM) where he observed first-hand the relationship between grinding mill liner life, liner exchange rates, the impact on plant availability, production and ultimately mine site profitability.
In 1985 John established Russell Engineering, offering design and consulting services to the mining industry, including MIM. Early projects revolved around the ISA SIZER vibrating screen which John had invented, manufactured, patented and commissioned whilst at MIM. The design itself was cutting-edge and proved to significantly enhance metallurgical performance, eliminating the maintenance and reliability issues encountered by the technology that had been used to date.
Crucially around the same time, Russell Engineering was granted the manufacturing license for the ISA SIZER – an event that marked the birth of Russell Mineral Equipment and the transition from Russell Engineering’s limited design and consulting offering, to RME’s full service offering, including design, manufacture and supply of RME’s mineral processing equipment.
In 1990 RME won their first mill relining machine design-and-build contract with MIM. This RUSSELL Mill Relining Machine (MRM) #1 was commissioned late 1990. One year later, RME was awarded a second contract at the Leinster Mill in Western Australia by Western Mining Corporation (WMC) – strategically important because it was the largest capacity liner handler and first large liner placement machine in the world, marking the beginning of RME’s recognition and presence on the world stage. In 1991 WMC placed an order for RUSSELL Mill Relining Machine #3 for Olympic Dam in South Australia, and thereafter orders dramatically accelerated with a new machine contract won every week from November 1992.
In 1996, with the support and dedication of Peter Rubie, who joined forces with John back in 1990, to the role of Chief Engineer, John’s focus could turn to management of the fast-growing RME business. In the years since, revenue has grown more than 20-fold and personnel head count is around 400 staff world-wide today. A state-of-the-art engineering, manufacturing, assembly, international training and business administration facility was opened in Toowoomba in 2009. International offices were established to service RME’s growing global customer base, starting with RME South America in 2004, RME North America in 2009 and RME’s South Africa in 2012, followed by the incorporation of RME Canada and RME United Kingdom in 2013, and RME Panama in 2018.
Under John’s direction and influence, RME has relentlessly continued to pioneer innovations and deliver new and safer technology to mill relines and the wider comminution industry, even during the mining investment downturn. This includes the THUNDERBOLT Recoilless Hammers in 1997, the RUSSELL TWIN in 2007, a pair of two completely-independent Mill Relining Machines that operate simultaneously, and recently, RME INSIDEOUT Technology and THUNDERBOLT SKYWAY, advanced Mill Relining technologies which are the result of two plus years’ dedicated R&D investment by RME’s engineers and Technology Group.
John has authored, delivered and published numerous conference papers from 1989 through to present day, including SAG 2001 Conference, Vancouver, Canada, 2006 MAPLA Conference, Chile and 2008 Canadian Mineral Processors, Ottawa, Canada. John was awarded a Centenary Medal for service to industry, the Canadian Mineral Processors Art McPherson Medal for Contributions to Comminution and the Warren Centre Innovation Hero Medal. He has also contributed to various State and Federal Government initiatives. In 2008, John was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Engineering from the University of Southern Queensland.