Robin John Batterham was born on 3 April 1941, at Brighton, Victoria, Australia. His father was Maurice Samuel Batterham, Engineer, his mother was Margery Kate Batterham, Secretary.
He was educated at Wilson Street State School, Brighton 1946-48, Torquay State School 1949, Brighton Grammar School 1950 -59 and then the University of Melbourne obtaining his BE in 1965 and his PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1969 for a thesis “Heat transfer in return bends” supervised by Prof David G. Wood. He also studied music performance (Organ) under Herbert Davis at the Melba Conservatorium of Music. He was a CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellow at ICI Central Research Laboratories, UK from 1968-1970.
Early influences included his father as an engineer, his mother with her considerable abilities in music and his grandfather who was a composer, organist and librarian for the ABC. He remembers well page turning for his grandfather at concerts in the Town Hall. Early schooling always assumed that a dual career in music and engineering would be possible. In terms of science, he was lucky to have inspirational teachers at secondary level in mathematics and science. Even in year 7 he was tutoring year 12 students in maths and science, earning him the obvious nickname of Professor.
Post University, Robin Batterham has followed a dual career: in science and technology leadership, as Chief Scientist of Australia and as President of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering; together with a career in research and development in applied science targeting industry, including his leadership and inventions in mineral and metal production processes.
He is a Fellow by election of 5 Academies, of 6 professional bodies and is the recipient of significant awards, including the Order of Australia.
He holds an Associate Diploma Music (Organ) Australia and has served as Organist, Scots Church Melbourne (1995-) and Organist, Australian Chamber Choir (2009 -) making regular performances in services, concerts, recordings and broadcasts.
He joined the CSIRO Division of Mineral Engineering as a Research Scientist in 1970, rising to the position of Chief Research Scientist in 1981 and Chief of the Division of Mineral and Process Engineering from 1985 -1988. As Chief he led a total of 240 scientists in 4 laboratories that collaborated directly with companies in the mining and metallurgical industries to achieve real gains in performance. The R&D carried out resulted in direct improvements in mining, mineral processing, coal processing and transport, agglomeration processes such as sintering and roasting, as well as major developments in iron making. In his role at CSIRO he was responsible for establishing and maintaining world-class capabilities in all areas of mineral processing. Groups under his direction achieved notable success, including the award of the prestigious Australia prize.
Since leaving CSIRO, Robin has held the following senior positions:
Group Consultant then Vice President Resource and Processing Developments, CRA (later to become Rio Tinto) from Feb 1988 – June 1994. These roles covered technical evaluation and development for all major, new CRA projects.
Vice President Research and Technology Development, CRA (later to become Rio Tinto), from June 1994 – Dec 1999. Responsible for research and technology development within the Rio Tinto Group. This included both new process development as well as the improvement of existing processes e.g. mine planning and scheduling, the application of expert systems, mine automation, mineral processing, coal processing, pyrometallurgy, bauxite processing, aluminium production, the production of metals from various sulphide ores, the production of industrial minerals together with supporting technology based on computational fluid dynamics, stockpile modelling, coal process reaction engineering, bio-chemical processing and the like, aluminium smelting, and waste remediation.
The economic treatment of fine-grained zinc minerals was made possible by my leadership of work in ultra fine grinding and in agglomeration and roasting. The application of quantitative mineralogy to mineral processing was shown to be feasible and allowed optimal flowsheet development of several mineral deposits within the Group.
Managing Director Comalco Research and Technology Support from Dec 1999– Aug 2001. Responsible for the corporate R&D team of approx 240. Personal leadership of the low energy aluminium production cell which achieved at full scale 12 Kwh/kg Al cf best industry performance of 14. Note Comalco was a 70% owned subsidiary of CRA, later to become Rio Tinto.
The scrubbing of gases containing fluoride species using toroidal fluid beds and the re-processing of aluminium smelter waste was brought to fruition under my direct leadership.
Rio Tinto, Global Practice Leader – Innovation and then Group Chief Scientist (from 1999-2009). The role focused on delivery of major step change technologies into the operations through R&D (in-house and external), proof of concept and implementation. Innovation strategy for all operations is developed and progress reported to the Board. The two most significant research contributions in this period were the ongoing invention supporting the HIsmelt process (see the patents and note this is the first direct smelting process to be successfully developed since the Han dynasty) and the breakthrough in leaching of chalcopyrite without surface passivation (again see patents).
Melbourne University Kernot Professor of Engineering (from 2010). In this position Batterham is responsible for strategic leadership of major projects in energy. Current focus includes the application of force chain modelling as a key to energy reduction in comminution and the dewatering of biomass and low rank coals. Also, he is leading a project on the use of low temperature sintered titanium diboride as a paradigm shift in aluminium production technologies.
Chief Scientist of Australia May 1999 – June 2005
The Chief Scientist advises the Australian Government on all matters associated with science, engineering and innovation, is Executive Officer of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, is Chair of the Standing Committee of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, is a member of the Commonwealth, States, Territories Advisory Council on Innovation, the Coordination Committee on Science and Technology, the Cooperative Research Centres Committee, the Australian Research Council, the Science Prizes Committee, the Innovation Summit Implementation Group, (2000-2001), is Chair of the Consultative Panel on national research priorities, the Reference Group for the science and innovation mapping taskforce, is President of the National Youth Science Foundation and the National Science Summer School and is an advisor to the Australian Institute for Commercialisation.
The most significant activity has been a complete review of the science and technology base of Australia and charting the directions for science and technology in Australia over the next ten years. The review resulted in 20 major recommendations to Government, (see The Chance to Change) all of which were accepted. The Government has acted on the recommendations and invested over AUD$8.3 billion in further R&D, its commercialisation and the like. This is the most significant Government investment in science and technology in Australia for many years. Other major initiatives included a renewed emphasis on marine science (see Review of Marine Science) and the revitalisation of the CSIRO (see Flagship Review) which again resulted in major funding advances. The setting of research priorities for the country and setting up the research quality framework initiative are continuing influences on R&D in Australia.
President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering ATSE (2007 - )
ATSE is one of the four learned Academies in Australia and consists of order 800 eminent scientists and engineers. The President is a member of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council and takes a leading role in advising the Government and the wider public on matters to do with science, engineering and technology. Under Batterham’s leadership, ATSE has focussed its efforts on four topics central to Australia’s future, water, energy, climate and education. Significant symposia, reports and public events on all of these topics have had demonstrable impact. As well, ATSE facilitates international collaboration and Batterham has led delegations, often on behalf of the Government to China, Korea and India as well as hosting delegations to Australia.
Robin Batterham has 20 refereed publications, 20 patents, 95 confidential publications and reports, 118 lightly refereed publications and has made 350 open presentations.
|2000||Fellow, Australian Academy of Science|
|1988||Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (Councillor 1988-93; President 2007- )|
|2004||Foreign Member, The Royal Academy of Engineering|
|2004||Foreign Associate, National Academy of Engineering (USA)|
|2002||Corresponding Member, Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences|
|2001||Fellow, The Australian Institute of Company Directors|
|1999||Fellow, The Australian Institute of Management|
|1999||Fellow, The Institute of Engineers Australia|
|1998||Fellow, The Institution of Chemical Engineers|
|1989||Fellow, The Australasian Institution of Mining and Metallurgy|
|1982||Fellow, The Iron and Steel Society of America|
|1973||Fellow, The Institute of Instrumentation and Control, Australia|
|2004||Officer of the Order of Australia|
|2004||Named in Top 100 Australia’s Most influential Engineers by Engineers Australia in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011|
|2003||The Chemeca Medal from the Institution of Chemical Engineers|
|2001||Centenary Medal of Australia|
|2004||Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) Melbourne University|
|2006||Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) Sydney University of Technology|
|1993||The President’s Medal of The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy|
|1996||The Kernot Medal of the University of Melbourne|
|1992||The Esso Award of Excellence in Chemical Engineering|
|1968||CSIRO Post Doctoral Fellowship|
|2008||The Arthur LePage Memorial Lecture, Sydney, 23rd October, 2008. Coal – the bridge.|
|2005||The Lubbock Lecture (by invitation), Oxford University, 13 May 2005. On sustainability|
|2004||The Bridgewater Symposium (by invitation), Cambridge University, 1 October 2004 Sustainability – the next chapter.|
|2004||The Presidential Address, The Institution of Chemical Engineers, London, 7 May 2004. Sustainability.|
|2004||The Lewis Jacklin Lecture, The University of Utah, 16 Jan 2004, Sustaining humanity in an acceptable manner.|
|2003||The Danckwerts Lecture, The Institution of Chemical Engineers, London, 25 Feb 2003. Ten years of sustainability – where do we go from here?|
|2001||The Sir Harold Wyndham Memorial Lecture, Macquarie University, 16 Oct 2001. Science, vital for the future, but what of literacy?|
|2001||The Essington Lewis Oration, The Australasian Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, 20 Sep 2001. A vision for mining in the 21st Century.|
|2001||The Wolfsohn Memorial Lecture, La Trobe University, 29 Aug 2001. Science, Arts and Humanities: survive in your own way or thrive in a textured environment.|
|2001||The Alfred Deakin Lecture, Melbourne, 13 May 2001. The isolation of Australian Science.|
|2005‑09||International Network for Acid Prevention (Chairman)|
|2001‑04||Mineral Industry Research Organisation (UK)|
|2002-||Trustee, Sir Ian McLennan Achievement for Industry Award, Australian Mineral Development Laboratories|
|1999‑2001||Australian Mineral Industry Research Association|
|1999‑2009||Southern Copper, Gulf Minerals and Metals alternate|
|1998‑2009||Commonwealth Aluminium Corporation|
|1997‑2001||Board member of Australian Mineral Development Laboratories (AMDEL)|
|1993‑97||Chairman, GK Williams Cooperative Research Centre|
|1989‑92||Advanced Diamond Composites|
|1988‑95||Cooperative Research Centre for Adaptive and Robust Control Systems|
|1985‑87||Strategic Industries Foundation alternate|
|2011||Member, Minister’s Task Force on maximising the innovation dividend of Australian R&D|
|2011||Chair of the Review of Geothermal Energy in Australia|
|2010||Member, Advisory committee of the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance|
|2010||Member of the Executive of the OECD project on Science and Technology for Global Challenges|
|2010||Member of the Review of Energy R&D for the UK Research Councils|
|2010-||Chair of the Australian Learned Academies Council (ACOLA)|
|2009-||Chair of the Advisory Panel of the Australia India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF)|
|2008-||Chair of the Expert Group on Science for Energy of the International Energy Agency|
|2007-||Co-Chair of the Selection Committee for the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science|
|2005-||Vice Chair of the International Mineral Processing Council|
|2004||President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers|
|2004‑06||Member, Advisory Committee, National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS)|
|2003||Vice President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers|
|2002‑10||Member, Victorian Innovation Economy Advisory Board|
|2001‑08||Member Queensland Smart State Research Infrastructure Fund|
|1999‑02||Member, Australian Minerals & Energy Environment Foundation (AMEEF)|
|1999‑2005||Member, Commonwealth State & Territory Advisory Council on Innovation|
|1999-||Member, Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council|
|1998‑2009||Chairman of the International Network for Acid Prevention|
|1997‑2006||Member, Co-Operative Research Centres Main Committee|
|1989, 2010||President of the International Mineral Processing Congress (twice)|
|1997‑2006||Member of the Cooperative Research Centres Main Committee|
Batterham RJ, 2011, Personal communication
Smith A, 2003, ‘Batterham, Robin John (1941 - ), Chemical engineer and Mining engineer’, Encyclopedia of Australian Science
- Professor Robin Batterham discusses Flagship Review (Video)
- Smith A, 2007, Biographical entry: Batterham, Robin John 1941- (Encyclopedia of Australian Science) [external link]