Dr. Jim May


Dr Jim May completed a Bachelor of Engineering in metallurgical and chemical engineering at the University of Adelaide in 1957 and he was awarded a Master of Science in Chemical Technology at the University of NSW in 1961.

On graduation, he joined the staff of the South Mine at Broken Hill and then spent ten years at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. During this time, he was Guest Scientist with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority for 12 months and with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US for 15 months. He was Head of the Chemical Engineering Section at Lucas Heights when he resigned in 1968 to become the first full-time officer of the Australian Mineral Industries Research Association Limited (AMIRA).

He retired from the position of Chief Executive Officer of AMIRA in 1994. During this time he guided AMIRA to become the pre-eminent organisation of its type in the world.

In 1992, Jim was awarded the AusIMM’s highest honour – the Institute Medal. In 1993, he was awarded one of the first five Honorary Doctorates from the University of South Australia and in 1994 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Queensland.

He is a Fellow of both ATSE and the AusIMM. He has been a member of several committees of both organisations. In 2016 he was inducted into the Australian Prospectors and Miners’ Hall of Fame into the category of Technologists and Scientists.

Jim has a familial connection to the AusIMM dating back to its inaugural meeting in 1893, which was attended by his great-great-grandfather’s younger brothers Frederick and Alfred May. The family had come to Australia from Cornwall in 1858. They first went to Burra and then to Moonta, where Jim’s great-great-grandfather stayed, building an engineering works in Wallaroo. His brothers moved to Gawler and worked at the Martin engineering works before setting up their own company. When Jim first went to work at the South Mine in Broken Hill at the end of 1957, one whole section of the plant was fitted out with jigs designed, fabricated and installed by May Brothers and Company in Gawler.

Jim’s mother’s side of the family was also involved in the industry. The Pope family came to Australia from Cornwall in the 1860s and Richard worked in Ballarat, Bendigo and Broken Hill. Richard was Jim’s great-grandfather. His second daughter was Jim’s grandmother, but his eldest daughter, Olivia, married James Hebbard – who became President of the AusIMM in 1913.

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