The Jameson Cell for flotation of minerals and coal

A case study of successful industry and university engagement


  • The froth flotation process is relied upon by mining operations globally to separate valuable minerals from host rock. Improvements in this process directly lead to more efficient and cost effective productions as well as increased profit.
  • The Jameson Cell is a radical new flotation device. It was developed at the University of Newcastle in conjunction with mining industry partners.
  • The Jameson cell is now implemented in over 25 countries world-wide including Australia, USA, South Africa, China and Mexico.
  • From 1990-2011, the cumulative total value of export coal recovered by the Jameson Cell in NSW and Queensland was AU$22.1 billion. In 2011 alone it was AU$4.3 billion.

Professor Graeme Jameson - Inventor of the Jameson CellThe Jameson Cell - From research to implementation

Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson, developer of the Jameson Cell, began research into the flotation of fine mineral particles (less than about 20µm in diameter) in 1969 at the Imperial College in London.

With the encouragement of a leading physical chemist Dr J A Kitchener, Jameson began research to address the problems of fine particle flotation from a hydrodynamic viewpoint. Thus, Jameson set in train a series of theoretical and experimental projects to investigate the reasons for low rates of flotation, with a particular focus on the fluid dynamical processes involved in the capture of particles by bubbles. Jameson also accepted the challenge of coming up with practical solutions to remedy the situation, if these could be identified.

Upon returning to Australia and the University of Newcastle in 1978, Jameson engaged with the Australian Minerals Research Association Ltd.  Support was only forthcoming for projects of practical value which addressed problems that had not been solved.

Jameson began to conduct research in mineral concentrators and in 1985, at Mt Isa Mines in Queensland, he saw a new flotation technology that was being installed to overcome the fine particle flotation problem. He felt that this technology had serious weaknesses and began to think about alternatives.

Development led to the Jameson Cell, a radical new process for flotation, which had never been tried in the 100-year history of flotation.

Jameson's flotation process was further refined between 1986-87 at Mt Isa Mines and, as a consequence, Mount Isa Mines pursued a license for the technology from the University of Newcastle. The license was negotiated with MTM Technologies, the technology development arm of Mount Isa Mines Limited. After acquiring the license, MTM set up a small division to demonstrate the capabilities of the Cell worldwide.

With MTM staff, Jameson conducted demonstrations at mines in Canada, Chile, the Philippines, Sardinia, UK, and USA, as well as in most states of Australia. Of particular interest was the coal industry in NSW and Queensland. The deposits in the Bowen Basin were rapidly being developed and the Jameson Cell showed a particular aptitude for recovering fine coal in waste streams.

The Jameson Cell fast became the product of choice for the Australian coal industry. It is now marketed worldwide by Xstrata Technologies of Brisbane.

There are now over 300 Jameson Cells operating around the world in countries including the following:

Australia India Mexico Philippines
Argentina Iran Mongolia South Africa
Bolivia Israel Mozambique The Netherlands
Canada Kazakhstan Namibia Uganda
Chile Laos Papua New Guinea USA
England Malaysia Peru Zambia

Value of export coal recovered by the Jameson CellThe applications include copper, zinc, nickel, lead, silver, antimony, platinum, oil sands and solvent extraction as well as coal.

The Jameson Cell offers mine operators numerous benefits including an increase in capacity and/or efficiency, throughput and profit.

The governments of the host countries also benefit from the jobs created in building, operating and maintaining the installations.

One example of the economic benefit to Australia is the value of export coal recovered in NSW and Queensland. Between 1990 and 2011 the total value of Australian export coal recovered using the Jameson Cell was AU$22.1 billion. In 2011 alone, it was $4.3 billion.

Further Information

For further information regarding the Jameson Cell, please visit

For further information regarding collaborative engagement with the University of Newcastle and its researchers, please contact Newcastle Innovation.