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Alfred Trewartha James

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Alfred Trewartha James (1867-1931)

1931 Obituary[1]


The news of the death of Mr. Alfred Trewartha James in a nursing home at Johannesburg, on September 5 last, will be heard with regret by mining engineers in many parts of the world. Mr. James, who was a consulting mining engineer and a past-president of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, was the son of the late Captain A. T. James, and was born at Redruth, Cornwall, in 1867. He received his general education at Homefield, Camborne, and afterwards studied at King’s College, Strand, London. In 1886, when only nineteen years of age, he became chief of the laboratory of Messrs. Cassel Gold Extracting Company, Limited, a firm founded in Edinburgh in 1884, and now known as Messrs. Cassel Cyanide Company, Limited, and, since July, 1927, controlled and directed by Messrs. Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited.

Mr. James subsequently became technical manager of this firm, relinquishing that position, however, in 1897, in order to enter into partnership with the late Mr. John Stewart MacArthur, until, then managing director of Messrs. Cassel Gold Extracting Company. Mr. MacArthur, it should be mentioned in passing, was, along with Messrs. R. W. and W. Forrest, largely responsible for important and far-reaching discoveries in connection with the successful adaptation of the cyanide process to gold ores. The process is usually referred to as the MacArthur-Forrest cyanide process.

The new firm of consulting mining engineers had offices in London and Glasgow, but, in 1898, Mr. James retired from the Glasgow office and became sole proprietor of the London office. He had remained in practice ever since and, until quite recently had an office at 28, Victoria-street, London, S.W.l.

Mr. James will chiefly be remembered on account of his association with the introduction and application of the cyanide process throughout the world. In 1889, he proceeded to South Africa to supervise the erection of plants for the Salisbury and Robinson Gold Mining Companies and, it is interesting to note that the results obtained in 1891, at the Robinson Company with a plant for treating tailings by the MacArthur-Forrest process, definitely established the value of the cyanide method of treating gold ores. It has been said that this year, namely, 1891, can be looked upon as the starting point of the cyanide process, which subsequently proved a very great success. Mr. James afterwards went to New Zealand, Australia, America, and many other parts of the world, to design and supervise the erection of further cyanide plants. Among others, he was responsible for the construction of cyanide plants for the New Kleinfontein Company, South Africa, the Great Fingull and Mount Boppy Companies, Australia, the Mysore and Champion Reef Companies in India, the Borneo and Redjang Lebong Companies in Western Asia, the Ashanti Goldfields and Abosso Companies in West Africa, and the Santa Ger-trudis Company in Mexico. Mr. James also took an active part in the introduction and perfecting of regrinding apparatus and equipment for the treatment of slimes. He was on a business visit to the Rand, South Africa, at the time of his death, and passed away suddenly as the result of septicaemia. He became a member of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy in 1895, and served as president during the years 1908 and 1909. He was elected a member of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers in 1894. Mr. James was also for many years a fellow of the Chemical and Geological Societies, and a fellow of the Society of Chemical Industry.

He was the author of numerous contributions to mining and technical societies, on the subject of the cyanide process, and produced a book entitled Cyanide Practice, which is regarded as a standard work."

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