James and Corale Brierley

The Brierleys met at Montana State University in Bozeman and subsequently married in 1963. Corale, the daughter of ranchers, grew up in southwestern Montana and sometimes rode Betty, her horse, to her one-room country school house. Jim, the only child of an immigrant single mother, developed his lifelong fascination with thermal springs when he accidentally stepped into one on his first trip to Yellowstone National Park at age 9.

While working on his post-graduate studies, Jim’s extensive research led to the discovery of the first high temperature (thermophilic) acid loving microorganism - Acidianus brierleyi – named by German scientists in his honor.  After earning his PH.D., Jim joined the faculty of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) in Socorro and Corale often enrolled in his courses.

In 1982, Corale was approached to form a company to develop biotechnology for mining and founded Advanced Minerals Technology and Jim served as its Research Director.   The company with some 23 scientists and engineers developed and patented technologies for bioleaching and metal removal but was forced to dissolve when the stock market crashed in 1987.  Jim then joined Newmont Mining Corporation as Chief Research Scientist and Corale soon followed as Chief of Environmental Process Development. 

Laid off by Newmont, Corale began accepting consultant work in bioleaching and with increased requests for her service,  founded Brierley Consultancy LLC in 1991 providing technical and business consultation to the mining and chemical industries as well as government agencies. Jim’s confidentiality agreement with Newmont prohibited the Brierleys for the first time since 1963 to confer on technical matters. Happily they were able to resume their collaboration when Jim retired from Newmont and became Principal of Brierley Consultancy in 2001.

Jim and Corale share many parallel career paths.  Both earned Ph.Ds. in science, both received “Distinguished Achievement Award” from their respective universities, both are recipients of  the SME (Society of Mining Metallurgy & Exploration) Milton E. Wadsworth Award, and both are inducted members of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for their demonstrated accomplishments  in the pioneering of new technology. The first Brierley and Brierley technical paper was published in 1973 and many of their technical papers over the decades became the basis for the bioleaching technologies applied commercially today for copper and gold recovery – theirs is a true scientific partnership.


Scott Shields

Manager, Mining Application Engineering, Joy Global Surface Mining.Scott M. Shields is a fifth-generation Arizona Miner. In 1995 he joined the Phelps Dodge Morenci Mine as a Surveyor and despite his young age, was successfully ableto implement new techniques (both conceptual and in field) to improve mine operations. Shields initiated ground-breaking work with GPS integration and co-authored Optimization of GPS on Track Type Dozers and GPS in the Pits: Differential GPS Applications at the Morenci Copper Mine. This novel idea of building roads by using GPS without first conducting surveys won best of session at the Institute of Navigation conference and resulted in Shields being sponsored by Senator John McCain to represent Phelps Dodge Mining Company for "GPS on the Hill."

During his tenure at Phelps Dodge and later with Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., Shields helped to develop sulfide leaching with bacterial augmentation, advanced electrowinning technologies, leach pad monitoring, and GPS integration.  While serving as the Autonomous Mining Program Site Coordinator, Shields supervised the construction of the San Juan Experimental Mine and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for a real autonomous mine of the future.

Shields left Freeport-McMoRan in 2007 to earn a B.S. degree in Mining Engineering at The University of Arizona. While attending school, he was employed by the U of A as an associate mine engineer and was placed in charge of overseeing the design and construction of the new San Xavier Underground Training Center, facilitating research funded jointly by mining companies, private organizations, and the government.

Although challenged with full-time work and school, Shields was the winner of the 2008 Copper Club Scholarship, the 2009 Leonard Judd Freeport-McMoRan Foundation Scholarship, the Mining Engineering nominee for the Thomas G. Chapman fellowship and scholarship, the 2010 MMSA/SMEF Presidential Scholarship, and was the UA College of Engineering 2011 Outstanding Senior in Mining Engineering.  In addition, Shields graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2011 and was inducted into Tau Beta Pi, a National Engineering Academic Fraternity. 

Shields now manages a team of Joy Global Mining Engineers supporting the applications of P&H Surface Mining and Joy Mining Machinery Underground products. Notably he has provided optimization and best practice in more than 60 mines and in 18 countries on five continents. Shields is an adviser for The University of Arizona ILB, Montana Tech MIAB, University of Missouri Science and Technology Advisory Committee, South Dakota School of Mines ECE Advisory Board, and he also serves as an Executive Committee Member and officer of the SME.

David E. Nicholas

David E. Nicholas, past president and co-founder of Call & Nicholas, Inc., had no knowledge of mining or geological engineering until his University of Arizona dorm mate introduced Nicholas to his father, William C. Peters, head of UA’s Mining and Geological Engineering department. Inspired, Nicholas changed his major from astronomy to geological engineering. He found his vocation.

After two summer jobs with Hanna Mining and earning a B.S. in Geological Engineering in 1970, Nicholas signed on full-time exploring in Montana and Idaho for copper deposits. A transfer to Hanna’s Pilot Knob underground iron mine in Missouri allowed Nicholas to focus on his major area of interest--underground rock mechanics. In 1972 Nicholas returned to UA for a Master’s Degree in Rock Mechanics, studying under Dr. John Abel and Dr. Richard Call.

Under Call, Nicholas studied pit slope stability; under Abel, he studied underground rock mechanics receiving an M.S. degree in 1976 for his work at the Oracle Ridge underground mine. For inclusion in CANMET’s 1977 pit slope manual, Call subcontracted Nicholas to develop a program to model the distribution of potential step paths.

After receiving his M.S., Nicholas worked for the consulting firm Pincock, Allen, and Holt, with Call and worked on slope design and underground mining projects worldwide in North America, Chile, Sweden, Botswana, Liberia, and China.

In 1979, Nicholas and Call formed a business partnership as independent consultants and, in 1980, established Call & Nicholas, Inc. (CNI). Call and Nicholas grew the company and created a culture of collaboration and team effort. Through his work at CNI, Nicholas has been instrumental in many large underground and open pit mine projects, including the Grasberg open pit mine and block cave mines at P.T. Freeport Indonesia.  In 1982, Nicholas received the Robert Peele Memorial Award for his paper, Method Selection, A Numerical Approach.

With Nicholas’s guidance, CNI has evolved into a world renowned consulting firm and currently has over fifty employees at its consulting, slope monitoring instrumentation, and laboratory testing operation in Tucson, Arizona. Today, Nicholas consults for long-time clients and enjoys mentoring young engineers and geologists.

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