An invitation to address you on the occasion of the one-hundredth anniversary of AIME represents an honor, a challenge and an opportunity: an honor that you judge me worthy; a challenge that I present to you a picture of extractive metallurgy in the years ahead that contains some ideas of value; and finally, an opportunity for me to express some deeply felt beliefs about our profession and our industry.
My topic concerns the technology of metal production in the future—the processes, new and old that will be used to extract metals. The nature of these processes will be shaped by many forces—some technical, some economic, some political or social. A forecast of future technology must recognize the role of each of these forces, and I have endeavored to do this in the analysis that follows. In brief, my outline consists of an analysis of the forces (perhaps better called "problems") that will influence the future of our industry, followed by consideration of likely lines of technological development to meet them.
Let me dwell for a moment on the nature of this industry and the profession that serves it. I have been engaged in the profession of extractive metallurgy—teaching, researching and consulting—for 30 years. I have always found the subject stimulating and rife with challenges of a scientific, engineering, economic and sociepolitical nature. It is a big subject—it encompasses most of the elements of periodic table; we measure the U. S. production of six metals in millions of tons per year; new plant costs range to $100 million and more. The supply of metals from our extractive plants plays an essential role in our modem industrial economy. We could do without DDT, or phosphate detergents or 300-page Sunday newspapers; we cannot do without a huge and increasing supply of metals.