John Innes obtained the degree BSc (Eng) and became a mine surveyor. In 1918 he published a paper describing "The estimation of injurious dust in mine air by the Kotze konimeter" (developed by Sir Robert W.N. Kotze*) in the Journal of the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa (Vol. 18(9), pp. 199-206). When the Institute of Mine Surveyors of South Africa was established in 1923 he was elected as joint vice-president, a position he held until he was elected president of the institute for 1926. He was still a member of its council in 1929.