Monday, 21 July 2014

1st Call for Abstracts- Precious Metals '15 and Nickel Processing '15

Abstracts are now invited for two of MEI's small specialised conferences, which will run back to back in May next year. As with all MEI Conferences, papers accepted for presentation will be published in a Proceedings flash drive, available at the conference, and then authors will be invited to submit edited papers to Elsevier Science after the event for peer-review and publication in a special issue of Minerals Engineering. Both conferences are certified for Continuous Professional Development.
May is a great time to be in Cornwall, so plan ahead and aim to spend some time exploring this beautiful area of the world.
Falmouth Bay

Precious Metals '15 will deal with all aspects of the processing of gold and PGM ores, such as flotation, bio and hydrometallurgy and the associated environmental issues. Prof. Jacques Eksteen of Curtin University, Australia, will present the keynote lecture "Innovations in the processing of difficult and low grade gold ores".
The aim of Nickel Processing '15 is to bring together researchers and plant operators, to discuss all aspects of the physical and chemical processing of nickel ores, copper-nickel ores and laterites, and nickel concentrates, including:
• Froth Flotation and other beneficiation methods
• Bio and Hydrometallurgy
• Pyrometallurgy
• Environmental aspects of nickel processing and smelting
The keynote lecture "The future of nickel production - the outlook for nickel sulphide and laterite resource development" will be given by Dr. Andrew Mitchell, Principal Nickel Analyst with Wood Mackenzie, UK.

If you would like to present a paper at either of these meetings, please submit your short abstract by the end of November of this year. If your company is interested in exposure via sponsorship, details for Precious Metals '15 can be found here, and here for Nickel Processing '15.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Nchanga Copper Mine 1970

While sorting out some old 8mm home movies, I came across a short clip of the Nchanga mine and concentrator, taken in 1970.

Although nowhere need HD quality, it may be of interest to anyone who worked on the mine during that era, and I have now transferred this to YouTube. It shows ore being transported from the huge Nchanga open pit (now no longer in operation) to the massive primary gyratory crusher (still in operation), and then rod and ball mill grinding at the East Mill.  At the West Mill, ore is seen arriving from underground, and the old flotation banks, dewatering and concentrate shipment can also be seen.

Things have moved on a lot in the intervening decades, as I saw during my return to Nchanga two years ago.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Gerald G. Hatch, 1922-2014

Sad to read on MEI Online of the death of one of Canada's great metallurgists, Gerald Hatch, founder of the engineering firm Hatch Limited, which has grown from six people in 1958 to over 11,000 employees in 65 offices worldwide.

If you knew Gerald, we invite you to add comments to this post to record your appreciations and memories.

Book Review: Hydrometallurgy: Fundamentals and Applications

I thank Sadegh Safarzadeh, Associate Editor of Hydrometallurgy, and Assistant Professor at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, USA for supplying a review of this new text book.

Authored by Professor Michael L. Free, Hydrometallurgy: Fundamentals and Applications provides an in-depth understanding of the fundamentals of hydrometallurgical science and engineering. The book consists of 12 chapters including Introduction, Chemical Fundamentals of Hydrometallurgy, Speciation and Phase Diagrams, Rate Processes, Metal Extraction, Separation of Dissolved Metals, Metal Recovery Processes, Metal Utilization Environmental Issues, Process Design Principles, General Engineering Economics, General Engineering Statistics, and several useful appendices, including laboratory calculations.

The book has been prepared in 432 pages and published in 2013 by John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey. This textbook is arguably the first of its kind, in the sense that it compiles the fundamentals, applications, reference information and analytical tools on the topic of Hydrometallurgy.

The lack of an inclusive textbook for hydrometallurgy has been felt over the past years. While many of the books published so far are invaluable sources for hydrometallurgy, there was no single book that covered all of the aspects in hydrometallurgy from science to engineering. At the same time, these books appeared to be excellent on some topics, but weak on the other topics. In his book, Professor Free has given equal importance to each of the fundamental topics in hydrometallurgy. Among the important topics that are often weakly written in many related books, if not neglected, are the biochemical and electrochemical reaction kinetics, flowsheet development, and environmental hydrometallurgy. These topics are all covered in this textbook. At the end of each chapter, there is a set of problems that are directly related to the contents of the preceding chapter(s). This book is suitable for both undergraduate and graduate students in the field of mineral processing and extractive metallurgy. Also, it is recommended for mineral processing engineers who work in industry.

Professor Michael Free is with the department of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Utah. He is a well-known hydrometallurgist, with significant contributions to electrometallurgy, engineering pedogogy, and web-based teaching.

We invite further comments on this volume.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Selfrag's KP van der Wielen calls in

Dr. Klaas van der Wielen, of Selfrag, Switzerland, called in at MEI this morning. He is in Cornwall for his stag celebrations, prior to his wedding next month in The Netherlands.

With Klaas at MEI
We last saw him in Cape Town in April, where he presented an interesting paper at Comminution '14 on electro- fragmentation of particles, a technology which has consistently been demonstrated at batch scale but which has yet to be proven on a commercial basis for large scale continuous processing. There are exciting times ahead, however. Work is progressing on the pilot plant to prove the viability of the technology and there are many potential projects in the pipeline, including copper-gold ores, iron ores, as well as comminution of incinerator slags and silicon ingots.

A full description of the technology can be found on MEI Online and we look forward to updates at Comminution '16.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

In conversation with T.C. Rao- "the father of Indian mineral processing"

T.C. Rao
With T.C. Rao in New Delhi, 2012
It was great to catch up with my old friend Prof. T.C. Rao at the IMPC in New Delhi in 2012. He presented a keynote lecture, and in introducing him, the chairman described him as "the father of Indian mineral processing", which few people will dispute. He has published around 225 research papers in International and National journals and his pioneering works on modelling of unit operations in coal and mineral processing are still being extensively used by academic institutions and industries all over the world for process simulation and optimisation. He is the recipient of many awards/citations from various professional bodies and is a Fellow of many prestigious societies. In its early days he was Regional Editor of Minerals Engineering and he is, or has been, a member of the editorial boards of the International Journal of Mineral Processing, the International Journal of Coal Preparation, the Transactions of the Mining, Geological & Metallurgical Institute of India and of the Indian Institute of Metals. He is a Council Member of the Indian Institute of Metals and the Mining, Geological and Metallurgical Institute of India. He was a past President and presently a Patron Member of the Indian Institute of Mineral Engineering and was honoured as a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineers in Coal and Mineral Processing Specialization.

The IMPC was our first meeting in 21 years, since his attendance at Reagents '91 in Cornwall. It was good, therefore, to phone him at his home in Hyderabad and talk to him about his early formative years in Australia, and his views on modern mineral processing.

TC in Cornwall, 1991, with Dr. M. Prasad, Prof. Shouci Lu and Prof. T. Wakamatsu

Tadimety Chakrapani (TC) Rao was born in September, 1940, and he received a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Geology from Andhra University, Waltair, India in 1959, and an M.Sc. in Ore Dressing from the same university in 1960.

He then felt that Australia was the place to be to progress his career, and was offered a research post at the University of Queensland (UQ), supervised by the late Prof. F.T.M. White, Head of Mining at UQ, who also recruited Alban Lynch to the department to start up an experimental mine and mineral processing at the University. Later with a donation from Mount Isa Mines, this became the Julius Krutschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC), with Alban as its first Director. When Prof. White left UQ for Canada, TC was supervised by Prof. Lynch; TC helped with the teaching of mineral processing in the fledgling department, together with the late Rex Bull, who was senior lecturer at that time. In those early days he was inspired by Antoine Gaudin's 1939 Textbook of Mineral Dressing, and A.F. Taggart's 1945 Handbook of Mineral Dressing, as they "explained the theory of mineral processing in a simple way".

He obtained his Ph.D degree, under the guidance of Prof. Alban Lynch in 1965, working on the characteristics of hydrocyclones. He obviously regards Alban Lynch with great affection and respect, describing him as "an exceptional man, who treated me like a family member, and helped me develop my latent talents". They published their work on hydrocyclones in a number of seminal papers, and the models are still valid today, being used in many hydrocyclone manufacturers' performance curves. He attributes their ongoing validity to their simplicity, involving parameters which can be easily measured, such as vortex finder diameter, spigot diameter, and can therefore be confidently accepted by operators. He feels that this is the failing of many modern modelling techniques, which, due to their complexity, often inhibit their use industrially. He made a point that particles in a closed grinding circuit are moving in a fluid medium, but many of the models are based on screening size analysis, so there is a need for methods of characterise particles according to hydraulic size, putting particles into 'behavioural' ranges, as is done with 'sub-sieve' particles in devices such as the Warman Cyclosizer.

TC stayed in Australia for eight years, working for a time at Broken Hill mine, before finally returning to India to take up a position as a Faculty member of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur for a further eight years, before accepting the position of Professor and Head of Mineral Engineering at the Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad in 1977. He established a new four-year graduate programme (B.Tech) in Mineral Engineering, the only of its kind in India and was also Dean of Academic & Research at ISM. He invited many visiting lecturers from overseas to interact with staff and students and teach courses. I was one of them and it was in Dhanbad in 1989 where I first met TC.

Dhanbad 1989, with TC (centre) and P.R. Sinha
At the IMPC in New Delhi it was reported that only 2% of the world's minerals engineering graduates came from India, compared with 50% from China. TC feels that youngsters are not coming into minerals engineering "because we are not exciting them" and that academics, who seem to spend most of their time striving to publish papers, should have some industrial experience, to pass on the importance of "seeing the whole picture" to their students. Minerals engineers are” custodians of a finite natural resource” and each corporate office should put a certain amount of money aside as part of their budget for teachers to spend 2-3 months with their students on a mine site". I agreed, mentioning that in the 1970s this did happen, and in 1978 I spent 6 weeks in South Africa supervising student vacation projects, and learned a lot in doing so which I could pass on to future students (see also the posting of 30 August 2010).

In 1989, Prof. Rao took over as Director of the Regional Research Laboratory, Bhopal (now Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute AMPRI), the only CSIR laboratory in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Though the laboratory was on the verge of closure at that stage, it emerged as one of the best performing CSIR laboratories under his Leadership and achieved many laurels for its outstanding contributions.

He formally retired in 2000, but is still actively involved with many industries and R&D Organisations as an advisor. It was really good to talk to him, and I hope to catch up with him again in the not too distant future- maybe at this year's IMPC in Chile?