Thursday, 14 November 2019

Flotation '19: Applications Symposium Day 1

Yesterday we said goodbye to the 16 delegates registered only for the fundamentals symposium, and this morning MEI's Jon Wills welcomed the 29 new delegates for the applications symposium.
More than a century after its adoption and adaptation as a major mineral separation technology within the mining industry, significant new developments in flotation continue to appear. A number of important contributions have come from Canadians and a selection of these were highlighted by Jan Nesset, of NesseTech Consulting Services Inc, Canada, in his keynote lecture this morning.
Jan's keynote was followed by 19 presentations, which will be covered in more detail in the conference final report in a few weeks time.
The sun was shining today, and the two representatives from Bindura Nickel's Trojan mine in Zimbabwe, Chawo Nkhoma and Itayi Marufu, were enjoying the view of Table Mountain from the conference centre. I was interested to hear that Chawo was a student at the University of Zimbabwe in 1988 when I presented a guest lecture! 
Chawo and Itayi
Delegates also made use of the improving weather during the long lunch break and, as in the last two days, there was a lot of interest in the poster displays, the fundamentals posters having been replaced by applications. 
The exhibition was also a hive of activity during the coffee and lunch breaks, and also at the evening sundowner where wine was substituted for coffee and tea around the exhibits. 
I looked in on the Process IQ booth, where Brian Whitehead and Adrian Paine were describing their products to Nora Schreithofer and Laurianne Le of Aalto University. Process IQ is an Australian Mining Equipment and Technology Services company focused on Advanced Process Solutions. Several of Process IQ’s technologies include the MillSlicer (Advanced Mill Measurement Instrumentation), MillStar & FloatStar Advanced Control Systems, and MillROC – Milling Remote Optimisation Consulting.
Brian, Adrian, Nora and Laurianne
It was good to welcome a number of visitors today. Diana Drinkwater is over from Australia as a representative of the International Mineral Processing Council, which is meeting in Cape Town this week.
Diana with Virginia Lawson and Stephen Johnson of Glencore
We had two sundowner visitors from nearby UCT. Megan Becker is MEI Consultant to Process Mineralogy '20, which will be held at the Vineyard next October, immediately prior to the Cape Town IMPC.
Aubrey Mainza is much involved with the IMPC organisation, and is consultant to Comminution '20 in April at the Vineyard.
Aubrey (3rd right) at the sundowner
And visiting the Outotec booth were the company's biohydrometallurgy specialists, Jan van Niekerk and Waldemar Olivier, photographed in the Outotec booth with Angie Voges. Jan was a keynote speaker at Biohydromet '16 in Falmouth, and both he and Waldemar hope to be at Biomining '20, also in Falmouth.
Outotec's Waldemar, Angie an Jan

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Day 2 at Flotation '19

Another long day with 20 presentations in the two technical sessions, but as always, plenty of time to mingle with the exhibitors, and view the posters. 
The first coffee break started well for us when conference sponsor Metso agreed to sponsor our next conference in Cape Town, Comminution '20.
Pauline Choshane and Jon seal agreement on Metso's sponsorship of Comminution '20
Turkish company USK Kimya A.Sis one of the leading developers and manufacturers of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and polyanionic cellulose (PAC), specialising in development and production of different types of CMC and PAC. The company is represented at the conference by Belma Sonmez, who is pictured (centre) below talking to Romke Kuyvenhoven and Kari Heiskanen.
It's great to have six representatives from Katanga Mining Limited, which operates a large-scale copper-cobalt mine complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through two joint ventures, Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) and DRC Copper and Cobalt Project (DCP). The KCC joint venture produced its first copper cathode in December 2007. I was pleased to hear that one of the delegates, Andrew Molloy, has degree in mining geology and an MSc in mineral processing from Camborne School of Mines.
Also good to see Pavel Milenky and Yaarit Boker, from ICl Rotem Amfert, our first ever delegates from Israel at a flotation conference. ICL is a world leader in specialty fertilizers, bromine and flame retardants. It produces approximately a third of the world’s bromine, and is the world’s sixth largest potash producer, as well as one of its leading providers of pure phosphoric acid.
Yaarit and Pavel
Back in the exhibition I caught up with the Maelgwyn Mineral Services (MMS) team, who were talking to Martyn Hay of Eurus Mineral Consultants. MMS is a regular sponsor of MEI's flotation and comminution conferences and will be back in Cape Town next April for Comminution '20.
Martyn Hay (2nd right) with the MMS team
With around 290 delegates, the overflow room is proving to be popular, as always. Here delegates can hear and see the presentations which are live-streamed from the main conference room, and can move freely in and out of the room, and catch up with work with an ear to the presentations.
Despite Table Mountain being obscured by cloud all day, I think most delegates appreciated a break away from the conference atmosphere with a fine evening dinner and entertainment at the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Flotation '19: Fundamentals Symposium Day 1

Flotation '19 began yesterday at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town. This 4-day conference, the 9th in the series, is, as always, split into two symposia, fundamentals and applications. With around 290 delegates from 33 countries, this is MEI's biggest conference in our history, and reflects the continuing importance of flotation, regarded as the world's most important technology, as we move into the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The daily updates will summarise the social events, and the activity around the exhibits, a much longer report on the technical programme being scheduled for week beginning December 1st. We are indebted, as always, to our corporate sponsors for their support.

Day 1: Monday November 11th
In opening the conference this morning, I noted that for many delegates this would be their first time in Cape Town, one of the world's most beautiful cities, and always near the top of the list of most popular tourist venues. It was not always so, however.
I first set foot in Cape Town 50 years and 2 months ago, en route to Zambia and the beginning of my 50 year career in the minerals industry. Cape Town was then a grim and austere place, visited by relatively few tourists. South Africa was at the height of its egregious apartheid era, with segregation of the races and all the benefits favouring the minority white population.
It would have been impossible to predict that 50 years on I would be addressing a sea of faces of all ethnic backgrounds in one of the city's best hotels. South Africa is an immensely complex country, still with major economic and social problems, but the changes have been huge. When we arrived in the Mother City all those years ago the South African rugby team was an international pariah, vilified as a symbol of apartheid with its all-white team composed mainly of Afrikaners. Who could have forecast that within the next 50 years the Springboks would be three times world champions and that just over a week ago, when they became champions for the third time, not only would half the team be black players, but they would be led by a black captain! It has been an incredible transformation.
Another major transformation has been the increasing number of women in our industry. During my four years in Zambia there were no female metallurgists, but female representation at Flotation '19 is around 15%.
One of the great ambassadors for women in mining was Prof. Dee Bradshaw, who sadly died last year. Dee was one of the few people who had attended every MEI flotation conference and she was for many years an MEI consultant to the series. She was also a great mentor to young researchers, many of whom are present at the conference. 
Dee will be sadly missed, and she would have loved to have seen the presentation of the MEI 2018 Young Person's Award to Dr. Zhiyong Gao, of Central South University, China. 
One of Zhiyong's nominators was Prof. John Ralston, the founding Director of Australia's Ian Wark Research Institute, and John got today's 17 technical presentations underway with a fine keynote lecture, discussing the legacy of Dr. Joe Kitchener of Imperial College, UK.
The long lunch and coffee breaks were centred around the 22 exhibits and the poster presentations, and during the first coffee break Zhiyong met Peter Amelunxen, of Hudbay Minerals, the recipient of the first MEI Award, in 2011.
Peter and Zhiyong
Outotec and Central South University (CSU) have signed a framework agreement about wide-ranging scientific cooperation, which includes the establishment of a joint research laboratory at CSU, localizing Outotec’s technologies in China, globalizing technologies from both entities, participating in metallurgical education and promoting innovative environmental process development. The six delegates from CSU are pictured below with some of the large team representing  Outotec.
I had a chance to catch up with Joe Felix, his son Travis and their colleague Alessandra Castillo, from CiDRA Minerals Processing, a regular exhibitor at MEI Conferences. This year they are exhibiting their SONARtrac® wrap-around the pipeline flow measurement systems, and the CYCLONEtrac™ Particle Size Tracking system (PST), which provides real-time, online particle information for each individual hydrocyclone for grind optimization and they have launched a new generation of PST probe with SMARTSensor technology which includes condition-based monitoring. Also on display is their newest solution, the CYCLONEtrac Oversize Monitoring system, specifically designed to alert grind operators when individual hydrocyclones are in a roping condition and unwanted coarse material is in the overflow stream. 
At the CiDRA booth
The first lunch break
I was pleased to hear that regular sponsor Promet 101 is the first to sign up for Flotation '21, which will be back at the Vineyard in November 2021.
Promet 101's Stuart Saich and MEI's Jon Wills shake hands on the sponsorship agreement
After a long, interesting day, it was great to relax with the biggest crowd we have ever seen in the hotel gardens, and to enjoy a few glasses of pinotage at the first of our evening sundowners. And it was particularly good to see MEI's Biomining '20 consultant, Prof. Sue Harrison, from nearby University of Cape Town.
Sue Harrison (centre) and friends

Monday, 11 November 2019

2018 MEI Award to Zhiyong Gao

It was a great pleasure this morning to present the 2018 MEI Young Person's Award to a very worthy winner, Dr. Zhiyong Gao, an Associate Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of Minerals Engineering, School of Minerals Processing and Bioengineering at Central South University (CSU) in Hunan, China. Earlier this year Zhiyong was promoted to Vice-Dean of the School of Mineral Processing and Bioengineering at CSU making him the youngest Vice-Dean, at 34 years of age, among the 30 schools at CSU.
The CSU is one of the top 20 universities in China and is very well represented at Flotation '19. Mineral processing at CSU is ranked #1 among about 40 universities that offer the discipline of mineral processing in the nation. It was recently ranked #1 in the world, according to the 2019 Shanghai Ranking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (Mining & Mineral Engineering). Zhiyong is the youngest PhD supervisor in the field of mineral processing in China.
The glowing citation for Zhiyong is very long, and is published in full online. Zhiyong was nominated by Prof. John Ralston, today's keynote speaker, Prof. Cyril O'Connor, Chairman of the IMPC, and his head of department at CSU, Prof. Yuehua Hu
Zhiyong with Cyril O'Connor, Barry Wills and John Ralston
Congratulations Zhiyong from all at MEI

Sunday, 10 November 2019

A fine Sunday in Cape Town

It's always good to be back, for the 21st time, at Cape Town's Vineyard Hotel, especially when the temperature is a full 20C warmer than the very wet and windy Cornwall that we left three days ago!
Sunday is always a day of preparation, this time for our largest conference ever, with over 280 delegates from 33 countries expected.
It'll be alright on the night!
Glencore is one our valued sponsors, and the Australian operation markets and produces the well known Jameson Cell, which is 30 years old this year and has over 350 installations around the world. Prof Jameson will be at the conference, and this afternoon Glencore Technology ran a special workshop, with around 40 attendees,  to show how the cell works, the latest improvements, case studies, and a live streaming from Mount Isa mine in Australia to see it in action. It also gave some of our delegates the chance to meet Virginia Lawson, Glencore's Technology Manager for Mineral Processing.
Graeme Jameson and Virginia Lawson cut the 30th Anniversary Jameson Cell cake
All this a prelude to the late afternoon welcoming wine reception and registration, giving early arrivals the chance to get a first glimpse of the exhibition and to sample some of the famous South African wines. A packed house tonight, but with around the same number yet to register, tomorrow should be an interesting day!
Launching the new range of MEI sun-hats

@barrywills #Flotation19