Monday, 3 August 2020

July: The Great Leap Forward

July 4th was the date that the hospitality business had been waiting for. Just as on the 4th of July Americans celebrate freedom from the British Government, on this day English citizens celebrated a similar release, as lockdown rules were further eased, apart from in the city of Leicester, where a resurgence in cases to 140 per 100,000 led to a tightening of the lockdown.
Cornwall in early July had one of the country's lowest number of Coronavirus cases, just 0.7 in 100,000, and Falmouth was soon buzzing with an influx of visitors,  restaurants and pubs doing a roaring trade,  and it was particularly good to see the old Chain Locker in action again.
Last week we had our first visitors of the year from outside Cornwall, Prof. Richard Williams, his wife Jane and son Tim, who were on a short break from their home in Edinburgh, where Richard is Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University. Richard was the subject of one of my MEI Interviews (MEI Blog 17 August 2015), when he was then a Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Birmingham UK.
Social distancing has gone by the board in many cases, and while walking through the busy Falmouth main street, I said "don't mind me!" to a heavily tattooed guy who passed inches away from me, and who replied that he had come down here to get away from all that crap!
A busy Falmouth town
And on that subject, there have been many reports of masses of waste, including human waste, being left on Cornwall's beaches, and on Perranporth beach a 14 year old boy who asked a family to take their litter away was hit over the head with a whisky bottle, and needed 11 stitches to the wound. Unbelievable behaviour!
Swanpool beach, Falmouth, July 30th
At the end of the month infection rates in Cornwall had risen to 4 in 100,000, only just below that of 5 for England as a whole, and tightened restrictions were imposed in the north of England due to a resurgence in cases. Let's hope that the great leap forward was not a leap too soon. 
Cartonn: Peter Schrank, The Times 6th July

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Sad news of the death of popular mineral processor Dan Alexander

We had some extremely sad news this morning of the sudden passing on Wednesday of Dr. Dan Alexander, a very popular figure who will be well known to many in our profession. He was only 48 years old.
Dan was Head of Technology Development at Anglo American, UK. Prior to that he was with the JKTech in Australia for over 14 years, from 2000-2015, where he was initially Operations Manager, and latterly CEO for 5 years.
He was a good friend of all of us at MEI, and a regular at MEI Conferences, particularly flotation, where he attended all but one of the conferences in the series. 
Dan (2nd left) at Flotation '09, with other well known mineral processors who had attended all MEI's flotation series:
Graeme Jameson, Jim Finch, Antonio Peres, Stephen Neethling and Dee Bradshaw
Last year he was also in Falmouth, for Physical Separation '19, and in the photo below he is with his close friend Dr. Ben Adair, CEO and Managing Director of CRC Ore, Australia, and a former Director of the JKMRC.
Ben and Dan in Falmouth
Dan relaxing with John Willis, of SRK Consulting at Physical Separation '19
Ben writes "Dan often spoke fondly and thought very highly of MEI and the conferences you run. We loved being at the The Falmouth conference last year - it was a real highlight for both of us.
Dan was not only a very gifted mineral processor in his own right, but he also had an outstanding vision of the future directions needed for step change in energy, water, and productivity in the industry. 
He was the author and main advocate for Anglo American’s Concentrating the Mine innovation initiatives. No one agitated more for change and a more sustainable future for mining going forward. He was also, of course deeply committed to his wife Suzi and their young son James. A true family man in every sense of the word.
I lost one of my closest friends yesterday, but I also know his loss will be keenly felt by so many of our colleagues. He was also a true friend of MEI. Thank you for thinking of him and any tributes you give him will be deeply appreciated by all his friends".
We will deeply miss Dan, not only for stimulating discussion on mineral processing, but for his views on subjects outside our industry, particularly cricket, which he played at a high level in Australia. 
Our thoughts are very much with his family at this difficult time.

Pendeen Lighthouse to Levant Mine

The glorious stretch of coast path in Cornwall's Penwith Peninsula (or the Land's End Peninsula) is not only an area of outstanding natural beauty, but is also of great interest because of its important tin and copper mining history and legacy.
The small village of Pendeen has three excellent pubs, an indication of this once being a thriving mining community, serving the mines in the St. Just District. There is an excellent 4-mile circular walk from the village to the Pendeen Watch Lighthouse, and then along the coast path to the famous Levant Mine, which closed in 1930, eleven years after the tragic man-engine disaster (MEI Blog 20th October 2019).

Pendeen Lighthouse, also known as Pendeen Watch is an active aid to navigation, and was commissioned in 1900. This whole stretch of coastline, with its jagged rocks lying just below the surface of the water, has caused many a problem to passing vessels, one notorious area being that around Gurnard's Head, a headland a few miles further towards St Ives.
The walk along the coastal path from the lighthouse to Levant Mine is only 1.6 miles but allow around 45 minutes as there are a few ups and downs along the way, but nothing severe, the elevation gain being only around 280 ft.

Approaching the St. Just Mining District
Ruins of the Geevor and Levant mines
Looking back to distant Pendeen Lighthouse
The Levant Mine
From Levant, you can walk back to Pendeen along the road, but I would suggest that if time permits you continue along the coastal path for just under a mile to the iconic ruins of the Botallack Mine and the region of Cornwall's submarine mines (MEI Blog 20 October 2014). There is probably a no better historical mining walk anywhere in the world.

Monday, 27 July 2020

New Book: Physical Separation and Enrichment

This book is a printed edition of the Special Issue Physical Separation and Enrichment that was published in the open access journal Minerals. The book includes 12 papers from around the world on topics related to physical separation and enrichment in mineral processing and is edited by Saeed Farrokhpay, a very familiar face at MEI Conferences. Last year he presented work at Physical Separation '19 in Falmouth and Flotation '19 in Cape Town.
Saeed (centre) at Flotation '17 with his colleagues from the Université de Lorraine, France, Lev Filippov and Inna Filippova

Print copies of the book are available for order

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Colorado: the beautiful home of the SME

Coronavirus permitting, my next venture out of Cornwall will be next February for the Annual Meeting of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) in Denver. The "mile-high city" is the home of the SME, its headquarters being in the suburb of Littleton.
I first attended an SME Meeting in 1987, held in Denver, and over the years the SME Annual Meeting has become a regular fixture in my diary, and because of it I have had the opportunity of visiting many American cities, but none better than Denver, where the meeting is now held every other year.
Barbara accompanied me to Denver for the first time in 1991, and this was perhaps our most memorable visit, as it gave us the chance to explore beautiful Colorado, and particularly the old mining towns in the Rocky Mountains. It is a magical area and my only regret is that our many visits have been only in winter, as I am sure that summer in Colorado would be equally as stunning.
We arrived at Denver International Airport in February 1991 totally exhausted!  In the previous week we had been in Singapore for Minerals Engineering '91 (MEI Blog 20 February 2011). After a 14 hour flight to Heathrow, we transferred to Gatwick Airport for the 10 hour flight to Denver, a total of 15 time zones.
We were with Phil Newall, of CSM Associates, the organisers of Minerals Engineering '91, and in Denver we met up with Nigel Powell and Connor Spollen, of Camborne School of Mines. Nigel was a lecturer in mathematics and Connor a final year student. Connor's final year project, supervised by me and Nigel had led to a paper which Nigel would present at the SME Meeting.
At the Paramount Cafe, Denver, with Nigel, Connor and Phil

As this was the first time that Barbara, Phil, Nigel and Connor had visited USA, we had set aside a week after the meeting to explore the Rocky Mountains area close to Denver.

A visit to Golden gave us the chance to see the "other CSM", the Colorado School of Mines, and to spend a memorable evening with Errol and Jan Kelly. Errol was a visiting Professor from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and a co-author with David Spottiswood, of Colorado SoM, of the text-book Introduction to Mineral Processing, which had been published 9 years earlier.
Golden, and the Colorado School of Mines
In Golden with Errol Kelly (centre) and his wife Jan
From Golden we travelled to Colorado Springs to the Garden of the Gods, with its towering red sandstone rock formations against a background of snow-capped 4,302 m high Pikes Peak.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
In the background is Pikes Peak
Then on to Central City, a historic mining settlement founded in 1859 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, and which came to be known as the "richest square mile on earth" a soubriquet shared by the Gwennap copper mining district of Cornwall (MEI Blog 27 October 2018).
Central City
Stamp Mills- a reminder of the mining legacy
Crossing the Continental Divide we spent our last few days in the Summit County ski resort of Copper Mountain, debut skiing for Barbara, Nigel and Connor, and only my 2nd venture on skis.
With Connor, Nigel and Phil at Copper Mountain
1990s ski fashions on display at Copper Mountain
So impressed were we with the snow, lifts and people at Copper Mountain that in all our subsequent travels to Denver for the SME Meeting we have always found time to take the Colorado Express shuttle from the airport into the Rockies, and have based ourselves in the lovely old Victorian town of Breckenridge. The town was founded in the mid 19th century to serve the miners working rich placer gold deposits along the Blue River, hard rock mining soon following as the prospectors followed the gold source to its veins in the hills.
Breckenridge main street
One of the old alluvial gold dredges, now converted into a restaurant
The skiing at Breckenridge is superb and for those of you who might visit I published my favourite route in the posting of 27 February 2015.
Barbara skiing down to Breckenridge with the Continental Divide in the background
So for those of you who are thinking of attending the next SME Meeting, if you love the mountains, mining history and beautiful scenery I would strongly recommend you plan to stay a few days in Colorado. It is magnificent- I just wish that we could see it in summer!

Monday, 20 July 2020

Good news from Australia: 2020 CEEC medal recipients, and Glencore's Covid philanthropy

Two standout research and field work contributions have been awarded the highly respected CEEC Medal for 2020.
CEEC Director and Medal Evaluation Committee Chair Dr Zeljka Pokrajcic said this year’s nominations reflected industry trends to install renewables, consider embodied energy and emissions, and the continued embracing of technologies such as pre-concentration and coarse flotation.
The 2020 recipients are:
For Operations: Peter Lind and Kevin Murray of Biohydromet '21 sponsor Newmont and Alan Boylston and Isaias Arce of Comminution '21 sponsor Metso Outotec, (formerly Metso), for their paper titled “Reducing Energy and Water Consumption through Alternative Comminution Circuits”. This was presented at the 7th SAG Conference in Vancouver, Canada, in 2019.
For Technical Research: Dr Grant Ballantyne, for his paper titled “Quantifying the Additional Energy Consumed by Ancillary Equipment and Embodied in Grinding Media in Comminution Circuits”. This was also presented at the 7th SAG Conference in Vancouver.
Dr Ballantyne, previously a senior research fellow at the JKMRC and now with Ausenco, was the recipient of the 2017 MEI Young Person's Award. He is also an assistant editor for Minerals Engineering. He acknowledged the inspiration and collaboration of Chris Greet (Magotteaux), Evert Lessing (formerly Weir), Malcolm Powell (formerly The University of Queensland) and Greg Lane (Ausenco) for contributing expert input and data to the work.
Grant Ballantyne awarded with the MEI Young Person's Award at Comminution '18
In addition to the two CEEC Medals awarded in 2020, three publications received High Commendations.
Ben Adair, Luke Keeney, and Michael Scott from CRC ORE, and David King from Minera San Cristóbal operations, for their paper titled "Gangue rejection in practice - the implementation of Grade Engineering® at the Minera San Cristóbal Site". This was presented at Physical Separation '19, Falmouth, Cornwall.
Malcolm Powell, Ceren Bozbay, Sarma Kanchibotla, Benjamin Bonfils, Anand Musunuri, Vladimir Jokovic, Marko Hilden, Jace Young and Emrah Yalcin, for their article titled "Advanced Mine-to-Mill Used to Unlock SABC Capacity at the Barrick Cortez Mine". This was presented at the 7th SAG Conference in Vancouver.
Paul Shelley and Ignacio Molina (Molycop) and Dimitrios Patsikatheodorou (Westgold Resources), for their paper titled "SAG mill optimization insights by measuring inside the mill". This was presented at the Procemin-Geomet Conference in Santiago, Chile in 2019.
Full details of the awards are available on the CEEC website and nominations for the 2021 CEEC Medal are now open, the closing date for submissions being 30 October 2021.

And more good news from Australia: Comminution '21 sponsor Glencore has provided a $725,000 funding injection to the University of Queensland’s efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
UQ’s ‘Molecular Clamp’ project uses technology that ensures the vaccine induces an immune response that recognises and then neutralises the virus.
Glencore’s funding comes from the company’s Community Support Fund, set up earlier this year to assist communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Glencore contributed more than $6.4 billion to Queensland’s economy, providing employment for about 9,230 people across its coal, copper and zinc mining operations.