Thursday, 18 April 2019

Festo is the 20th sponsor of Flotation '19

Festo is a multi-national company, with over 22,000 employees worldwide, which develops tailored automation solutions for the process industry, in all project phases from engineering to operation and maintenance. The company exhibited at Flotation '17 for the first time, and now we are pleased to welcome them to Flotation '19, not only as an exhibitor once more, but also as a full time sponsor.
Russel Schwulst of Festo, South Africa, discussing reliable level control, which is critical
in flotation cells to maximize recovery, with Andrew Lewis and Martin Rudolph at Flotation '17
We are also pleased to welcome a new media partner for the conference, Minerals, an international peer-reviewed open access journal of natural mineral systems, mineral resources, mining, and mineral processing.

Updates on the conference are at #Flotation19.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Whetting the appetites for Cornwall in June

Cornwall is a very special place, not only for its rich nautical and mining history, but also for its spectacular scenery, the coastal path being a paradise for walkers. It is one of the most beautiful counties in England, although many locals say that once you leave Devon and cross the River Tamar you leave England behind!
Regular blog readers might be aware of my love for this special place, and those of you who will be attending Computational Modelling '19 and/or Physical Separation '19 in June will have a unique experience, as there is much happening during the conference week.
For the first time we will be using a new venue, Falmouth's National Maritime Museum, located by the magnificent natural harbour, and in the centre of what I call 'old Falmouth' where the town's world class restaurants and pubs are located.
The Falmouth National Maritime Museum
Photo: Peter Edwards
Only a 5 minute walk from the Museum is the famous 17th century Chain Locker pub, where delegates will be able to sample Cornwall's finest ales after the first day at each conference. This will be after a guided walk along the coast path and around the moat of the 16th century Pendennis Castle, which guarded the River Fal from French and Spanish invasion in Tudor times, long before Falmouth itself became a town.
The Pendennis Castle moat
The Chain Locker pub
The narrow alley leading to the Chain Locker, typical of many such alleyways leading to the quays, was a dangerous place to be in the 18th and early 19th centuries, as a night on the town could lead to an awakening the next morning with a very sore head, having been 'pressed' into service on a Royal Navy ship by one of the 'press gangs' which lurked in these areas. Cornwall in those times was the world's major producer of copper and tin, and some of the burly men 'pressed' into service would have been miners from the local Gwennap Parish, only 8 miles from Falmouth, and known as the 'richest square mile on earth' due to its high grade copper deposits. Physical Separation '19 delegates will pass through this area on the Friday afternoon, en route to the well-preserved engine houses of Wheal Peevor near Redruth.
Mining archaeology in the Gwennap Parish
On returning in the early evening, Falmouth will be coming alive with the annual Sea Shanty Festival, where 66 groups from all over the UK, as well as from Brittany, Holland, Spain, Canada and Ireland will perform their sea songs and shanties in over 20 different venues throughout the town. A good reason to book your accommodation well in advance of the conference week!
The most well known of the sea shanty groups is Fisherman's Friends, the subject of an eponymous movie, just released, which I would highly recommend that you see, as it will give you a real feel for the atmosphere of Cornwall. The group perform every Friday in the tiny village of Port Isaac, 40 miles from Falmouth by road, but extremely busy in summer. The movie was filmed on location in the village, and lovers of Doc Martin will also recognise it as the fictitious village of Portwenn in the BBC TV series. This section of Cornwall's rugged north coast is a haven for serious hikers, and if you really want a challenge, try the 9 mile walk between Port Isaac and Tintagel, perhaps the most gruelling section of the Cornish coastal path.
Port Isaac
There are many good reasons to stay on in Falmouth, even if you did not come by car, and on the weekend after the conferences Cornish Lithium Ltd has invited delegates to their Walking with Poldark tours. Coaches will depart from Falmouth, and on Saturday June 15th, there will be a wonderful 6 mile walk on Cornwall’s rugged north coast, in the area near Land's End where most of the mining scenes for the BBC series Poldark were filmed.
I am sure that you will leave Cornwall in June with the feeling that you have experienced something very special- the conference programmes are not too bad either!
Twitter @barrywills

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Preparing for Turkey's IMCET 2019

Barbara and I arrived in Turkey in the early hours of this morning. We are near the old city of Antalya, guests of IMCET 2019, the 50th Anniversary of the International Mining Congress and Exhibition, which starts on Tuesday, and ends mid-day Friday.

The IMCET conference venue: the Grand Luxury Belek Hotel
We have been to Turkey many times, this our second visit to Antalya, and my first ever conference was in Bursa in 1984.
I am looking forward to an interesting week, with no idea what the conference will be like, or who will be there. But I expect a few surprises, hopefully catching up with friends from the past and present.
I will submit daily updates on the week's activities on Twitter.
Twitter @barrywills

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Big changes at the Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution

MEI has a very close involvement with the Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution (CEEC), which is an Industry Advocate for Physical Separation '19, Comminution '20 and Sustainable Minerals '20, and MEI is a media partner for CEEC.
It was great to hear (MEI Online) that our good friend Mike Battersby has been appointed Chair of the CEEC Board of Directors. Mike and his company Maelgwyn Mineral Services have for many years sponsored MEI's flotation conferences, and he has been a regular visitor to Falmouth, his company being based in Cardiff, Wales, which is closer to Falmouth than is London.
Physical Separation '17 in Falmouth. Mike (3rd left) with fellow CEEC Directors Nick Wilshaw (1st left) and
Tim Napier-Munn (2nd right). CEEC sponsors Goldcorp and Gekko were represented by
Simon Hille (2nd left) and Sandy Gray (right) respectively
The CEEC is well known for its comminution energy curves, developed by 2017 MEI Young Person's Award winner Dr. Grant Ballantyne and Prof. Malcolm Powell at Australia's JKMRC. Grant recently moved from academia to Ausenco, and the new team will be led by JKMRC Senior Research Fellow Dr. Cathy Evans (MEI Online). Cathy is one of the three editors of the JKMRC Monograph Process Mineralogy, which was showcased at Process Mineralogy '17 in Cape Town.
Cathy (right) with fellow book editors Elaine Wightman and Megan Becker
Cathy is photographed below with CEEC CEO Alison Keogh and JK's Sustainable Minerals Institute Director Neville Plint.
Twitter @barrywills

Monday, 8 April 2019

Whatever happened to all the mineral processing polymaths?

It was interesting to hear that a new University in UK is to open next year offering only one degree. The London Interdisciplinary School aims to teach students to solve complex problems which cut across disciplinary boundaries, and to develop a polymathic way of thinking.
This is a bold step which acknowledges that these days many academics tend to be highly specialised and unable to take a truly holistic view of their chosen subject. This has become very apparent in mineral processing academia over the last few decades, where the pressure is on academics to pursue research and publications, often at the expense of teaching.
At the beginning of last century there was no recognised mineral processing profession. Ores were of high grade and any concentration necessary was undertaken by the miners using simple sorting and gravity techniques. The increasing demand for metals led to the development of flotation, and mineral processing became an acknowledged discipline, but teaching was the primary focus of the main universities, and the teachers were essentially well-rounded mineral processors, such as the legendary Arthur Taggart, the first person to be offered a Chair in Mineral Dressing, in 1919 at the Columbia School of Mines in New York (posting of 6th March 2012). His Handbook of Mineral Dressing is a massive volume, still used today, and I doubt if any mineral processor today would be able to match this in its scope. The recently published SME Mineral Processing Handbook is the modern equivalent of "Taggart" but this is the result of the efforts of a large team of specialists from academia and industry.
When I began my 22 year stint at Camborne School of Mines (CSM) in 1974, the majority of the academic staff had been recruited from industry, many like me from the Zambian Copperbelt. Very few had PhDs and there was very little research being undertaken. CSM's reputation had been built on its education of mining engineers by its fine teaching staff. The Royal School of Mines in London did have a world class research reputation, but research was not at the expense of its equally strong commitment to teaching.
Things began to change in the late 1980s, and when CSM was merged into the University of Exeter in the early 90s the pressure on academics to research and publish began to build, so I decided in 1996 to opt out and try my luck doing my own thing.
Now it is evident that teaching in many universities is secondary to research, and the pressure to publish for career advancement is enormous. Recruitment of staff from industry is now not the norm, and an increasing number of academics in minerals departments have never seen a mine, let alone worked on one. A typical career path is now postgraduate research leading to a PhD, followed by a junior lectureship, researching and teaching in the same narrow post-graduate field. And my experience editing Minerals Engineering has highlighted that these fields of expertise are becoming ever narrower, flotation for instance now having reviewers who can only assess papers in specialist areas such as flotation physics, sulphide flotation, oxide flotation etc. Reviewers who can assess work on 'general' mineral processing I usually choose from industry.
So are today's mineral processing students getting the broad-based education which they deserve and which is necessary in the modern mining industry?
As John Starkey pointed out in his comment on the posting of 17th December, there isn't a mineral processing industry. There is a mining industry, and mineral processing is part of it. Also, most mine sites have a mill on the site and very few mills exist that are not on a mine site. The expert mineral processor therefore cannot do his or her job well if he or she does not understand mining, because the concentrator’s feed always comes from a mine. Very few mine General Managers are mineral processors, they are mining engineers, who have a broad knowledge of not only mining, but geology, surveying, mineral economics, mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as mineral processing.
I was recruited to Camborne in 1974 to teach mineral processing on the mining degree, but three years later we also started a mineral processing degree. Although it turned out some excellent graduates, it was always difficult to recruit sufficient students to make it viable, and in retrospect I feel that the best route for producing good mineral processors is probably a broad-based degree in mining, followed by an MSc in mineral processing.
I would appreciate your views on this?
Twitter @barrywills

Thursday, 4 April 2019

We welcome Outotec to Comminution '20

It is good to have Outotec as a sponsor once more of our comminution series of conferences. They are sponsoring for the 4th time since Comminution '14, and now become the 16th company sponsoring next year's Comminution '20 in Cape Town.
Current Comminution '20 sponsors
We are proud to be associated with Outotec, which, at the beginning of 2019, was ranked 12th in the Global 100 Index of the most sustainable companies in the world, being included in the Index for the seventh consecutive year. The giant international company is also a sponsor for Physical Separation '19 in Falmouth, and Flotation '19 in Cape Town.
Updates on these events are at #PhysicalSeparation19, #Flotation19 and #Comminution20.
Twitter @barrywills