Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Balkan Mineral Processing Congresses

I have just received this history of the Balkan Mineral Processing Congresses from Fathi Habashi.

The organization of Balkan mineral processing engineers took place in Athens on September 30, 1971 when representatives from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia met and signed a protocol forming the International Association of Engineers of South-East European Countries. This seems to have been at the initiative of Professor Kiriak Kovachev, Rector of the University of Mining and Geology in Sofia and President of the Bulgarian Association of Mining, Geological, and Metallurgical Engineers. The first task of the Association was to organize conferences where engineers and academics from the Balkan countries could meet to present and discuss recent work on mineral processing.

The First Balkan conference was convened in Varna and at the last session, the Balkan Scientific Committee for Mineral Processing Conferences was founded with Prof. Kovachev as President, Prof. George Tsailas [Greece], engineer Stanka Patraš [Romania], Prof. Zeki Dogan [Turkey], and Prof. Dušan Salatic [Yugoslavia] as members with the task to convene future conferences at three years intervals. In 2000 the name changed from Balkan Mineral Processing Conference to Balkan Mineral Processing Congress.

From the beginning there was a language problem. At the first and second conferences Bulgarian papers were published in Bulgarian and Russian, Romanian papers in Romanian and French, Yugoslavian papers in English and French, and Turkish papers in English. At the third conference this problem was partially solved by having simultaneous translation of papers presented in the four official languages of the conference: English, French, Russian, and Serbian. It was only at the sixth conference that it was agreed to have English as the only official language.

The third conference was originally scheduled on April 22-26, 1980 but had to be postponed to June because of the death of President Tito. This resulted in the cancellation of participation of many authors. At the fifth conference the number of participants declined greatly evidently because of the tense political situation in Eastern Europe which resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dismembering of Yugoslavia. Cyprus became divided between the Turks and the Greeks. Invitations to Croatian and Slovenian engineers were turned down considering themselves not Balkan although they were originally members of the former Yugoslavia.

As a result, the sixth conference took place six years after the fifth. Thanks to the initiative of Professor Güven Onal at the Istanbul Technical University who called for a meeting in Istanbul in January 1995 to discuss the issues. Decisions taken at the meeting included the use of English as an official language and extending invitations to mineral processing communities outside the Balkan countries. The year 1995 was therefore a turning point in the history of the Association. It was at the seventh conference that participants from Australia, Czech Republic, China, Germany, and Italy took part for the first time.

Due to the widespread destruction of the infrastructure in Yugoslavia during the 78 days NATO bombardment the eighth conference planned to be held in Heceg Novi on the Adriatic was to be moved to Belgrade. Also, because of the international sanctions implemented towards air traffic carried in and out of Yugoslavia as well as the negative attitudes from some countries towards Yugoslavia a large number of foreign authors were unable to attend. As a result only 60 papers were presented but 144 were printed in the proceedings volume.

At the eighth conference, at the initiative of Professor Güven Onal the Balkan Academy of Sciences on Mineral Technologies was created.

The help of Professor Güven Onal, Technical University of Istanbul for supplying certain information is gratefully acknowledged.

References
D. Salatic, “Review of the BMPC’s from 1973 to 2007. Development, State, and Perspective”, Revista Minelor [Romania] 4-5, 2-7 (2009)
S. Krausz and V. Ciocan, “The XIII Balkan Mineral Processing Congress for the World’s Sustainable and Ecological Development”, Revista Minelor [Romania] 8-9, 2-7 (2009)

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