Thursday, 27 May 2010

Keynote speakers in place for Process Mineralogy '10

November’s Process Mineralogy ’10 is already developing into a major MEI conference. Sandwiched between two other MEI events at Cape Town’s Vineyard Hotel (Biohydromet ’10 and Zinc Processing ’10), the conference has attracted two very eminent keynote speakers of international repute.

On the first day of the 3-day conference, Robert Schouwstra, manager of mineralogical research at Anglo Research, South Africa, will review developments in mineralogical techniques.

Conventional mineralogy was mainly based on optical microscopic techniques. Years of experience in studying ore and gangue minerals using an optical microscope allowed for quick identification of minerals, opinions on abundances of certain minerals, liberation, required grind size and reasons for high mass pulls or tailings losses. More detailed investigations involving point counting techniques, XRD and chemical methods provided additional information to quantify certain aspects of the problem studied. Developments in automation of SEM-based techniques, computerised XRD processing and identification, imaging software, etc. has impacted on the tasks of mineralogists. Future equipment developments and the implementation of plant systems will probably minimise the need for experienced mineralogists for the more routine applications. Dr. Schouwstra will discuss how processing requirements have driven developments on current systems, the changing role of mineralogists, as well as knowledge and experience requirements to drive applied or process mineralogy forward.

The second day of the conference will commence with a keynote from Dr. Norman Lotter, of Xstrata Process Support, Canada, and CIM Distinguished Lecturer, who will also discuss modern mineralogy and will show how the modern hybrid of process mineralogy has produced new levels of capability in flowsheeting for concentrator design and retrofit for optimal performance. These are: sampling and statistics, geology, mineralogy, and mineral processing.

As new mine projects that either replace worked-out tonnages of older mines for current operations, or new mine projects that consider first-time start-up, the question of viability is challenged evermore by lower-grade, and more complex, orebodies to be treated. Modern hybrid process mineralogy is capable of producing flowsheeting solutions that add to paymetal recovery and concentrate quality, bringing significant value to these projects and – in some cases – turning unviable projects into viable.

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