Monday, 14 November 2011

Flotation ’11 opens with record number of delegates

The conference facilities at Cape Town’s beautiful Vineyard Hotel were at full capacity this morning, as I welcomed the 246 delegates who will be attending the Fundamentals Symposium for the first two days of Flotation ’11.

The record turnout reflects the increasing importance of flotation in the minerals industry and to society as a whole. There is little doubt that the minerals industry is the world’s most important industry. It is the primary industry and without it no other industry could survive, and there is nothing truer than the old adage that whatever we touch is either mined or grown. In all recorded history, all great civilisations have had one thing in common, and that is a thriving minerals industry, and the industry thrives today mainly as a result of the insatiable demand for metals and minerals from China and India.

The most important area of the minerals industry is mineral processing and extractive metallurgy, which produces these metal and minerals, and continuously has to evolve to process ores of ever lower grade, and increasing complexity and refractoriness, and find ways of treating 'new' metals such as indium, germanium and neodymium, little heard of 20 years ago.

Arguably the most important unit operation in mineral processing is froth flotation; it is ubiquitous and it would be hard to imagine processing base and precious metals and industrial minerals without this technique. So, having argued my case that flotation may be the most important technological development since the discovery of smelting, I handed over to MEI Consultant Prof. Dee Bradshaw, of the JKMRC, Australia, who highlighted the importance of modelling, which features strongly over the next few days.  She highlighted what it is that we want from models, how we develop them and how they can mislead and intimidate us.

Following an excellent keynote presentation by McGill University’s Prof. Jim Finch, a long day of technical presentations beckoned.

I take this opportunity to thank the 17 sponsors who have supported this event.

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