Wednesday, 3 September 2014

International Mineralogical Association (IMA '14) Day 3

Megan Becker reports on today's events at IMA '14:

This morning I elected to spend on a portion of my day listening to some more unusual talks, sitting in on the session on Inorganic fibres, biosphere and risk assessment, i.e. asbestos. I was encouraged to learn that this field of research is alive and well pulling in experts from numerous disciplines, particularly within Italy. The definition of an asbestiform mineral really depends not only on its high aspect ratio, but also its biopersistence within the lungs, and its surface reactivity. It is quite thought provoking to reflect on what has been done to society in the name of mining and manufacturing, hearing the stories of young girls and boys working within asbestos mines and products manufacturing in the last 100 years. One is also given some insights into just how difficult it is to tally and understand the statistics related to different types of deaths and uncoupling the effects of work environment (mining and processing, including handling of different asbestiform minerals), family situation (e.g. those who wash clothes of mine workers), and local environment (position to mining and engineering activities). However, it is also encouraging to see that researchers are thinking about ways of remediation of these sites, including developing technologies to dehydrate these minerals back into benign anhydrous silicate minerals with numerous possible downstream uses.

It was also great to meet up again with some old friends, and of course be reminded of just how quickly the tables can turn in the mining industry. Once a great team working together at Intellection on QEMSCAN in Brisbane, we now see Alan Butcher, Paul Gottlieb and Al Cropp working for competing companies in auto-SEM technology, all three being sponsors of Process Mineralogy '14, viz: QEMSCAN & MLA from FEI, TIMA from TESCAN, and the newly launched Mineralogic from Zeiss. It was also good to catch up with Al again, who was the person who most patiently first sat with me teaching me the QEMSCAN iDiscover software back in the days of Intellection.

Paul Gottlieb (TESCAN), Al Cropp (Zeiss) and Alan Butcher (FEI)
The FEI booth with Alan Butcher (FEI – middle) and local service agents IMP (Pierre Hofmeyer, left)
and Kosta Kousiakis (right)
Following the afternoon session, a 2nd poster session was held. I’m continually reminded how this isn’t always the most effective way to transfer information with very few delegates taking the time to walk through and engage with the poster presenters (many of whom are students).

The “casual” conference dinner was held this evening at the Barnyard Theatre in Johannsburg. We all piled into 3 large buses and worked out way to the theatre having a very informal dinner (pizzas) before being treated to live entertainment: Back to the 80’s! Needless to say the evening was a great success and ended up with many happily dancing – age, gender, nationality and culture set aside for an evening of fun. 


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