Monday, 4 April 2016
With Comminution '16 only a week away I have been looking back on past conferences in the series, which began with Comminution '88 in Redruth, progressed to Australia, then Falmouth and since 2010 in Cape Town.
The last Australian conference, Comminution '06 in Perth was attended by only 48 delegates, but comminution then was in a bit of a rut, grinding being dominated by rod, ball and SAG mills, with little interest in stirred mills and High Pressure Grinding Rolls (HPGR). It was almost as if these were curiosities, rather than serious contenders to the well established tumbling mills.
From 2008 onwards delegate numbers rose rapidly to a maximum of 250 in 2012 when the industry was booming as a result of high commodity prices. But the real reason for the rise in comminution interest has been innovation in technology, and in the past decade, the minerals industry has finally woken up to the fact that comminution is expensive, particularly in terms of energy consumption.
HPGR and stirred mills are now increasingly used, the former crushing finer and the latter grinding coarser than in the past, so that we must ask whether tumbling mills will soon be things of historical interest. At Comminution '16 keynote speaker Tim Napier-Munn said in his summing up that "we really have to get rid of tumbling mills", and Joe Pease, in his keynote next week will ask whether the SAG mill could be regulated to a curiosity during the next few decades.
So there are interesting times ahead in comminution and I look forward with intense interest to next week and to reporting on events both on the blog and on Twitter (#Comminution16).