Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Flotation '19: Fundamentals Symposium Day 1

Flotation '19 began yesterday at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town. This 4-day conference, the 9th in the series, is, as always, split into two symposia, fundamentals and applications. With around 290 delegates from 33 countries, this is MEI's biggest conference in our history, and reflects the continuing importance of flotation, regarded as the world's most important technology, as we move into the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The daily updates will summarise the social events, and the activity around the exhibits, a much longer report on the technical programme being scheduled for week beginning December 1st. We are indebted, as always, to our corporate sponsors for their support.

Day 1: Monday November 11th
In opening the conference this morning, I noted that for many delegates this would be their first time in Cape Town, one of the world's most beautiful cities, and always near the top of the list of most popular tourist venues. It was not always so, however.
I first set foot in Cape Town 50 years and 2 months ago, en route to Zambia and the beginning of my 50 year career in the minerals industry. Cape Town was then a grim and austere place, visited by relatively few tourists. South Africa was at the height of its egregious apartheid era, with segregation of the races and all the benefits favouring the minority white population.
It would have been impossible to predict that 50 years on I would be addressing a sea of faces of all ethnic backgrounds in one of the city's best hotels. South Africa is an immensely complex country, still with major economic and social problems, but the changes have been huge. When we arrived in the Mother City all those years ago the South African rugby team was an international pariah, vilified as a symbol of apartheid with its all-white team composed mainly of Afrikaners. Who could have forecast that within the next 50 years the Springboks would be three times world champions and that just over a week ago, when they became champions for the third time, not only would half the team be black players, but they would be led by a black captain! It has been an incredible transformation.
Another major transformation has been the increasing number of women in our industry. During my four years in Zambia there were no female metallurgists, but female representation at Flotation '19 is around 15%.
One of the great ambassadors for women in mining was Prof. Dee Bradshaw, who sadly died last year. Dee was one of the few people who had attended every MEI flotation conference and she was for many years an MEI consultant to the series. She was also a great mentor to young researchers, many of whom are present at the conference. 
Dee will be sadly missed, and she would have loved to have seen the presentation of the MEI 2018 Young Person's Award to Dr. Zhiyong Gao, of Central South University, China. 
One of Zhiyong's nominators was Prof. John Ralston, the founding Director of Australia's Ian Wark Research Institute, and John got today's 17 technical presentations underway with a fine keynote lecture, discussing the legacy of Dr. Joe Kitchener of Imperial College, UK.
The long lunch and coffee breaks were centred around the 22 exhibits and the poster presentations, and during the first coffee break Zhiyong met Peter Amelunxen, of Hudbay Minerals, the recipient of the first MEI Award, in 2011.
Peter and Zhiyong
Outotec and Central South University (CSU) have signed a framework agreement about wide-ranging scientific cooperation, which includes the establishment of a joint research laboratory at CSU, localizing Outotec’s technologies in China, globalizing technologies from both entities, participating in metallurgical education and promoting innovative environmental process development. The six delegates from CSU are pictured below with some of the large team representing  Outotec.
I had a chance to catch up with Joe Felix, his son Travis and their colleague Alessandra Castillo, from CiDRA Minerals Processing, a regular exhibitor at MEI Conferences. This year they are exhibiting their SONARtrac® wrap-around the pipeline flow measurement systems, and the CYCLONEtrac™ Particle Size Tracking system (PST), which provides real-time, online particle information for each individual hydrocyclone for grind optimization and they have launched a new generation of PST probe with SMARTSensor technology which includes condition-based monitoring. Also on display is their newest solution, the CYCLONEtrac Oversize Monitoring system, specifically designed to alert grind operators when individual hydrocyclones are in a roping condition and unwanted coarse material is in the overflow stream. 
At the CiDRA booth
The first lunch break
I was pleased to hear that regular sponsor Promet 101 is the first to sign up for Flotation '21, which will be back at the Vineyard in November 2021.
Promet 101's Stuart Saich and MEI's Jon Wills shake hands on the sponsorship agreement
After a long, interesting day, it was great to relax with the biggest crowd we have ever seen in the hotel gardens, and to enjoy a few glasses of pinotage at the first of our evening sundowners. And it was particularly good to see MEI's Biomining '20 consultant, Prof. Sue Harrison, from nearby University of Cape Town.
Sue Harrison (centre) and friends

1 comment:

  1. Just a short note to say jolly well done on today’s opening speech. It captured the mood of the country incredibly well.

    Many thanks
    Cyril O'Connor, University of Cape Town


If you have difficulty posting a comment, please email the comment, and any photos that you might like to add, to bwills@min-eng.com and I will submit on your behalf