Monday, 4 July 2022

Process Mineralogy '22 programme published

We are looking forward to being in beautiful Sitges, Spain, in 4 months time. Process Mineralogy '22 will be MEI's first face-to-face conference in 3 years, and will be the first in this series since Process Mineralogy '18. There is an excellent technical programme, which has just been published. As you will see from the provisional timetable we have also left plenty of time for socialising and to mingle with the exhibitors during the long coffee and lunch breaks.

Sitges (TripAdvisor)

As ores become lower grade and more complex, process mineralogy is of great importance to all mineral processors, and if you have work that you feel may be of interest, then it is not too late to submit an abstract.

This is also an opportune time to introduce our three latest sponsors, Tescan, Petrolab and Capstone Copper, who join our regular sponsors Zeiss, Bruker and Promet101 and media partner International Mining.

We look forward to seeing you in Sitges, which is a mere 38.6 km from Barcelona.

Source: Google


Friday, 1 July 2022

June update: the Platinum Jubilee provides a diversion to the country's woes

The UK had a 4-day bank holiday at the beginning of June for Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, marking her 70th year as monarch, the first British monarch to have such a jubilee. 

Source: Private Eye
Falmouth town street party

On Thursday 2nd June over 1,500 beacons were lit across the UK, building on a long tradition of lighting beacons to mark significant royal celebrations. Most of the beacon events in Cornwall were arranged by parish and town councils, and we attended the lighting of the beacon in Mabe, Amanda's home village, where she was MC for the event. Looking out from the Mabe beacon we could see the next one, at Pendennis headland, Falmouth.

The Cornish beacons have special significance as in 1588 the first beacon was lit at Land's End on the western tip of Cornwall to carry the warning of the approaching Spanish Armada to the rest of the country. Beacons were lit progressively eastwards along the south coast of England informing London and Queen Elizabeth I of the imminent invasion. According to legend, Francis Drake, the vice admiral in command of the English fleet, was first told of the sighting of the Armada while playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe, just across the Cornish border in Devon. He is said to have answered that ‘there is plenty of time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards’ - but there is no reliable evidence for this.

On the second day of celebrations crowds flocked to the Mall to see the Queen and her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, but this was sadly the only one of the spectacular events over the four days that she could attend, due to increasing frailty, although she did make a brief appearance on the balcony on the final day, together with the three future kings of England.

She missed the Jubilee thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral where the crowds heckled Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie with a chorus of booze (sorry, boos) and where Johnson gave a reading at the service, ironically a passage from the Bible about the importance of truth and honour. A day after the jubilee celebrations Johnson won the backing of a majority of Tory MPs in a confidence vote despite a significant revolt against his leadership, 41.2% of conservative MPs voting against him. And despite two humiliating by-election defeats later in the month he still clings on, refusing to do the honourable thing and resign.

The Jubilee celebrations were a great success, and a great advert for Britain, but there is no disguising that the country is in a mess, with prices rising at their fastest rate in 40 years, and inflation nearing 2 digit figures. Rubbing salt in our wounds was a three day rail strike, the worst in 30 years, and news that the percentage of people testing positive for Coronavirus has increased in the UK, most likely caused by infections from Omicron variants.

There were no Covid thoughts at Falmouth's Chain Locker, which was busy on the night of the June Cornish Mining Sundowner, but Falmouth was heaving a couple of days later at the start of the annual Sea Shanty Festival.

But a few days later Falmouth and the rest of Cornwall were effectively cut off from the rest of England due to the National Rail Strike, with no trains passing Plymouth. And speaking of Falmouth, it looks certain that next year's June MEI Conferences will be back to the National Maritime Museum. Formal announcements will be made soon.

The National Maritime Museum overlooking Falmouth harbour

An finally, four days ago we held an MEI 'work event' to say farewell to Jon and family, who set off for their new life in Luxembourg on Wednesday, from where Kathryn has been commuting back and forth over the past couple of months, having taken up her new role as Director of the European Space Resources Innovation Centre at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology. We are certainly going to miss them but we know they have an exciting future ahead.

The family say au revoir to Jon, Kathryn, Josephine and Seth

It was good to see Dean Eastbury, who called in with his partner Penny to wish them well. Dean is now retired in Hayle on the north Cornwall coast and is a regular attendee at the Cornish Mining Sundowners. He was formerly Executive Publishing Manager at Elsevier, looking after Minerals Engineering and International Journal of Mineral Processing for many years, as well as representing Elsevier at MEI Conferences. Kathryn was one of the editors of IJMP until its merger with Minerals Engineering in 2018.

Dean (3rd left) with me, Barbara, Jon, Kathryn and Amanda


Monday, 27 June 2022

Comminution '23: Call for Abstracts

We are looking forward to being back at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town next April for Comminution '23, and it's great to have the support of so many companies already.

There is now a call for abstracts for the conference. Abstracts should be submitted online no later than October 31st. If accepted, you will be required to submit a draft paper of your presentation, which will be issued to conference delegates on a USB as a conference Proceedings. 

After the conference you will be invited to submit a final paper for peer-review. If accepted it will be published in Minerals Engineering journal, and included in ScienceDirect in the virtual special issue of the conference.

MEI's previous comminution conference in Cape Town was Comminution '18Comminution '20 was postponed for a year due to the pandemic, and had to be held online, as Comminution '21, last year. We are delighted to hear that papers resulting from presentations at Comminution '21 have received awards from our Industry Advocate, the Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution (CEEC), which recognises outstanding published research and field work that contributes to making mineral processing more eco-efficient. For the past decade the global not-for-profit organisation has been championing greater sustainability in mining, with a strong focus on communicating knowledge, technology and approaches that reduce energy usage in the high-intensity breaking, crushing and grinding processes.

The 2021 CEEC Medal for Technical Research was awarded to the authors of the paper The Double Wheel Breakage Test. This was presented at Comminution '21 by Marcos Bueno and was published in Minerals Engineering, Volume 168, July 2021. The authors collaborated from across the world, comprising Finland’s Marcos Bueno of Geopyörä, the University of Oulu’s Janne Torvela and Toni Liedes and Tábatha Chávez Matus of Oulu Mining School; Rajiv Chandramohan from Ausenco, Canada and Malcolm Powell of Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre, The University of Queensland, Australia.

Marcos Bueno
The winning paper shares the development of a prototype breakage testing device, Geopyörä, and shows breakage calibration results that indicate its potential to improve geometallurgical ore testing. I met the CEO and Founder of Geopyörä, Dr. Marcos de Paiva Bueno, at the SME Meeting in Salt Lake City earlier in the year. Geopyörä has been in existence for just over a year. The small company offers state-of-the-art rock breakage characterisation technology which allows mining companies to rapidly test several samples at low cost and generate a large amount of high quality data, which can be used to better assess the ore hardness variability, reduce risks and add value to projects. Marcos has already signed up to exhibit at Comminution '23.

The CEEC Medal Evaluation Panel also awarded two High Commendations. The 2021 CEEC Medal High Commendation for Technical Research was awarded to "SAG mill energy and wear insights derived from measuring inside the mill", authored by Dr Paul Shelley, a regular contributor to MEI's comminution series, and Eugene Davies from Molycop Global, Jacques Olivier, Western Australian School of Mines, Curtin University and Mark Atta Danso, Westgold Resources, Australia. This paper was presented at Comminution ’21 and is the second year running that Dr Shelley’s research on SAG mill optimisation has received a High Commendation in this category. The judges noted: “It is good to see work progressing on understanding the efficiency gains that can be achieved by understanding what happens inside a mill. By getting real measurements from the heart of the breakage process, the paper shows how researchers, operators and suppliers can systematically investigate methods and materials to improve milling efficiency.

The 2021 CEEC Medal High Commendation for Operations was to "Throughput improvements at the Capstone Pinto Valley Operation", which was a video presentation delivered at Comminution ‘21. The work was authored by Umut Erol and Curtis Wettstein from Capstone Mining Corporation’s Pinto Valley copper mine in Arizona, US, and Adrian Dance of SRK Consulting, Canada. The judging panel said the well-presented, clear and concise presentation provided evidence of how increased fragmentation affected project efficiency and operating costs. “The work outlines how projects can make material value improvements through diligent and well planned work focused on optimising comminution efficiency to improve plant capacity and reduce operating costs,” the judges said.

All the presentations from Comminution '21 are available on demand and we now look forward to catching up with all the presenters face to face in Cape Town in April for Comminution '23.


Thursday, 23 June 2022

Will the production of critical minerals be sufficient to satisfy the green revolution?

The programme for the final day of next month's Sustainable Minerals '22 is devoted to critical minerals, those that  are essential to the green revolution, but whose future supply cannot be guaranteed due to scarcity and geopolitical factors (see posting of 23rd May). The day will end with a 2 hour panel discussion "Will the production of critical minerals be sufficient to satisfy the green revolution". The image below from the European Chemical Society, shows very clearly the elements in the Periodic Table which are most at risk.

The session will be chaired by Jeff Townsend, an experienced public affairs and campaign strategist working at the highest levels in business and politics. He is founder of the Critical Minerals Association (CMA), which provides a unique platform for companies and individuals to come together and share key insights with the UK Government. The CMA is an industry associate to MEI Conferences.

The four panelists bring a wealth of diverse experience in critical minerals and mineral processing.  Dr. Anita Parbhakar-Fox is an Associate Professor at the Sustainable Minerals Institute of the University of Queensland. She has been an assistant editor of Minerals Engineering and is currently leader of the mine waste transformation through characterisation group at the SMI.

Prof. Markus Reuter has been a long time consultant to MEI's sustainability conferences. He is Chief Expert and  Professor at the SMS group GmbH, Germany, Adjunct Professor on Recycling at Curtin University, Australia and Honorary Professor at the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany, where he was a Director for almost five years.

Lucy Crane is the ESG and sustainability manager at Cornish Lithium Ltd in Cornwall and is head of the Women in Mining (UK) Membership and Professional Development Committee. She is a geologist, with an MSc in Mining Geology from Camborne School of Mines and a Master’s degree in Earth Sciences from the University of Oxford. Part of her role at Cornish Lithium is to foster collaboration with other industry and academic partners to accelerate the exploration programme and test new concepts. Lucy has a keen interest in furthering the interests of young mining professionals and in promoting the mining industry to students.

Yousef Ghorbani is an associate professor at the Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, involved in sustainable access to high-tech and energy-critical materials in transition to the green economy. He has been a regular contributor to MEI Conferences, in Biohydrometallurgy, Process Mineralogy, Comminution and Flotation, so has a very wide experience of the minerals industry.

It is likely to be a very lively and useful panel discussion. Registration for the conference is open, and the full programme is available for viewing. And it is not too late to submit an abstract if you could like to present your work.

Finally thanks to our sponsors for their support:


Monday, 20 June 2022

Memories of Solid-Liquid Separation '02, Falmouth

Solid-Liquid Separation '02 began just over 20 years ago, on June 18th 2020. Held over 3 days at the Falmouth Beach Resort Hotel, which was destroyed by fire in 2012, the conference was sponsored by Axia Mozley and Larox Corporation. MEI's first solid-liquid separation conference was attended by over 50 delegates from 15 countries.

The social programme began with a coastal walk on the first evening.

The gala dinner was held in the Falmouth Beach Hotel, with predrinks in the beautiful seafront gardens.

The conference also featured a boat trip sponsored by Axsia-Mozley. The boat excursion offered picturesque views of the Fal estuary, live jazz music, and the characteristic Cornish pasties and saffron cakes. A stop in St. Mawes allowed for exploration of this iconic Cornish village, which houses a number of historic pubs. 

Papers from the conference were published in Volume 16 Number 2, a special 'Solid-Liquid Separation' issue of Minerals Engineering.


Friday, 17 June 2022

A warm welcome to old and new faces at the June Mining Sundowner

The Chain Locker was busy last night, on the warmest evening of the year so far. Crowds have been flocking into Falmouth for the annual 3-day Sea Shanty Festival, the largest nautical music and song festival in Europe, which starts tomorrow. Falmouth has a long history as a first safe port of call for deep-water sailing ships and sailors filled the waterside taverns, such as the 17th century Chain Locker, and their shanties and stories are kept alive to this day. 

There was an unusually high turnout for the sundowner, with a few surprise guests among the regulars. It was great to welcome back Linda and Mark Shimmield. Linda has always been a regular at the summer sundowners, but this was her first in three years. Linda and Mark are based in Adelaide and have been effectively locked in Australia during the worst of the pandemic. Mark, a CSM alumnus, travels a great deal but Linda will now, as in past years, spend the summer in their apartment by the harbour so we look forward to her presence over the next few months.

A welcome back to Linda Shimmield

It was also good to welcome a number of youngsters, mostly current CSM students, and Barbara and I were particularly pleased to see our grandson, 17-year old William Collins, the elder son of Amanda, at his first sundowner. Maybe he will be the next generation of the MEI dynasty!  He has played a significant role in MEI's recent online conferences, filming and editing Jon and Amanda's opening addresses.

William with his grandparents.......
......and directing his Uncle Jon at an online conference
Regulars with CSM students

Last night was a pleasant occasion for renewing old acquaintances, and we look forward to doing the same at the next sundowner at the Chain Locker, which will be on Thursday July 21st from 5.30pm.