Monday, 30 November 2009

Catching up with news in Knysna

A very relaxing weekend in Knysna, although the weather is not too great.

Celebrated my 64th birthday today and caught up with news and emails. Skyped Amanda, who leaves for a week's business in Barcelona this afternoon. Jon is enjoying sand-surfing in Namibia.

Today is the official deadline for abstracts for Comminution '10, so I have been busy acknowledging receipt of those received today. We will be putting the programme together in late December, so it is definitely not too late for abstract submissions.

I see that Stephan Harrison has added an interesting comment to my post of November 23rd.

I read with interest the obituary to Prof. Jan Leja on MEI Online. What an incredible life he had. Although I never met him personally I knew of his work, and used his book The Surface Chemistry of Flotation during my early years at Camborne School of Mines.

Saturday, 28 November 2009


We arrived in Knysna this afternoon, after an overnight stop at a very hot Swellendam. For the next two days we will be relaxing by the beautiful lagoon, and catching up with email.
Good to see that abstracts are now flowing in for Comminution 10 and papers are arriving for the special Flotation '09 issue of Minerals Engineering.

Friday, 27 November 2009

On the Quality of BBC Science Reporting

Interesting to see that the UK’s Daily Mail has devoted a whole page article on the UEA CRU email leaks (see my blog of 23rd November). It complains that the BBC etc are not giving any coverage to these leaks and questions why not.

Very good question! I have felt for some time that the BBC’s science reporting is abysmal with unsubstantiated alarmist stories, often accompanied with vague statements such as “scientists say..”.

Climate change is almost always preceded with ‘man made’ and often the reports begin with ‘scientists agree that…’. Sorry, no, they don’t!!

If there is anyone from the BBC out there reading this, I would be really interested in your views, particularly on what I see is a bias towards anthropogenic glocal warming.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Whale-watching in Hermanus

We left a cloudy Cape Town and then spent the afternoon watching whales in sunny Hermanus. The ‘whale-capital’ of South Africa has a beautiful coastal path, and from there we spotted a number of southern-right whales and orcas.

We have had many superb meals over the years in South Africa, but none finer than tonight’s at Hermanos. As close to perfection as you can get, and at a very reasonable price.

Maelgwyn Mineral Services shows early commitment to Flotation '11

The thriving Welsh company Maelgwyn Mineral Services has shown its continued support of MEI by coming on board as first corporate sponsors of Flotation '11, which will be held in Cape Town in November 2011.
MMS are also sponsors of Precious Metals '10, which will be held in Falmouth in June.
MMS sponsored and exhibited at this month's Flotation '09.
Their team at the event are shown below: Rainer Imhof, Adrian Singh, Mike Battersby, Hennie Stallknecht and Steve Flatman

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Last day at Noordhoek

Just had my last 'surf-walk' on Noordhoek Beach. Cool and cloudy today.

We took the train from Fish Hoek to St. James, then walked to Kalk Bay, where we had lunch in the always excellent Harbour House.

Tomorrow we leave for Hermanus, then on to Knysna. I will be blogging and checking email when and where I can find internet access.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Flotation '09 Photos Published

Just had a message from Amanda to inform me that photographs from Flotation '09 are now available for viewing and downloading from the conference website.

The Fairest Cape

The temperature today was 25C, a full 9C cooler than yesterday. We had lunch at the Black Marlin restaurant, just south of Simon's Town.This was once our favourite Cape Town restaurant, but after a few poor meals, we abandoned it several years ago. We gave it another chance today, which was a mistake. Wonderful setting but mediocre meal.

Then down to the Cape, where Mike, Barbara and I did our favourite short walk, 45 minutes from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Point.

The Cape of Good Hope


Carbon capture and storage is one of the major themes of Climate Change and the Minerals Industry ’11, so it was interesting to read in today’s Cape Times that SASOL, who has always been a supporter of MEI Conferences, is to sign an expensive deal today to buy into the Norwegian government’s international BIGCCS carbon capture and research centre. The company will thereby be demonstrating a large commitment to CCS, even as the South African government expresses reluctance to pay for cutting carbon emissions to tackle climate change.

Norway is already capturing and storing carbon dioxide in the seabed shelves from which it extracted oil and gas. Norway believes that with its oil-from-coal expertise, SASOL can make a valuable contribution to CCS research.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

First feedback on Flotation ‘09

An email in this morning from MEI’s good friend, and consultant to Nickel Processing ’10, Dr. Norman Lotter, who is safely home in Sudbury after an uneventful but tiring return trip from South Africa.

He is pleased that he and his co-author, Prof. Dee Bradshaw, received very favourable comments and compliments about their paper on mixed collectors, the response exceeding their expectations.

Dee Bradshaw and Norman Lotter at Flotation '09

Norm says of Flotation ’09 “It was an excellent conference that typifies MEI. The strong attendance in spite of the recession tells of the value that the delegates see in both its technical value and networking value.”

Norm, we really do appreciate your comments which make worthwhile all our efforts to produce high quality events.

There was a definite spirit of optimism at the conference regarding the economic recovery. Looking at the commodity prices adds weight to this optimism. Base metal prices have increased steadily over the past 12 months, copper from just under $4000/t to $6700/t, lead from 900 to 2400 $/t, zinc from 1200 to 2200 $/t and nickel from 9000 to 16,500 $/t. Precious metal prices have also gained steadily. So I think we should look forward to 2010 with cautious optimism.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

A day in Cape Town

It's hard to believe that it is 3 years since the last MEI Conference (Reagents '06) at the Mount Nelson Hotel, before we discovered the beautiful Vineyard Hotel at Claremont.

Today we called in at the 'Nellie' for coffee, before walking through the City Bowl,via the Bo-Kaap, the colourful Muslim district and Cape Town's oldest residential area. At the vibrant Waterfront we had a very average lunch at the once excellent 221 Restaurant.

The Bo-Kaap Area
Then back for an exhilarating walk through the surf on Noordhoek Beach. I have been walking on this beach every year for the past 10 years and this is the first year that venturing into the water has not been an ordeal. Previously the Atlantic water has been unbearably icy but this year it is almost tepid and there are surfers out there with no wet-suits.
I can only assume that the cold Benguela current from the Antarctic has shifted a few degrees west. Can anyone enlighten me on this? Stephan, if you are reading this, can you provide an explanation? Anything to do with climate change?
Tomorrow I plan to catch up with the world of minerals engineering, while Barbara and our friends lunch at the Winchester Mansions Hotel at Sea Point.

Friday, 20 November 2009

A Lazy Day

A very hot day today, so did very little apart from the afternoon beach walk.
In the early evening, we had a braai (BBQ) with neighbours.

Minerals Engineering Special Issues

One of the primary aims of MEI Conferences is to produce state-of-the-art special issues of the peer-reviewed journal Minerals Engineering.

The initial peer-review of a paper takes place at the conference during its presentation and discussion, so I am hoping that authors from last week’s Flotation ’09 are now hard at work preparing their final papers for submission to the Elsevier site. Profs. Dee Bradshaw and J-P Franzidis will be advising me on appropriate referees to supplement the 140 reviewers held in my journal database. Already I have had delegates from the conference kindly offering their services to review specific papers.

I must remind all authors that good conference papers are not necessarily good journal papers and before submission they must ask whether the paper is innovative and of generic interest i.e. it must provide information that is of use to workers outside the particular mine, ore-body or other operation described.

When the papers are submitted, they are initially scrutinised by Elsevier to check formatting, standard of English etc. It is essential that papers are written according to the guidelines laid out in the Guide for Authors. If satisfactory, the papers are passed on to me and I assign suitable referees, specialists in the subject matter, to review the papers.

The process of reviewing, revision, further refereeing etc can be lengthy, but this is the basis of science publication and, although not infallible, ensures that standards are maintained at a high level.

We are hoping that the special Flotation issue of Minerals Engineering will be published in mid-2010.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A quiet day

Very hot today so Barbara and I had a restful day, while our friends visited Stellenbosch.

We had morning coffee in Simon’s Town, and then spent the rest of the day at Monkey Valley. I went for my usual, today uneventful, walk on the beach.

Simon's Town

Jon emailed from Botswana. He had just left Zambia and was disappointed that there was virtually no water to be seen flowing over the Victoria Falls. Also heard from Amanda from a very cold and wet Cornwall.

We have always felt that Cape Town has some of the world’s finest restaurants, but tonight we has an outstanding meal at the local ‘The Foodbarn’ Restaurant in Noordhoek.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Groot Constantia and an attempted mugging!

An excellent lunch today at Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest wine farm.

In the afternoon I went on my usual Noordhoek Beach walk but due to the very strong wind I was alone on the long beach. At least I thought I was, until confronted by a young guy demanding money. When I refused he attacked me, and I managed to hit him fairly hard on the head, after which he made off.

In thirteen consecutive years visiting Cape Town, that was the first violent incident that I have encountered but a lesson on not to walk alone on deserted beaches!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Noordhoek Beach

A hot day today in the Cape. Late afternoon I went for a 6 mile walk-jog through the surf on Noordhoek Beach, and it was stunning.
Earlier our friends Judy and Mike Ward, from Falmouth, and Judy’s sister, Jane, from London, arrived from UK to join us for 10 days at Monkey Valley.

Monday, 16 November 2009

A day of Farewells

Just as summer finally arrives in Cape Town, we had to say farewell to Jon and Amanda today.
I drove Jon to the airport this morning, through Cape Town’s appalling early morning traffic. He is on his way to Zambia, from where he begins an overland trip through Botswana and Namibia, arriving back in Cape Town in 3 weeks’ time.

We had an excellent lunch with Amanda at Blues Restaurant in Camps Bay before dropping her off at the airport for her Emirates flight back to the UK.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Chapman's Peak

The 582m Chapman’s Peak overlooks Noordhoek Beach (see yesterday's beach photo), and Chapman’s Peak drive is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world.

Amanda, Jon, Dean Eastbury and I made the fairly strenuous hike to the summit today. The views of Hout Bay were spectacular as was the view from the very cold summit, where we were buffeted by gale force winds.

On our return, a well earned beer was followed by an, unfortunately, very mediocre meal at the local Red Herring Restaurant.

Views of Hout Bay

Jon on the windy summit with Constantia and Fish Hoek in background

Sheltering from the wind on the summit

The capricious Cape Town weather

They call it the Cape of Storms and the weather during the past week has been the worst that we can remember.

Even now, although the weather has improved, it has been totally unpredictable today.

This morning we relaxed in our cottage at Noordhoek, and caught up on emails and phone calls, then in the afternoon Jon, Amanda and I walked 6 miles on Noordhoek Beach, initially in glorious sunshine, then an hour later in a torrential downpour.

Dean Eastbury of Elsevier joined us this evening for drinks and dinner at Monkey Valley’s Thorfynn’s Restaurant.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Farewell to the Vineyard Hotel

The sun finally shone on the Vineyard this morning, as most of the delegates made their way home! Amanda surfaced very late for breakfast, looking extremely fragile after ‘networking’ until 3 in the morning! We will be back in 5 months' time for Comminution '10.

After finalising our accounts with the hotel, Barbara, Jon, Amanda and I collected our rental car for the 30 minute drive to Noordhoek and our timeshare cottage at the beautiful Monkey Valley

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Last Supper

Amanda and Jon enjoying a final Vineyard dinner with Prof. Jan Cilliers and his impressive team of young researchers from Imperial College, UK.

Left to right: Jan Cilliers, Kathyrn Cole, Amanda, Pablo Brito Parada, Gareth Morris, Kathyn Hadler, Chris Smith and Jon.

Flotation '09- the party's over

The conference was officially closed at 1540 by Prof. J-P Franzidis and me, the delegates then enjoying a final wine event in the exhibition area.
It has been a great conference, thanks to the quality of the papers, the high level of interest shown by the delegates, the perfect venue, and, of course, the weather, which has kept most people indoors for the last week!
I would like to thank our 12 sponsors again, and our two consultants, the chairpersons, authors, and all delegates for making this event such a success.
The conference has ended, but has just begun as far as I am concerned, as I now have the satisfying task of putting together a high quality special issue of Minerals Engineering. The conference itself has provided the initial peer-review of the papers and authors have been asked to submit their final revised manuscripts within the next month.
The weather is still atrocious, but is forecast to improve by weekend, which is good news for all who are staying on to sample the delights of the Cape.
The next Flotation conference will be held at the Vineyard Hotel again, from November 7-10, 2011 and Maelgwyn Minerals have already agreed to continue with their sponsorship.
Finally, we will be preparing a report on the conference for MEI Online, and would greatly appreciate your views and comments, sent directly to me at

MEI Twits

MEI is definitely in the 21st Century now. Not only do we have a blog but Amanda is tweeting on Twitter at

If you are young and cool enough to understand this (I am not) then we invite you to follow us.

Francis Petersen calls in

Our old friend Prof. Francis Petersen (pictured left with Cyril O'Connor) called in at the conference this morning. I first met Francis when he was at the Cape Technikon; he then became executive vice president at Mintek before moving on to Anglo Platinum as executive head- strategy.

In April 2008 he took over from Cyril O'Connor as Dean of Engineering and the built environment.

He has many fascinating interdisciplinary projects in the pipeline, which will be highlighted soon in the MEI Online news section.

Face from the past

The first speaker this morning was Barun Gorain, of Barrick Gold Corporation, Canada. His name was familiar to me, but I wasn't aware that we had met exactly 20 years ago in India.
I spent two weeks at the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad in 1989, lecturing to final year students, and Barun was in that group!
During my stay the staff and students had a picnic and impromptu cricket match at Maithon. In the photo below, Barun can just be seen, 3rd from the right. I am in the middle, signing the cricket bat!
Barrick Gold are sponsors of Precious Metals '10, so I hope to see Barun again in Falmouth next June.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Flotation '09- relaxing after Day 3

A very pleasant evening at the Vineyard after a long day of excellent technical presentations. Left to right: Norm Lotter, Cyril O'Connor, me, Barbara, Jon, Nanette O'Connor, Jim Finch and Amanda.

The great thing about this conference is how relaxed everyone seems to be- a combination of great people and great venue!

Flotation '09- Applications Symposium

Despite last night’s revelries, a packed audience heard Prof. J-P Franzidis open the Applications symposium, and introduce Prof. Graeme Jameson of the University of Newcastle, Australia. Graeme’s keynote lecture highlighted recent advances in flotation technology, with a focus on scalping or flash flotation, improving the flotation rate of ultrafines, extending the upper limit for coarse particle flotation, and reducing the energy consumed in the flotation process.

The programme of technical presentations has been very full today, but there was still time for delegates to view and discuss the 20 poster presentations.

In the photo below Amanda views the poster of Prof. Antonio Peres of UFMG, Brazil. Antonio currently holds the record for the highest number of attendances at MEI Conferences. A grand total of 18!!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Floation '09- Conference Dinner at Spier

After a 40 minute drive through torrential rain, we arrived at the Spier Wine Estate near Stellenbosch, for the dinner at Moyo Restaurant.

Great food and a great atmosphere. Below are a few of the photos taken during the evening. There are many more, and these and other conference pictures will be published on MEI Online in a week or so. I will advise on the blog when they have been published.

Flotation '09- Spier dinner photos


Yesterday provided only a brief respite from the awful weather. Only another hour before we leave for Stellenbosch and the conference dinner at Spier, and the rain is lashing down, and the wind howling!

Apparently Cape Town has received over 3 times its average rainfall for the whole month already, and it is only the 10th!

We have never experienced weather like this in Cape Town in our many visits over the years.

MEI's Flotation Consultants

I have known our two MEI Consultants to Flotation '09 for many years.
Prof. Dee Bradshaw is a professorial research fellow at the JKMRC, University of Queensland, Australia, where she is involved in a number of projects focused on process mineralogy and flotation chemistry characterisation and optimisation.
She has worked closely with industrial partners and has published widely, especially in Minerals Engineering, and has been a strong supporter of MEI conferences.

Prof. J-P Franzidis holds the South African National Research Foundation Chair in Minerals Beneficiation at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where he directs the Minerals to Metals Initiative. He is actively involved in flotation research, particularly in modeling of floatability and froth performance, in collaboration with the flotation research groups at JKMRC, McGill University, Canada, University of Newcastle, Australia and Hacettepe University, Turkey.

I first met Dee in 1991 when. as a UCT PhD student, she attended her first international conference, Reagents '91 in Cornwall, UK. She is pictured 3rd from left on the photo below, and on her right is Jules Aupiais of Senmin, one of the sponsors of Flotation '09 and another great supporter of MEI Conferences over the years.

I can't remember when I first met J-P but it is many years ago. In 1982 I designed and taught the first mineral processing course at UCT, and J-P was the first person to teach it after me in the following year. As with Dee, we bump into J-P in many parts of the world, and in September Jon caught sight of him (below) heavily disguised as a tour guide in Slovenia! It turned out not to be J-P, but an amazing look-alike!

MEI is proud to be associated wuth Dee and J-P, who have also agreed to act as advisors to the special issue of Minerals Engineering, which will contain selected peer-reviewed papers from the conference.

Our eminent conference consultants are very important to the success of MEI conferences, and apart from Dee and J-P, there are two others present at Flotation '09. Dr. Norman Lotter is consultant to Nickel Processing '10, and Dr. Megan Becker to Process Mineralogy '10.

This morning Prof. Sue Harrison of UCT called in a the Vineyard for coffee and a chat on the progress of Bio and Hydromet '10 which will also be at the Vineyard next November.

Flotation '09- Day 2

After a very intensive morning session, chaired by Norman Lotter and Greg Hope, delegates enjoyed one of the Vineyard's excellent lunches, before reconvening for the short afternoon session which completed the fundamentals symposium. It was good to hear the feedback that the quality of presentations had been of a very high level.