Saturday, 26 November 2011

Reflections on two wonderful weeks

Barbara and I are now in Johannesburg airport waiting for our flight back to Cape Town, and catching up on emails. Many thanks to all of you who have commented on Flotation '11. We appreciate your views, which will be invaluable in improving the quality of MEI Conferences.

While relaxing in Madagascar I was reflecting on last week's Flotation '11, and on how privileged we are to have a life in the minerals industry, travelling the world to wonderful places and meeting new and interesting people. It would be hard to find a more beautiful conference venue than Cape Town's Vineyard Hotel and to spend 5 days in the company of old friends and the many new faces who I hope will become part of the MEI fold.

Before we return to a cold and wet winter in Cornwall, we will be spending a week in Noordhoek, just south of Cape Town. I will be responding briefly to emails when possible, but apologies once more to Minerals Engineering authors - I will be getting to grips with your submissions on my return to UK in just over a week's time.

As to Madagascar- we would highly recommend it, and below are a few photos taken during our week on this fascinating and colourful island. Hopefully they capture the various facets of Madagascar, although we saw only a tiny fraction of this huge island, the 4th largest in the world.

Friday, 25 November 2011

From the MEI Archives #6- Istanbul 1984

By the Bosphorus, Istanbul, during a weekend break from the 2-week NATO Advanced Study Institute on Minerals Processing Plant Design held in Bursa, Turkey in September 1984.

Does anyone have any memories of this wonderful 2 weeks? In the picture, I remember Cornelius Ek (centre), then Dick Burt, Gordon Agar, and far right Jacques du Cuyper.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

From the MEI Archives #5 - Chingola 1973

Back almost 40 years ago this week to a photo taken at the Nchanga Rugby Club, Zambia in 1973.

Four metallurgists are captured in this picture, me, Giles Day, Phil Cudby, John Farthing and the late Jock McGregor.

Does anyone have any memories of this time?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Normal MEI service will resume as soon as possible.

Time to relax now after a very full and enjoyable week in Cape Town for Flotation '11.

Barbara and I are now in Johannesburg and tomorrow fly to Madagascar for a week's holiday before returning to Cape Town for a further week, then back to UK. I apologise to all Minerals Engineering authors - there will be a few week's delay in dealing with any submissions.

Jon and Kathryn leave for UK tomorrow, and Jon will deal with any MEI enquiries ( until next Friday, when they leave for Chile and the Procemin '11 conference. From then until December 4th, contact Amanda (, who returns to UK next Thursday after a short break in Camp's Bay.

Flotation '11- a final summary

Flotation '11 was the largest ever MEI Conference, with 283 delegates, from 30 countries, attending the two symposia, on Fundamentals and Applications, over the 4 days. The conference attracted 17 corporate sponsors, and 21 companies exhibited their supplies and services.

Over 100 papers were presented, in oral and poster sessions, and the conference Proceedings is now available from MEI on CD. All authors have been invited to submit their final papers for peer-review, and those accepted will be published in a special flotation issue of Minerals Engineering in 2012.

Despite the intensity of the week, there was time for relaxation, at the welcoming reception and the conference dinner at the Gold Museum in the centre of Cape Town. We also thank AMIRA for sponsoring the cocktail reception during the Applications symposium.

A special thanks also to our two flotation consultants, Prof. Dee Bradshaw and Prof. J.-P. Franzidis.
A final thanks to all who attended Flotation '11 and we look forward to seeing you at the next conference in this series, Flotation '13, which will be held in Cape Town from November 18-21, 2013. Details will be published soon on MEI Online.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Flotation '11- Applications Symposium

J-P Franzidis, Dan Alexander and Jon Wills
Wednesday 16th November

Jon welcomed the 34 new delegates to the Applications Symposium, which opened this morning, and then introduced MEI consultant Prof. J-P. Franzidis, of the University of Cape Town, who introduced the symposium with a brief overview, pointing out the breadth of the applications (nearly a dozen different mineral commodities) and the topics to be covered.. He also drew attention to the illustrious list of delegates, which includes an Order of Australia, the Chair of the International Mineral Processing Council, the chairmen of the 2014 and 2016 IMPCs, two Gaudin medallists, as well as lots of young people (which is good for the future). Finally he highlighted that, especially in these tough financial times, with the world concerned about the environment, and energy and water, technology and innovation are what are going to get us through, and that is what this symposium offers.
The symposium keynote was given by Dr. Dan Alexander of JKTech, Australia, on the role that flotation models have in influencing and understanding the flotation behaviour of operating plants, improving the geometallurgical prediction of ore types and reducing the risk of plant design.

Morning chairmen Kari Heiskanen
and Chris Greet
Modelling and simulation were the main topics of the technical session up to the coffee break, with good papers from Canada, USA, Australia, and UK.

The influence of mineralogy on flotation performance was the subject for the remainder of the morning. This included papers on the Newcrest Telfer copper-gold operation in Australia, real-time mineralogical analysis of mixed copper ores and prediction of PGM flotation from automated SEM data.

Afternoon chairpersons Cyril O'Connor
and Kathryn Hadler
Improving flotation performance and control was the main theme of the afternoon session, which closed with 3 papers on cell innovations, one from Santa Maria University and Outotec, Chile on a new mechanism for large flotation cells, followed by Outotec, Finland on the effect of mixing mechanism developments on performance, and concluding with a paper from Maelgwyn Mineral Services on the Imhoflot pneumatic flotation machine. The day ended with the presentation by AMIRA and their hosted cocktail party.

Thursday17th November

Morning chairs R.-H.Yoon
and Elaine Wightman
There were a number of papers this morning on control of flotation, including innovative techniques such as passive acoustic emissions monitoring, 3D electrical resistance tomography, online pulp chemistry monitoring, and the use of machine vision to predict flotation performance.

A dynamic process simulator, the Outotec Virtual Experience, has been used successfully for operator training in mineral processing, and was described by authors from Outotec Finland and Sweden's Lulea University of Technology. A report on this advanced training simulator can be found on MEI Online .

With Don McKee

A surprise visitor this morning was Don McKee, former director of the JKMRC. He was impressed by the standard of papers, and remarked on how things had progressed since 1991, when he presented a keynote lecture at Minerals Engineering '91 in Singapore on the future of automatic control.

I mentioned on Sunday that Clariant would be giving away 4 copies of the SME book Froth Flotation - a Century of Innovation. Three of the lucky winners in the daily draw, Goran Adolfsson, Jacqueline Monama and Chanda Ngulube, are pictured right.

The final session of Flotation '11 dealt with plant operations, and included papers on nickel, mixed oxides-sulphides copper ores, PGE ores, and coal flotation.

The session was chaired by the MEI consultants, Dee Bradshaw and J.-P.Franzidis, who finished by summarising the conference, which was characterised by many excellent presentations by young people. It has been evident that a new age of measurement and instrumentation is dawning, aided by developments in computing,and the importance of mineralogy has been emphasised.

MEI's Amanda then closed the conference and invited delegates to Flotation '13, at the Vineyard Hotel again, in 2 years time. We then said our farewells over a glass or two of wine in the hotel gardens.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The AMIRA Roadshow kicks off at Flotation '11

The AMIRA "P9" Project- The Optimisation of Mineral Processes by Modelling and Simulation - is the world's largest university-based mineral processing research program. From commencement in 1962 under Alban Lynch, it has re-shaped the practice of designing and optimising mineral processing plants; using mathematical modelling and computer simulation. The research team includes some of the world's leading researchers in key disciplines of mineral processing.

Led by the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC), and including contributions from six universities across the world, the basis of P9 has been plant-based research activity. The Project 'Mission' has been to enhance the performance of mineral processing plants in terms of efficiency, and provide direct value to sponsor companies. The industry has captured benefits from the program worth many hundreds of millions of dollars: through the application of software arising from the project; specialist methodologies; new products and instruments; and expertise available in various forms.

The 16th extension of the Project - P9P, to commence in 2012 - will continue this tradition by building on the ground-breaking development, within P9O, of three-dimensional ore characterisation technology and its application to integrated process simulation, which has enabled predictive capability to be extended across the whole process chain. Process models will be developed to be based on mineral specific properties.

AMIRA and the research team are embarking on a global "Roadshow" to present the program for the next 4 year extension to potential sponsor organisations. As part of this, a presentation was given this afternoon at Flotation '11 by Craig Brown, of the JKMRC, which was followed by an AMIRA sponsored cocktail reception.

For those interested in further information, please contact either Ross McClelland ( or Craig Brown (

MEI Award 2011

MEI is pleased to announce the inaugural award for outstanding contribution to minerals engineering by a young person in 2011.

Nominations, for persons under 35 years of age at December 31st 2011, should be submitted by email to by 17th February 2012 and the name of the recipient will be announced at the end of that month.

Nominations should include the name, age and affiliation of the nominee, and reasons for the nomination.

The recipient will receive an engraved award, a certificate and a complimentary registration to any MEI conference in 2012/13, with the option of presenting an MEI Award lecture.

A memorable Flotation '11 conference dinner

We are recovering this morning from a wonderful conference dinner last night at the Gold Restaurant in the centre of Cape Town. We were treated to a 15 course menu of sample dishes from various African countries, and wine from Franschhoek's Rickety Bridge Estate.

The excellent entertainment was provided by Pulse of Mali, and the highlight was the finale, with stirring singing from the whole of the restaurant staff.

Those delegates attending next year's Comminution '12 and Process Mineralogy '12 can look forward to a similar memorable evening at Gold.

Many photos were taken during the evening, which will soon be published on MEI Online, and a few of these are shown below.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Flotation '11- Fundamentals Symposium

Monday November 14th

Flotation '11 is by far the largest MEI Conference on record, with over 280 delegates representing 29 countries. This morning I welcomed the 247 delegates who will be attending the first two days, the Fundamentals Symposium, after which our consultant in this area, Prof. Dee Bradshaw of the JKMRC, Australia opened the event (see posting of 13th November for full details).

Me, Jim Finch and Dee Bradshaw
The keynote lecture, Bubbles and Flotation, was given by Prof. Jim Finch, of McGill University, Canada, who highlighted that flotation may be the largest industrial application of adsorptive bubble techniques. The production and distribution of bubbles is central to plant operation but has not received as much attention from researchers as, say, the control over particle properties. The situation is changing as new measurement tools become available. The presentation summarised three areas of research into bubbles as related to flotation processes: determining frother structure-property relationships the example being the link between critical coalescence concentration (CCC) and the hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB); the origin of bi-modal distributions in the absence of frother using a combination of high-speed imaging and acoustic emission; and the link between particle recovery, gas holdup and ionic strength in the case of inorganic salts.

Morning chairmen Andreas Fredrikkson
and Juan Yianatos
The bubbles and flotation theme continued in the morning session with papers from Finland, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa. These included the first of the 13 papers at the conference co-authored by researchers from Australia's JKMRC/JKTech, who are represented by 12 delegates, as well as being major sponsors and exhibitors.

There are a number of young people making their conference presentation debuts at the conference, and I managed to get some of them together this morning for a photo (below), which I hope I may be able to embarass them with in a few years time!

With Silas Hundi
Silas Hundi is our first ever delegate from Eritrea. He is representing Nevsun Resources, a growing high grade, low cost gold producer focused on its Bisha Mine in Eritrea, East Africa. Bisha is a large precious and base metal volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit that went into commercial gold-silver production in February 2011. It is expected to produce more than 1.14 million ounces of gold, 11.9 million ounces of silver, 821 million pounds of copper, and over 1 billion pounds of zinc during its initially estimated 13 year mine life. In 2013, the processing plant will be expanded, with transition into low cost copper, gold, and silver production.

Afternoon chairmen David Verrelli
and Pablo Brito-Parada
The University of Cape Town is just a short drive from the conference hotel, so it is not surprising that their strong mineral flotation group is represented by 19 delegates and they presented the first of the 16 papers with UCT co-authors this afternoon.

Surface chemistry and water quality and usage were the main themes of the long afternoon session, which included an interesting paper on improving the flotation of diamonds, from Mike Rylatt of Sepro Mineral Systems, Canada (see blog of 29 September). This paper is co-authored by Roe-Hoan Yoon of Virginia Tech, USA, who, like this morning's keynote speaker, Jim Finch, is a past recipient of the prestigious Gaudin Gold Medal Award. The Virginia Tech group has co-authored 6 papers in the conference.

It has been a long, but interesting, 10 hour day, and at the end of it, welcome relaxation in the hotel bar and swimming pool.

Tuesday November 15th

Morning chairpersons Graeme Jameson
and Belinda McFadzean

An eclectic mix of papers this morning, including presentations on CFD modelling and positron emission particle tracking by the impressive team from Imperial College, the premier mineral processing research group in the UK. The team of seven, led by Prof. Jan Cilliers, will be presenting 8 papers over the next four days.

A popular innovation this year has been the Satellite Room, where delegates can sit and work while listening to the presentations, transmitted from the main confence room with the visual displays.

Afternoon chairs, Natalie Shackleton
and Norman Lotter
Reagents were the main topics in the afternoon session, with interesting papers from Australia and Japan on the treatment of refractory ores (see also blog of 10th September). I was particuarly interested in two papers from Greg Hope's team at Griffith University, Australia, on the flotation of chrysocolla and malachite using hydroxamate reagents. During my time at Nchanga in the early 70s, the world's largest copper solvent extraction plant was built solely on the inability of the flotation plant to recover chrysocolla, cuprite and pseudomalachite.

Despite the beautiful weather, the confence centre has been buzzing today and the long morning coffee and lunch breaks gave plenty of time for poster and exhibition viewing, as well as for informal mini-meetings. I met with Dean Eastbury of Elsevier, to discuss the progress of Minerals Engineering journal, which will be reported in the blog next month. I also discussed with Prof. Graeme Jameson his new concept, the Fluidised Bed Flotation Cell, which is described in the November issue of International Mining, on display in the MEI booth. At the end of the final fundamentals session, there was a short time for relaxation before the coaches left for Cape Town and tonight's conference dinner.