Sunday, 30 September 2012

XXVI International Mineral Processing Congress Conference Diary

The XXVI IMPC was held at the Ashok Hotel, New Delhi, India, from September 24-28, 2012.

With around 675 papers presented in 17 themed symposia, and an associated exhibition, this report can only scratch the surface of the week's activities. MEI's involvement was mainly with the exhibition, so I invite all those who attended the Congress to submit their comments at the end of this posting.

Sunday September 23rd

Registration opened this morning and we were hoping to set up the MEI booth in the afternoon, but build-up of the booths in the large marquee in front of the Ashok was a long way from completion, so we relaxed before the evening welcoming session. This was an enjoyable event attended by a good number of delegates and accompanying guests, and where we had our first taste of the Indian cuisine which would be provided for us over the next five days.

With 2012 Chairman B.K. Mishra
Belinda McFadzean, Jennie Wiese
and Natalie Shackleton (South Africa)
With Kari Heiskanen (Finland), K.S. Moon (Korea), Prakash Kapur (India) and Warren Bruckard (Australia)
With Jan Drzymala (2nd right) and colleagues
It was great to catch up with old friends and to meet new people on the IMPC scene. It was particularly good to meet Prof. Jan Drzymala and his colleagues from Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland, who are organising next year's MEC 2013, which includes the 50th Symposium on Physicochemical Problems of Mineral Processing, founded by Prof. Jan Laskowski, an IMPC Lifetime Achievement Award winner. MEI is a media sponsor for the event, and I look forward to my first ever visit to Poland next September.

Monday September 24th

After the formal ceremony welcoming over 1000 delegates to the IMPC, Prof. Samirk Brahmachari, Director General of CSIR gave an excellent inaugural address, starting with an overview of India's glorious past in mining and metallurgy and the future aims of CSIR. Due to India's high population density, the challenge is to protect people while exploiting mineral deposits, and clearly new technology is needed to reduce the effect of mining on the population and the environment. There is a need to change our mind-set in realising that we are dealing with finite resources, and technology which is energy efficient and reduces water consumption is required, as well as an increase in the amount of recycling.

Following the opening, delegates were welcomed to the exhibition, which was held in a large marquee in the Ashtok grounds, and the transformation of the interior after a day was reminiscent of the concern a couple of years ago regarding completion of the Commonwealth Games venue in India.

What a difference a day makes
Amanda with IMPC Council
Chairman Cyril O'Connor
What was noticeable among the crowds that flocked in to see the booths was the effort that the IMPC has taken to bring as many students as possible to the meeting. This is highly commendable, and it was really good to meet these young people at the MEI booth.

With VSK University students
Orissa School of Mining Engineering students
Biju Pattnaik University of Technology
Continuing the theme of the inaugural address, the first plenary lecture was given by Hemant Nerurkar, of Tata Steel, India, who discussed the challenges faced by mineral processing in sustainable development. Prof. John Herbst of Metso Minerals, USA, then discussed advanced modeling techniques and their influence on our industry. He talked of Prof. A.M. Gaudin and his students at MIT, who were dedicated to understanding the fundamentals of mineral processing, and as a consequence were always searching for better quantitative descriptions of size reduction, liberation and mineral separations. Prof. Herbst has worked with many of the modelling pioneers who followed Gaudin and has observed first hand the refinement of models as they increased in realisticness from pure empiricism to the current pinnacle of physics based models. Advanced models currently save huge amounts of money by reducing design risks and allowing existing flowsheet optimisation and guiding the development of new high efficiency equipment.

Following lunch in the hotel grounds, the sessions split into seven parallel sessions dealing with all aspects of mineral processing.

Tuesday September 25th

Seven parallel sessions today, including the start of the Processing of Precious Metals Symposium. This contained presentations on the flotation and leaching of PGM ores, which created a few dilemmas, as running in parallel were sessions on flotation and hydrometallurgy. These clashes have become a feature of IMPCs, and the only way to avoid them is to reduce the number of parallel sessions, which means reducing the number of papers. Is quality sustainable if, every two years, around 650 papers are accepted for presentation? I would like to hear views on this, particularly as it is claimed that each paper has been reviewed by at least two referees, a truly mammoth task.

Barun Gorain, of Barrick Gold, Canada,  opened the Precious Metals symposium, noting that it was appropriate to hold this in India, consumer of over half the world's gold. The first keynote speaker, Andrew Logan, remarked that he had just been to a conference where it was proposed that gold be treated as a currency, and not as a commodity, in these turbulent times.

There was much confusion regarding the three plenary lectures this morning. The first two speakers had to withdraw, so the organisers partly filled the gap by moving one of the Friday keynotes, not a good thing to do when people have already set their agendas. I particularly wanted to hear the keynote by Prof. T.C. Rao on an holistic approach for sustainable growth of mineral processing industries. However when I arrived 10 minutes before the scheduled start, his presentation was almost over, due to another unannounced timetable change.

The day's technical sessions finished with afternoon tea, and a very good display of the 270 poster presentations, which was very well attended.

Overall a pretty good day, despite a few hiccups, which was rounded off nicely by the cultural evening where we were entertained by classical Indian dance recitals, followed by a buffet meal in the hotel grounds.

With Pat and Ian Townsend (UK) and Jim Finch (Canada)

Wednesday 26th September

The day started with 6 interesting keynotes, unfortunately all running concurrently. So I opted for Prof. Jan Cilliers, of Imperial College, UK, who presented his final report on the global survey of the supply and demand of minerals engineers, the culmination of work first presented at the Brisbane IMPC, and then at SRCR '11 in Falmouth. Among the interesting facts presented was that China produces 51% of the world's minerals engineering graduates, South America next with 20%, and very surprisingly, India and Australia only 2% and 1% respectively.

China is obviously going to play a major role in the future of minerals engineering, and this is reflected by the high number of delegates at the congress, a trend which has also been apparent at MEI Conferences.

Seven out of the 70 exhibitors at the IMPC are from China. Florrea Mining Reagents is a manufacturer of flotation reagents, there are two ceramic grinding media manufacturers, King's Ceramics, who are sponsors of Comminution '14, and Chemco. Magnetic separators are manufactured by SLon Magnetic Separator Ltd, Shandong Huate Magnetic Technology and Longi Magnet Co, Ltd, and hydrocyclones by Weihai Haiwang Hydrocyclone Co. Ltd.

Jon with Zhang Yongliang of Florrea
Weihai Haiwang Hydrocyclones
Shandong Huate Magnetic Technology
All delegates were invited to the IMPC General Body Meeting, where Dr. Pradip, President of the Organising Committee, announced that the final number of registrations was 1259 delegates from 45 countries, with 572 from India and 121 from China, these two countries accounting for over half the delegates. At this meeting it was announced that Moscow has been invited to bid for the 2018 IMPC.

Thursday 27th September

Today was the final exhibition day and traffic was noticeably thin. Jon and I manned the booth while Amanda took the day off to visit the Taj Mahal at Agra.

One of our neighbouring booths was manned by Daniel Johnston, of Industrial Tomography Systems (ITS) plc, a world leader in electrical resistance tomography. He is pictured left with Suneil Dua, Director of Spectro Lab Equipments, the exclusive distributor of ITS, and Prof. Richard Williams, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, UK. This UK company provides a range of electrical and acoustic-based tomography systems for research and process applications. These systems provide data to improve process efficiency, characterise particle size distribution, investigate multi component flowrate and develop new and improved mixing technologies.

Tomography was the subject of one of this morning's plenary lectures, given by Prof. Jan Miller of the University of Utah, who will also present a keynote at Process Mineralogy '12. He discussed the advances that have been made in X-ray tomography for the processing of mineral resources. Resource characterisation is a critical component for optimisation of the mine to mill process, including innovative processing for sustainable growth. Such characterisation is now referred to as geometallurgy, with advanced instrumentation being used, including high resolution X-ray tomography. The geometallurgical information obtained is important for mine planning, design and analysis of separation processes, etc.

It was a great pleasure to see Prof. T.C. Rao after many years, one of India's most respected mineral processors. A real gentleman, he was described by one of yesterday's chairmen as the father of Indian minerals engineering. He was one of the pioneers of empirical modelling of hydrocyclones, and I first met him in 1989, when I was his guest as a visiting lecturer at the Indian School of Mines. He was then Head of the Department of Fuel and Minerals Engineering, after which he was Director of the Regional Research Laboratory (CSIR) at Bhopal. He is now an independent consultant advising various industries.

Following lunch I had a meeting with Gecamin, one of the organisers of the 2014 IMPC, which will be held in Santiago, Chile. So I unfortunately missed what was apparently an excellent panel discussion on Leveraging Information and Communication Technology in Mining and Mineral Processing. If anyone can fill in any details I would be grateful.

The conference banquet was held at the India Expo Centre, an hour's coach drive away. This was a glittering occasion that I enjoyed, in no small part due to the interesting and sociable people on my table.

A very popular feature introduced at the Brisbane IMPC is the presentation of awards to the authors of the 10 best papers presented by authors under 35 years of age, who are pictured below. I wonder if anyone can put names to faces?

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of mineral processing's most prestigious award, the IMPC Lifetime Achievement Award. The recipient was Prof. P.C. Kapur, and more details on this can be found on the posting of 27th September.

Prof. Kapur (2nd left) with Prof. Jan Laskowski, Prof. Eric Forssberg,
Prof. Cyril O'Connor and Dr. Pradip

Friday 28th September

Presenting a paper on the last day of a 5-day conference is a thankless task, but there was a very good attendance this morning for the sessions, which reflects on the quality of the week's presentations, which people say has been generally high.

The first of the two final plenary lectures was given by Andrew Lane of The Monitor Group, South Africa. Entitled The Promise of Africa he highlighted that 95% of the world's chromium, 88% of platinum and 66% of phosphates are mined in Africa, so there are great opportunities, but he also pointed out the great risks on this turbulent continent.

Lifetime achievement award recipient P.C. Kapur presented the final plenary, a philosophical ramble through mineral processing and its problems, showing that mineral processing is complex and has evolved empirically and very slowly over many decades.

In closing the congress, IMPC Council Chairman Prof. Cyril O'Connor thanked the Indian organising committee for providing an event worthy of the diamond jubilee year of IMPC. The President of the 2012 IMPC, Dr. Pradip, then passed the baton on to Prof. Juan Yianatos, of Santa Maria University, Chile, the President of the 2014 IMPC, which will be organised by Gecamin, and the Universities of Chile, Concepcion and Santa Maria.

The Proceedings of the congress was issued to all delegates on memory stick, and I am hoping to hear whether this is generally available, for the purpose of citation of papers in journal articles. The sessions on Human Resources is to be published as a monograph, and more information on this will be published on MEI Online when available.

On behalf of MEI I would like to thank Dr. Pradip and Prof. B.K. Mishra, the Chairman of the Organising Committee, and their team for all their work in bringing the IMPC to India. Organisation of an event as big as this is a monumental task, and it is inevitable that there will be flaws and frustrations. Nevertheless this has been an interesting and productive week, and MEI is immensely proud to have been associated with the congress as a media sponsor. We have enjoyed our week at the IMPC and invite the comments of all those who attended. How was it for you?

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Lifetime Achievement Award to Prakash Kapur

The IMPC’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented this evening to Professor Prakash C. Kapur (pictured left with IMPC Council Chairman Cyril O'Connor). During a long career Professor Kapur has been involved in many areas of mineral processing. He made pioneering contributions to pelletisation, and has developed equations for grinding kinetics in tumbling mills and high pressure grinding rolls. He has made contributions to the modeling of flotation circuits and to the rheology of concentrated mineral suspensions. He also developed filters for removal of arsenic and fluorides in order to produce potable water.

His work has been recognized by many organizations. He is Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Engineering, NAE (USA), Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Academy of Engineering. He has published more than 150 papers and has 14 patents

Prakash C. Kapur was born in Lahore, Punjab. India on 3rd July 1935. He has a BSc in physics and chemistry from Bombay University (1953), and an MSc in chemistry from the same university. He has MS, 1964 and PhD, 1968 in metallurgy and materials science from the University of California, Berkeley, where his supervisor was Professor Douglas W. Fuerstenau. His main academic career was with the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, from 1969 to 1996. He was a visiting professor at Berkeley in 1980, 1996 and 1991 – 93, at the University of Melbourne in 1993 and 1994, West Virginia University in 1995 and at the University of Florida, Gainesville in 1996. From 1996 – 2008 he was consulting technical advisor for Tata Research Development & Design Centre in Pune.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

IMPC Registration day

Another very hot day in Delhi. After a sleepless night at the Samrat, due to a thumping disco into the early hours, we strolled over to the Ashok to register for the conference.

In the evening a very enjoyable welcome reception at the Ashok, where we caught up with many old friends and met new and interesting people. Look out for photos on MEI Online and the blog after the conference.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

First day in Delhi

Amanda, Jon and I arrived in New Delhi this morning and we are staying at the Samrat Hotel, adjoining the IMPC hotel, the Ashok.

After settling in we had a brief look at the city, the second most populous metropolis in India, with around 17 million inhabitants, and well known for its wide tree-lined boulevards.

India Gate is the National Monument of India. Built in 1931 it commemorates the 90,000 soldiers of the Indian Army who lost their lives fighting for the British Raj in the Great War.

Tomorrow is registration day, and we will be setting up our booth ready for the official opening on Monday.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The dilemma- IMPC or MINExpo?

Amanda, Jon and I are leaving for Heathrow this morning, and then on to New Delhi for the IMPC, which starts on Monday.

An exhibit at MINExpo '04
But so does MINExpo '12, one of the world's biggest mining exhibitions, held in Las Vegas. Although MINExpo is essentially a mining exhibition, it is attended by many of the world's mining companies and equipment manufacturers, many of whom have had to make a decision as to whether to travel to Las Vegas or New Delhi, so it will be interesting to see how this unfortunate clash will affect the IMPC exhibition next week.

Among the companies who will be represented at both events is FLSmidth, sponsor of a number of upcoming MEI Conferences. At MINExpo a team of experts will be speaking at the FLSmidth exhibition booth on topics ranging from filtration to milling to automation. The presentations will focus on solutions and technologies to make mining operations more efficient.

I will putting regular short updates on the IMPC on Twitter (which is also fed to the right hand column of the blog), and, if time and internet speed allow, also onto the blog.

If you are attending the IMPC, call in and see us at booth #2030. If you are at MINExpo, let us know how it goes.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

What is the atmosphere like at the 5th Platinum Conference?

Although the price of platinum has been rising over the past month, and is now close to its peak of 12 months ago, the last few weeks have been turbulent times for the metal, particularly in South Africa, the world’s largest producer.

As the five-week bitter strike at Lonmin’s Marikana mine continues, the company has announced that it has stripped its top executives of part of their long-term bonuses. Anglo American suspended production at its mines near Marikana last week due to what it described as violent intimidation of its workers, but it expects to resume operations today.

Ironically, today is also the start of the SAIMM’s 5th Platinum conference at Sun City, with the theme ‘a catalyst for change’. It would be interesting to hear the views of those who are attending, particularly the reaction to this morning’s keynote lectures “Platinum- an industry of challenge and opportunity” and particularly the very topical “Leadership will be the difference between good and bad change”.

From the MEI Archives #21: Indian School of Mines, 1989

One of the great pleasures of travelling to international conferences is the surprise meetings with friends and colleagues from the past.

In 1989 I spent some time at the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad (see also blog of 3rd December 2011) as a guest of Prof. T.C. Rao, who was then head of minerals engineering.

I am hoping to catch up with Prof. Rao at next week's IMPC in New Delhi, where he is scheduled to present a plenary lecture. It would also be great to meet up with any of the staff and students who were at ISM during my visit 23 years ago.

The photos below will bring back memories of that interesting two weeks. Can anyone fill in the gaps with names, and where are they now?

With Indian School of Mines staff, Dhanbad
Weekend break at Maithon
With TC Rao (centre) at ISM

Sunday, 16 September 2012

An interview with FLSmidth's Wolfgang Baum

Process Mineralogy '12 is fast approaching and is set to be a major event, with eight corporate sponsors. One of those sponsors is the USA company FLSmidth, whose Dr. Wolfgang Baum will be presenting a keynote lecture at the conference.

FLSmidth opened a new Minerals Testing Centre in Salt Lake City in March, and in the September 2012 issue of Mining Magazine (pps. 166-168), Dr. Baum, who is director of the Ore Characterisation and Process Mineralogy Labs., explains why his team is the first port of call for mines looking to optimise their processes and troubleshoot existing circuits. Several of FLSmidth's competitors have mineral testing and processing centres, but Dr. Baum felt that the professional experience, staffing and equipment make the FLSmidth labs a unique flagship facility that is an industry leader.

It will be interesting to hear the views of conference delegates on this in November.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

New Comments Alert

There are new comments added to the following blog postings since the last comments alert:

Is this scientific suicide?
Return to Chingola
Return to Nchanga, Zambia's greatest mine
Flotation of chalcocite at very low pH
The IMPC is only 4 weeks away
Modeling and simulation of mineral processing systems
Chinese translation of Mineral Processing Technology

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Chinese translation of Mineral Processing Technology

We had welcome visitors today, Prof. Tim Napier-Munn and his wife Georgie, who are on a 2-month 'Grand Tour' of Europe.

It was an opportune time for Tim to call into Falmouth, as last night I received a surprise package by courier- the Chinese translation of the 7th edition of Mineral Processing Technology. The English version was published in 2006, edited by Tim, who was then Director of Australia's JKMRC, his staff, and me.

I had no idea that the book was being translated, and the Chinese edition is published by Metallurgical Industry Press, ISBN 978-7-5024-5437-1, and comes 25 years after the first foreign translation, of the 1st edition, into Spanish in 1987.

It was great to see Tim and Georgie, and to lunch with them at Falmouth's excellent The Cove Restaurant.