Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My year with MEI, in pictures

2013 has been another enjoyable year, catching up with old friends, meeting new contacts, and with a number of reunions with friends from the distant past.

In January, Barbara and I took the ferry across the River Fal to St. Mawes, to meet up with our old friends Terry and Pauline Veasey. Prior to his retirement, Terry was a popular lecturer at the University of Birmingham and one of the earliest members of the Minerals Engineering Editorial Board. Also in January Minerals Engineering celebrated its silver jubilee issue.

Another great reunion in February was with Bob and Jean Schofield. Bob had been my closest friend during our days at Leeds University, but we had completely lost touch after leaving Leeds, until Bob traced me via Google!  We met up for dinner at Heathrow Airport, and spent a few hours catching up on how are lives had treated us in the intervening 43 years.

Barbara and I were at Heathrow for the flight to Denver, taking us to the SME Annual Meeting, preceded with 9 days skiing in the Rockies at Breckenridge. It was unusually cold and windy in the mountains and Barbara's skiing was curtailed with a bad fall on the fourth day.


Arriving in Denver
Road conditions leaving Breckenridge were atrocious and we eventually arrived in Denver in the middle of a raging snowstorm.

Due to the weather and disruption of flights into Denver, the SME meeting got off to a relatively slow start, but on the next day the skies had cleared and people flocked into the convention centre to register for what turned out to be a record attendance of over 6800 delegates. Always a great meeting place, it was good to catch up with our old friends John and Donna Starkey, sponsors of Comminution '14, as well as many other MEI sponsors who had booths at the giant exhibition.

Barbara with Donna and John Starkey



The FLSmidth booth is always a landmark, and it was there that I met Randy Zahn, to congratulate him on becoming the second recipient of the MEI Young Person's Award, which I presented to him 4 months later at Physical Separation '13 in Falmouth.

The highlight of our year was in March, with the birth of our 3rd grandchild, Josephine, to Jon and his partner Kathryn Hadler, who is with the strong flotation research team at Imperial College.

Another reunion in May, this time with an old friend from our youth club days, who we had not seen for over 50 years! Like me Roy Jeffrey was a metallurgist who left for Zambia after graduation. He also worked at Nchanga, on the high grade leach plant, and then the tailings leach plant, leaving Zambia in 1990. It was good to have lunch with Roy and his wife Pam in Falmouth.

Over 100 delegates from 17 countries were in Falmouth in June for Computational Modelling '13 and Physical Separation '13. MEI's small Falmouth conferences are always something special, the coastal path walks to the 17th century Chain Locker pub being particularly enjoyable!

Computational Modelling delegates at 16th century Pendennis Castle
Welcome drinks at the Chain Locker in old Falmouth

Despite the heavy rain during the Physical Separation walk, we managed to eventually dry out in the pub, and enjoy a convivial evening with the Cornish Mining Sundowner regulars, who meet here every month.

A very wet coast path walk
Drying out at the Chain Locker
A highlight of the Physical Separation conference was a visit to the King Edward Mine Museum near Camborne, and then on to the nearby village of Carnkie to explore the ruins of the Basset Mines, the 'birthplace of modern mining'.
At King Edward Mine
At the Basset Mines, Carnkie
In July we moved to our new house (and MEI Office) at 1 Freeman Collins Drive,  with a sweeping panoramic view down the Falmouth Valley to Falmouth Bay. 

Also in July I attended The AusIMM's Metplant '13 in Perth, surely one of the world's most expensive cities! Here I caught up with another of my old Zambia colleagues, Paul Piercy, who I had not seen for 42 years, and briefly with Precious Metals '15 consultant Mike Adams, recently appointed as an editor of Hydrometallurgy, who called in with his son Jonathan who is a mineral processor in his final year at Murdoch University.

Paul Piercy with Karen Keet of Blue cube Systems
With Jonathan and Mike Adams
In early September Barbara and I were in Mpumalanga, South Africa for the SAIMM's Base Metals '13 conference. Held at White River, this was a fairly low-key event, due to the depressed state of the industry in South Africa, and was attended by around 130 delegates. Mpumalanga is one of the most beautiful areas of South Africa, and after the conference we spent some time exploring the historic gold mining towns of Pilgrim's Rest and Barberton.

Pilgrim's Rest
Returning to Heathrow, Barbara took the train back to Falmouth, while I flew out to Germany for the European Comminution Symposium in Braunschweig, a historic town which provided some interesting and enjoyable dinner venues.

Another great reunion in Falmouth in October, with Bob and Jean Schofield, who we had met up with at Heathrow in February, and Graham and Sheila Neate. We had all been together at Leeds University, and coincidentally we met up exactly 50 years after first meeting at Leeds in October 1963.
Reunion at the Basset Mines near Camborne
A week later I was in Chile for Procemin '13 in the lovely city of Santiago, venue for next year's IMPC. It was a great few days, the highlight for me being the visit to the El Teniente tailings treatment plant at Minera Valle Central, a truly fascinating operation.

While in Santiago, I enjoyed another reunion, this time with Roger Kelly, who I worked with at Nchanga, and who I had not seen since the early 70s. Another pleasant  evening was spent at a reception hosted in downtown Santiago by Australia's JKTech.

With Roger Kelley

At the JKTech reception
All the MEI team were in Cape Town in November for Flotation '13 at the Vineyard Hotel.

Dinner at the Vineyard with Elsevier's Dean Eastbury
This was our second biggest conference ever, and of the 257 delegates representing 28 countries, those pictured below had attended all 6 conferences in the series, since the first one in Adelaide in 2000. Left to right are me, Jim Finch, Barbara, Antonio Peres, Dee Bradshaw, Stephen Neethling, Dan Alexander, and Amanda.

It was particularly good to see Xuming Wang looking so well at the conference. He and his University of Utah colleague Jan Miller were seriously hurt in a car crash in Tibet in July, from which Jan is still slowly recovering.

With Xuming Wang
Xuming even took part in the first part of the hike up Table Mountain the day after the conference closure. Amanda and I led around 20 delegates to the summit via Platteklip Gorge, the oldest route up the mountain.

At the top of Platteklip Gorge
Amanda and Siva Jam on top of Table Mountain

It was then nice to relax for a few days at Camp's Bay before our return to the UK.
Barbara and Amanda at Camp's Bay
Two hours after returning home I was at nearby Camborne School of Mines, to hear Imperial College's Jan Cilliers present a fascinating lecture exploring the physics of flotation. Jan had also been at Flotation '13, and will be a keynote speaker at Flotation '15.

CSM with Kathryn Hadler, Nick Wilshaw, Frances Wall, Jan Cilliers, Steve Barber and Pat Foster
And then Christmas was rapidly approaching, with the two final events of 2013, the CSM Christmas lunch and the final Cornish Mining Sundowner.

The CSM Christmas Lunch

It has been another fascinating year, and all of us at MEI now look forward to 2014 and wish you all the very best for 2014.  Hope to catch up with you somewhere around the globe!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Memories of CSMA

We had a very pleasant lunch at Falmouth's Star & Garter pub today with Nick and Pauline Clarke.

Many of you will remember Nick from the mid-90s, when he was Director of Camborne School of Mines Associates (CSMA), which ran the early Minerals Engineering conferences in collaboration with the fledgling MEI, before MEI took over in 1999. Nick attended a few of the conferences, Minerals Engineering '96 in Brisbane, Complex Ores '97 in Bulawayo and Minerals Engineering '98 in Edinburgh.

With Nick Clarke in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, 1997
Nick (right) with Minerals Engineering '98 delegates at St. Andrew's Golf Club

It was good to be able to congratulate Nick on his award of CEO of the year, made earlier in the month  at the Mining Journal's Mines and Money Gala Dinner in London (photo left). Since becoming CEO of Central Asia Metals in 2009, he has overseen his company’s transition from explorer to producer, bringing the company’s flagship Kounrad copper mine into production in Kazakhstan in 2012.

Central Asia Metals (CAML) is the 60% owner and operator of a 10,000 t/year solvent extraction- electrowinning (SX-EW) copper recovery plant at the Kounrad mine site. This facility recovers copper from waste dumps that originate from the Kounrad open-pit copper mine, and is located near the city of Balkhash in central Kazakhstan. Sitting on the surface, the dumps accumulated from open-pit mining operations, carried out between 1936 and 2005. Over the decades during which these dumps were piled up, oxides and low-grade sulphides of copper formed a large part of the tonnage deposited on surface. Recovery of this copper is achieved by in-situ leaching followed by SX-EW.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Season's Greetings to our friends around the globe

The photo below was taken 30 years ago today, when MEI was not even a distant dream.
The family has grown considerably since then, and I look forward to us all getting together in a few hours time for Christmas dinner.
Let me take this opportunity of wishing you a great day, and best wishes from all of us for the New Year.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Cornish Mining Sundowner

There was a fairly small turnout last night for the final mining sundowner of the year. Among the 20 or so who joined us in Falmouth's Chain Locker pub were Dr. Klaas van der Wielen (1st left in photo below). Klaas will be in Cape Town in April, representing Swiss company SELFRAG, one of the sponsors of Comminution '14.  3rd left in the photo is mineralogist Steve Pendray, who has been in charge of thin-section preparation at CSM for the past 28 years.

Next to Jon are consultant biohydrometallurgists Dr. Chris Bryan and Dr. Dave Dew. After leaving CSM with a PhD in 1982, Dave made a name for himself in South Africa, but now lives in Cornwall and is an independent consultant. He will be at Biohydrometallurgy '14 in June, as will Chris, a CSM lecturer, who is one of MEI's three biohydrometallurgy consultants.

 It was also good to see Paul Burton, Managing Director of Piran Mining Research, who was in his final year at CSM when I joined in 1974, Also our old friend Bentley Orchard, a hydrocyclone specialist, who many people will know from his time at Richard Mozley Ltd.

It was also good to catch up with Al Cropp, one half of the MinAssist mineralogy team. Al runs the Cornwall office, the Australian end being run by Will Goodall.

With Paul Burton and Bentley Orchard

Tony Batchelor (centre) and Steve Barber

John & Mary Shepherd with Paul Burton and Nick Slade

Al Cropp (centre)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

A time to reflect on others less fortunate

Christmas is a time for thinking of those who are not as fortunate as ourselves, so we were very pleased to receive an email this morning from Lyn Jacobs, who is in charge of the Vineyard Hotel's excellent audio-visual facilities. Each year MEI makes a donation, on behalf of the conference delegates, to local children's charities.  Lyn has used the funds donated from all her clients to treat the children (mostly abandoned, abused, or HIV positive) of Lydia’s Safe House in Nomzamo (a township in Strand just outside Cape Town) to a day of fun. The Safe House also received gift vouchers from Shoprite.

 She has sent me these wonderful photos of the day:

Coincidentally, on the same day Amanda made a donation, on behalf of MEI, to her children's primary school, who are raising money to install solar panels. If any local businesses would like to contribute, please link on the logo below: