Monday, 19 May 2014

Looking to Comminution '16

By all accounts Comminution '14 was an exceptional conference, as giant strides are being made in the evolution of this important area of the industry.

So, although 2 years away, we look forward with anticipation to Comminution '16. Much of the equipment we already have has much potential for further development. The cone crusher has been around for a very long time, but the design is now being re-tuned, HPGRs have enormous potential, particularly in how HPGR circuits can be configured and controlled. Stirred mills will undoubtedly play an increasing role, not only for their present role as ultrafine grinding machines, but increasingly taking over the role of tumbling mills, as the coarse product size range is extended.

Many of the papers at Comminution 14 touched on energy, clearly a very hot topic and much must be done here by the researchers and operators getting together. Modelling of all aspects of comminution is also now highly developed and can now be effectively used in the design of plants.

The only real criticism of Comminution '14, which reflects on comminution in general, as well as other areas of mineral processing, was the need for more operator interaction. It is the operators who will see the benefits of the latest innovations in equipment and models, so they must get more involved with the researchers if these benefits are to come to fruition. I realise that conferences are often seen as an expensive luxury for operators, and there is little incentive to prepare papers or posters, but there is much to be gained from their attendance. As Clifford Mutehve, of Anglo American Platinum, Zimbabwe, observed "It [Comminution '14] not only enhanced my knowledge but also helped me identify solutions to the milling circuit I manage. Some of the discussions we had, we have carried them forward as part of the business process improvements. I also managed to identify with a huge pool of knowledgeable people from across the world. I could not imagine communicating daily and interacting with people from SA, USA, France, Iran, China, Australia and various other countries. Some have become my friends, importantly."

We will therefore be making every effort to attract plant operators to Comminution '16. Acknowledging that preparing a poster or a paper might not be an option from someone for industry, one possibility is that we may have a session devoted to Innovations in Plant Operations, where operators can present short talks on their operations with accompanying papers not being mandatory. It would be great to hear operators presenting case studies on the operation and design of equipment and circuits, and the validation of the advanced models which are now available.

There is already much early interest in Comminution '16, with some companies already giving their support, and it is particularly good to have our first ever Industry Advocate, the Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution (CEEC).

Regular updates on the conference will be posted on Twitter (@barrywills and #Comminution16).


  1. Barry I recall the same issue being raised at the 2012 conference, and you are right to identify the conference program as the key influence on the audience demographics. If you target the right presentations (speakers, operations) you will attract the people you want. i thought you did a good job this year attracting top speakers, in particular your keynotes, and it was to my regret that a late change in plans prevented my attendance as i thought you had a good program together. on paper at leats it looked an improvement on 2012. You might also consider setting up some organised visits to operating sites in the area and some poeple i am sure would be interested in the opportunity to visit UCT or similar facilities also. getting a chance to visit an operation that you would not otherwise get to tends to be a good selling point for operations people to attend an event.
    Aidan Giblett

    1. Hi Aidan. Many thanks, I really appreciate your views and hope that you and others from Newmont will be in Cape Town in 2016. As you know UCT is virtually within walking distance of the Vineyard Hotel, and staff members there have always been very good in showing delegates around their excellent facilities, not only for comminution, but also for flotation and process mineralogy.

      Site visits not so easy however, as there is nothing in the Cape Town area. I know that many delegates do use the conference as a stepping stone to Joburg and the Gauteng mines, and this might be your best option, rather than endure the long health and safety inductions which are necessary these days for organised groups.


If you have difficulty posting a comment, please email the comment to and I will submit on your behalf