Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Process Mineralogy, then and now

During my time on the Nchanga Concentrator in the early 1970s it is hard to believe now that, despite the wide suite of copper minerals, there was not even an optical microscope in the metallurgical office. If the tailings assay was creeping up, the answer was to add a little more reagent to the head of flotation, with little thought that the high assay may have been due to poor grinding, or the presence of poorly floating minerals.

I have to pinch myself sometimes when I see some of the sophisticated instruments that are now available and which are being productively used by metallurgists worldwide. Some of these are currently being displayed at Process Mineralogy '14.

This morning I was chatting to Monica Kalichini from Kansanshi Mine, also in Zambia. She has been working with Gaynor Yorath and Megan Becker at the University of Cape Town on the characterisation of the Kansanshi mixed ore, using an FEI FEG QEMSCAN, to link fundamental mineralogy to flotation response, something sadly lacking during my Zambia days.

Kansanshi has purchased the new Zeiss Mineralogic Mining Automated Solution, pictured below, and is being trained by Igor Tonzetic of Zeiss. She hopes to present her work at Flotation '15 next year in Cape Town.

Gaynor Yorath, Megan Becker and Igor Tonzetic with
Monica Kalichini and the Zeiss Mineralogic

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