Monday, 13 March 2017

A Rising Star: Przemyslaw B. Kowalczuk

The 3rd person in our Rising Star series is a 34 years old Polish associate professor at the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Geoengineering, Mining and Geology, Wroclaw, Poland, who has impressed us when we have met him at several international conferences.
The professional career of Przemyslaw (Przem) Kowalczuk in mineral processing began when he met two outstanding Professors, Tomasz Chmielewski and Jan Drzymala from the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology.
Przem (2nd right) with Tomasz Chmielewski, Janusz Laskowski
and Jan Drzymala at IMPC 2014 in Santiago
Tomasz encouraged him to study hydrometallurgy, and then Jan mineral processing. During his master study Tomasz, who was his supervisor, was also leader of the BIOSHALE 6th Framework Programme project entitled Search for a sustainable way of exploiting, black shale ores using biotechnologies, and Przem participated in this, working on non-oxidative and atmospheric leaching of the shale fraction of the Kupferschiefer copper ore. In 2008, the project and his study ended and he started to look for a job.
“Luckily, I found that the group of Mineral Processing was hiring a laboratory technician” he says. He applied and during the interview Prof. Drzymala suggested he become his doctoral student. “I could not say no since it was a great honour to work for such a great scientist” said Przem. During his PhD study he worked on his thesis entitled Theoretical and experimental determination of the maximum size of floating particles in different devices as well as a number of other scientific activities.
In 2009 Oktay Sahbaz (now Professor at Dumlupinar University, Turkey) visited Wroclaw as an Erasmus student. “During his four-month stay in Poland we worked together on flotation and became friends (he still calls me ‘kanka’, which in Turkish means the best friend)”.
Przem with Prof. Jan Drzymala (3rd left) and Prof. Oktay Sahbaz (left)
and his family during a visit to Dumlupinar University in 2013
PhD graduation (2012) with parents,
and supervisor Prof. Jan Drzymala
In May 2012 Przem defended, with honours, his PhD thesis and then spent, first as an Erasmus student, and then as a research assistant, “an absolutely wonderful six months” in the scientific group of Prof. Hylke J. Glass at the Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter, where together with Shekwonyadu Iyakwari (now Professor at Nasarawa State University in Keffi, Nigeria), he dealt with research and analysis of Near Infrared Spectroscopy and Qemscan® of copper ores. When he returned to Wroclaw, his research focused on improving the theory of flotation of naturally hydrophobic surfaces. He says that “it would not be possible without the co-operation of my great professors and friends: Jan Drzymala from Wroclaw as well as Kazimierz Malysa and Jan Zawala from the Polish Academy of Science in Krakow. Up to the present, I have closely cooperated with all the mentioned great professors and scientists, whereby the quality of my professional life is still improving”.

Graduation of DSc (habilitation), October 2016.
With Prof. Tomasz Chmielewski, Ms. Paulina Pazik
his PhD student at University of Exeter),
and Mrs. Agata Barczak
I asked Przem what interesting things he has been doing lately. He said “during my research career I have been working on a number of scientific activities including mineral processing, hydrometallurgy and geometallurgy. Recently, I obtained my DSc (habilitation) in mining and geological engineering (specialization: minerals engineering, materials engineering, physicochemistry of surfaces). My academic accomplishment were presented based on a series of published papers (JCR) combined into an essay on Physicochemical aspects of flotation of naturally hydrophobic substances”.
He continued “my research work was also related to other aspects of mineral processing and hydrometallurgy. I was involved in several industrial projects conducted for KGHM Polska Miedz S.A. The projects dealt with, for instance, i) preflotation of copper ore using only frothers, ii) a possible use of the Jameson cell in copper ore flotation at KGHM (in collaboration with Prof. Oktay Sahbaz from Dumlupinar University in Turkey), iii) analyses of copper ore beneficiation results on the industrial scales. Together with Prof. Adem Tasdemir (Eskisehir Osmangazi University in Turkey) we developed a methodology for monitoring the copper ore beneficiation process at industrial scale (KGHM Polska Miedz S.A.)”.
He also took part in a hydrometallurgical project led by Prof. Tomasz Chmielewski. “We worked on the method for the hydrometallurgical processing of polymetallic raw materials mined by KGHM. The developed new technology has been patented and is ready to be implemented”. 
The Hydro Project group led by Prof. Tomasz Chmielewski (first right)
In collaboration with Hylke Glass’s research group from the Camborne School of Mines, he worked on recovery of cobalt from the Kupferschiefer copper ore, together with Tomasz Chmielewski, and a PhD student at the University of Exeter. The PhD is a part of a CoG3 - Cobalt: Geology, Geomicrobiology, Geometallurgy project led by Prof. Richard Herrington from the Natural History Museum in London. The main aim of the CoG3 project is to understand the natural behaviour and biogeochemistry of cobalt in order to develop and apply novel bioprocessing strategies for cobalt extraction, recovery and the synthesis of targeted products using an integrated multi-institute and multidisciplinary approach.
In 2016 “I had the great pleasure of organizing, as a vice-chairman, the International Mineral Engineering Conference MEC2016 with MEI as a media partner. It was a great opportunity to meet and host in Poland an excellent mineral engineering community from different countries. The MEC2016 conference proceedings were published in the E3S Web of Conferences journal in volume 8: Mineral Engineering Conference MEC2016 edited by myself and Prof. Jan Drzymala.” Przem is also the co-editor-in-chief of Physicochemical Problems of Mineral Processing journal.

MEC 2016 Group
At IMPC 2016 in Quebec: Top from the left: Adam Manka, Rene del Villar,
Inna Filippova, Janusz Laskowski, Marek Pawlik, Barbara Laskowska,
Jan Drzymala, Maria Holuszko, Jaroslaw Drelich,
Tamara Matveyeva, Przem, Lev Filippov
At IMPC 2014 in Santiago with Profs. Graeme Jameson, Jan Drzymala and Doug Fuerstenau
Przem tells me that beginning in March he will spend 2 years involved with the MarMine project led by Prof. Rolf Arne Kleiv at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He will be working as a post-doctoral fellow in mineral processing with a focus on processing of seafloor massive sulphide deposits.
He says that “in the long term I would like to have my own research group working on fundamental aspects of mineral processing, especially investigation and numerical dynamic modelling of the phenomena occurring in the solid/liquid/gas interfacial systems, as well as application of the findings in industrial settings to develop new more effective technologies of beneficiation of ores. I like mineral processing since there is still plenty to do. The sky is the limit!”
With so much going on I wondered what were his outside interests and he said “outside my busy professional life I do not have a great deal of time for other interests. However I like cycling, travelling and reading. Every year, together with my friends, I try to visit different places in Europe and other continents. My holidays, in the last three years, were spent traveling through most amazing and unforgettable places in Europe and North America. This year I plan to be closer to nature exploring Scandinavia and Alaska”.
Przem is obviously a young man dedicated to mineral processing. It has been a pleasure talking to him and I am sure we will hear much more of him in the future.
Twitter @barrywills


  1. This is a great idea to present to mineral processing society very active and promissing young scientics as role models for all of us.

  2. Good idea, Barry, that you are bringing out details of these future mineral engns; I am sure this will be a great source of information and inspiration for the budding mineral engineeres to network and exchange ideas.


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