Monday, 17 July 2017

A Rising Star: Monica Kalichini

I first met Monica Shamvuse Kalichini at Comminution '12 in Cape Town, where she represented First Quantum Minerals' Kansanshi Mine, Zambia.  Since then she has impressed us at various MEI Conferences with her increasing confidence and professionalism.  At Flotation '13 she presented her first paper on behalf of First Quantum Minerals, while studying for her Masters in Engineering at the University of Cape Town.
Monica (front row centre) at Flotation '13 with other young scientists
who were presenting papers for the first time at an international conference
During her time at UCT her research focused on sulphidisation and flotation of non-sulphide copper minerals which exposed her to the importance of process mineralogy and its application in understanding flotation response, and at Process Mineralogy '14 she was back representing Kansanshi, working with conference sponsor Zeiss on the first site-based scanning electron microscope. 
Gaynor Yorath, Megan Becker and Igor Tonzetic with Monica and the Zeiss Mineralogic at Process Mineralogy '14
She worked at First Quantum Minerals' Kansanshi Mine for 6 years, but this year she was at Process Mineralogy '17 as a senior project metallurgist for Nevsun's Bisha mine in Eritrea. 
Monica with delegates at Process Mineralogy '17
Monica is 29 years old, and  obtained her Bachelors in Mineral Science from the University of Zambia (UNZA) in 2010 and her Masters in Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from the University of Cape Town in 2015.  She says that when she started her undergraduate studies at UNZA, she had no clue what mineral processing was.  "I just knew I was going to start my first year in Natural Sciences and find my way to chemistry (my favourite science)".  In her second semester, the School of Natural Science arranged for all the science based faculties to give a talk to the first year students on why they should pick a career in the disciplines they taught.  "That’s when I first encountered the one person that has inspired me the most academically and professionally- Professor Stephen Simukanga.  He talked about mining in general and focused on metallurgy and a fire just ignited in me.  I knew exactly how and where I wanted to apply myself- in mineral processing.  I have not looked back since".
Monica feels privileged to have been part of the team that launched the first site based Scanning Electron Microscope for process mineralogy while working at Kansanshi, the project allowing her to see first hand the financial value a mineral processing plant gains from routine mineralogy to drive continuous improvement projects.  It also gave her the opportunity "to meet some great people that are doing amazing work in this space at Zeiss, Petrolab and MinAssist".  She says that she thrives on seeing fundamental concepts we learn and write about applied in reality so "I was very happy to be able to present our findings from this at the Process Mineralogy ’17 conference". 
"My new role with Bisha mine has me working with a completely different type of deposit (VMS)", she said "and has exposed me to a different set of minerals- in particular, this is the first time I have worked on sphalerite.  The mineralogy and flotation chemistry here is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I look forward to all the projects that we are going to undertake. I’ve had to start reading my old chemistry text books again!"
Monica at Bisha with Andri Wiratama (Senior LOM Planner)
and Jason Harris (Senior Project Geologist) 
In the short term, Monica is focusing on a better understanding of flotation chemistry and linking this to mineralogy and eventually optimized reagent suites. She is also excited about starting her doctorate programme soon and to applying mineralogy to better understand, predict and mitigate the environmental impact of mining.  Her long term plan is full time research and teaching.
Although a dedicated young scientist, Monica has many outside interests. "I took up mountain biking late last year and although I still fall off my bike (often), I am enjoying it a lot" she says.  She also enjoys travelling and has committed to rediscovering the beauty that is Zambia, so has been touring it quite a bit recently.
Touring Zambia with her best friend Wakunoli Munalula,
 who is a Process Control Engineer at Kansanshi Mine
Monica is a true Rising Star and we expect to see and hear much more of her in the future.
Twitter @barrywills


  1. Congratulations Monica! Wishing you all the best.

  2. Inspiring. Congratulations Monica!

  3. Congrats Monica.
    Way to go indeed.
    You are making us proud.

  4. Monica,
    It is so nice to read about your professional goals and other interests. As a practical mineral engn I am happy that you are trying to relate mineralogy to flotation--it is the proper way so that practicing people will understand your language--surface chemistry and all that is confusing to a plant man.
    Barry, let me compliment you for the subtle but very refreshing way you have been encouraging the new generation mineral engns.
    Monica, I wish a glorious future.

  5. Keep the flag high Monica.

  6. Kobe Stanley Motswadi25 July 2017 at 04:21

    Congratulations Monica you have always been the paragon of human intelligence from a tender age.

  7. Great Work Monica... Congratulations ... The journey continues.


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