Tuesday, 18 September 2018

How were your first two days at the Moscow IMPC?

The XXIX International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC) began on Monday at the Congress Center of World Trade Center Moscow, Russia. Although MEI was not represented, I have received a number of updates from various people, and I thank them for their input, and invite further comments.
Congress Chairman Valentin Chanturia and his wife Elena, with Maria Okhvat of
Congress Management Mako, and IMPC Council Chairman Cyril O'Connor and his wife Nanette
Although the Congress began on Monday, the exhibition opened on Sunday, and bizarrely closed Tuesday afternoon. Sunday started with a bus tour around Moscow, taking in Red Square and the Kremlin, the last stop being the exhibition centre. The exhibition is not very big, but there is a good range of suppliers, especially from Russia and Scandinavia. The reception consisted of a generous spread of wine and beer and finger food and entertainment, and was an opportunity for the suppliers to promote themselves.
Expo welcoming ceremony
Early updates on Monday were unfortunately not too positive, with reports of papers being rescheduled to other days, which is not good for people, particularly authors, who have planned their own agendas. One of Prof. Kristian Waters' students from McGill University had his paper moved from Thursday to Monday at the last minute, while his colleague was scheduled for the same presentation in two different time slots. Canada's John Starkey found that the paper he had submitted was dropped from the programme because the person doing the final programme could not find his manuscript write up! John managed to sort that out with the help of Arkady Senchenko of TOMS, but instead of speaking on the scheduled Tuesday, he will now present on Wednesday. 
However, later reports were more positive. Prof. Kevin Galvin, of University of Newcastle, Australia, said that things looked chaotic to begin with but once the conference settled down it worked quite well and everything "ran like clockwork". He said "the hotel/conference venue works. There are several key rooms close together and a couple a little further away - nothing too unusual. The WiFi is the best I have seen - the same code from your hotel room to the lobby to the conference venue - and it does not drop out. The big negative is that the exhibition is far removed from the activities of the delegates. We have the coffee, etc outside the conference rooms and the meals in the same area. I have not been back to the exhibition today".
The conference commenced in Russian with Chairman Prof. Valentin Chanturia, of the Russian Academy of Science, welcoming more than 800 delegates to Moscow, the first IMPC to take place in this city, and the second in Russia after 50 years, IMPC 1968 being held in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). IMPC Council Chairman Prof. Cyril O’Connor praised in his opening remarks the Russian mining industry and especially the great achievements of Russian Scientists. He highlighted especially the polymath Mikhail Lomonosov, the father of physical chemistry and chemist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, the founder of the periodic table of elements.
Congress opening session
The Opening Ceremony was followed by a Plenary Lecture by Prof. Nikolay Bortnikov of the Russian Academy of Science. He presented perspectives of modern seafloor hydrothermal systems and the sustainable exploitation of massive sulfide deposits, discussing critically whether these could be future mineral resources or whether there are unjustified expectations.

Kevin Galvin felt that "they could have done more with the keynotes - some were good, others terrible - one only lasted 10 minutes out of the allocated 25 minutes and I think this area lacked forward thinking. Jinrong Zhang (FIPR) gave a nice keynote on the challenges of concentrating rare earth elements, and Martin Rudolph (Helmholtz-Institut Freiberg) gave an excellent impromptu talk on the atomic force characterisation of hydrophobic minerals. Francisco Reves, of Imperial College, gave an interesting talk on resolving the 2D interpretation of surface liberation via their X-Ray Microtomography. There were a good few talks on iron ore from the Russians and Chinese, and a couple of talks on scheelite beneficiation, including rare earth minerals. There is a good mix of delegates, with a good range of research leaders, so I have certainly enjoyed my time so far".

After a coffee break and poster session the delegates had to choose from seven lecture halls where on this first day 86 papers were presented in 7 parallel sessions covering the whole areas of mineral processing and extractive metallurgy. Monday ended with a cultural celebration with food, drink, and dancing and the food was said to be excellent.

Tuesday was the final day of the Expo. It would appear that the IMPC in Quebec two years ago may have set a precedent for the exhibition to terminate half way through the Congress. I hope not, however, as the exhibition provides a focus for networking, and I hope this trend does not continue into the next Congress in Cape Town in 2020.
The Expo (photo Martin Rudolph)
At the main Congress, Kevin Galvin reported that fellow Australian "Prof. Robin Batterham gave an excellent plenary in the morning on the case for in-situ mining, pointing our that we are failing to discover new copper resources so will need to go deeper, coming to the conclusion that in-situ mining will, within the next 20 years, highly affect the field of mineral processing and replace processes such as flotation. Prof. Cyril O’Connor gave a nice talk on the application of Gibbs Excess as a parameter for describing hydrophobicity and hence contact angle. Prof. Janus Laskowski talked about flotation in sea water. So, many of the best talks came from those who have been significant contributors over past decades. We need some young people to come through for the future". In this respect it was great to hear that Dr. Pablo Brito-Parada, of Imperial College, UK, and one of the editors of Minerals Engineering was today elected to the IMPC Council. Well done Pablo!

It was also announced today that Australia will hold the IMPC in 2022 and USA in 2024, following Cape Town in 2020.

Many thanks to all those who have shared their experiences of the first two days in Moscow. I now invite all you others who are in Russia this week to also share your views on the Congress. The exhibition is now closed , and I would particularly like to know how you who have been exhibiting view the fact that the Expo was remote from the Congress, and that it all ended abruptly today.

Hopefully another update, on the final two days of IMPC later this week.

Twitter @barrywills


  1. A nice cultural reception with Russian dancers and music on Monday night. Much food and unlimited wine, vodka and beer! This (Tuesday) is the final day of the Exposition. It is about a kilometre walk each way. The shuttle bus that had been announced to run every 15 minutes only ran from early morning until 10:20. For the remainder of the day, there was only one bus at 5:20. A disappointment when you needed to get back for one of the sessions here in the hotel.

    'We' attended several papers this afternoon. Coffee breaks have been great--tasty Russian sweets accompanied with coffee, teas, water--both morning and afternoon. Lunch was pretty good again--two choices of good soup, beef goulash, rice, mashed potatoes and either broccoli or roasted veg.

    Disappointed that nothing is planned for tonight. I booked us for a night tour by bus of the city costing 12, 200 rubels. Yikes-no dinner! Starts at 6:45 to 11 pm.
    Donna Starkey, Starkey & Associates, Canada

  2. The trade show was a bit of a disaster, I walked around and saw people asleep on their stands. It was too far away from the conference. Closed too early and wasn’t set up to help the exhibitors. Some of the best conferences I’ve been to are where the exhibition is the primary mixing area that helps force interactions around posters, beer and nibbles. This wasn’t possible here and I would suspect the exhibition hall had very few numbers attending. I’m starting to see this a little too often where exhibitors aren’t valued or supported by the conference which make it harder and harder to justify the expense to attend and support.

    Sessions and quality of talks. Some have been fairly poor and I’m really questioning the peer review process. One talk in particular was pitched as a new way for gold geomet’ but was just basically someone just talking about some samples that they did XRD, qemscan, and reflected light analysis on. I sat through one talk this morning that lasted 8 minutes out of the allotted 20. In one session the chair didn’t show up. In another session the chair was double booked between giving his talk and chairing the session. We’ve had people taking phone calls in middle of people’s talks. Also the chairs will allow talks to run over and/or start early. So if you want to jump between sessions, you can arrive on time yet be half way through the talk. Session rooms are split into 2 groups where there is a 3 - 5 min walk between and therefore there is often a flood of late arrivals during the talk. Also some of the talks have been in the wrong sessions, this I suspect has been done to balance out the sessions. This is fine, but means you miss things that are relevant to you field or interests.

    Some positive notes, Greg Wilkies talk yesterday was really interesting and Yi Ran Zhang's keynote this morning on project economics of ore sorting and the different technologies was really good and very well delivered!

    Maybe I’m too critical as I attend a lot of conferences but I really would have expected better for an event like IMPC.

    1. As a fellow exhibitor I have to agree that the Expo was a disaster- really a non-event and we did very little, if any, business. To hold an exhibition a kilometre away from the conference is a recipe for disaster, and to terminate an exhibition after only two days, as in Quebec, also makes no sense. The organisers will probably say that the exhibition was 3 days, but if you are going to run 3 days at least make it 3 days in the congress period. What was the point of running on Sunday, when delegates were arriving and registering? An exhibition is meant to be a hub, where people meet and interact, and if the 2-day format is going to continue, then we won't be exhibiting at an IMPC again.

    2. Although the exhibition ended after two days this did not really matter, as it had been irrelevant for the previous two days. It would appear that the IMPC is basically for academics. If industry involvement is sought then, apart from industrial papers, a good integrated exhibition is also essential.

  3. At the IMPC General Body Meeting on Tuesday afternoon it was announced that Ralph Holmes, recently retired from Australia's CSIRO, is the IMPC President-elect, and will take over from Cyril O'Connor in two years time at the Cape Town IMPC. New members of the Council are Pablo Brito-Parada, Romke Kuyvenhoven, Han Long and Brij Moudgil. The IMPC in 2022 will be in Melbourne, and in 2024 in Washington DC.

    1. Nice to hear and Heartiest congratulations bro DR Ralph...
      One of the well known and versatile legend in the Mineral Engg fraternity.
      Also good luck and best wishes to the other council members....
      Rama Murthy

  4. Ralph, It is such a good news that you would be steering the IMPC to greater heights. Knowing you and your commitment to our profession, I am really happy and wish you and the other Members all the best

  5. Bary,
    I was going through the Blog,once again, and must say the most impartial and "the facts" you put so clearly have become landmarks and a Profession like Mineral Processing is fortunate to be having a person like you to make all of us feel what has been happening--even many may not attend.
    My compliments to you and your Team.

    1. Thanks TC, much appreciated, but the main thanks must go to those who provided me with their honest views on the IMPC


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