Friday, 7 September 2018

Norman Lotter's personal view of Extraction 2018

Dr. Norman Lotter, President and Consulting Engineer for Flowsheets Metallurgical Consulting Inc., Canada, has asked me to share his personal experience of Extraction 2018, which was held in Ottawa last month as a joint venture between the SME, MetSoc and the CIM. A total of some 700 delegates attended, many from overseas.
Ronel and Tarun
"This was the first presentation of this conference, covering mineral processing (particularly flotation), hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy.  Each theme had been organised by visible professionals in their respective fields.  Dr. Ronel Kappes, Newmont, and Tarun Bhambhani, Solvay, were the flotation theme organisers and chairs.  This flotation session ran for two full days, and turned out to be the highest quality flotation session that I have seen in North America in many, many years. 
Many of the papers were presented by invitation, as were my two.  Together with Tim Napier-Munn, I presented some thoughts on The Value of Incremental Performance Gains - How to Secure and Quantify Small Gains, and my last paper with Dee (Bradshaw), The Formulation and Use of Mixed Collectors - Valuable Performance Gains, two themes that complemented each other rather well.
In the first paper, Tim and I set out the stage making the case that single large performance gains are really made up of lots of small ones, performed separately in a continuous improvement programme. The level of noise in the plant data emanating from a concentrator is the challenge, but this is easily dealt with by designed plant trials using the analysis of variance with on-off testing, and using the 95% confidence limit as the hurdle rate. 
In the second paper, Dee and I made the case for the next platform of mixed collector work, now including semiconductor theory and organic chemistry.  This new platform is by now about six years old, and is doing well with new and different solutions, cutting  down the length of empirical flotation testwork because we now have the fundamental information from the mineralogy and the semiconductors, thus the collector chemistry is relatively easy to work out (provided that one of the researchers is well-grounded in that field - for my part I studied organic for three years).  We presented some case studies demonstrating how this had worked. 
Of course it was a difficult paper for me because of Dee's very sad passing, but the last slide showed a portrait of her against the backdrop of Table Mountain, acknowledging her in memoriam.  So many of us in mineral processing were touched by her bubbly and social enthusiasm, as well as her excellent research and influence on students as they grew towards their potential".

There are more views on the conference at #Extraction2018


  1. Barry,
    You mentioned that " Tim and I set out the stage making the case that single large performance gains are really made up of lots of small ones, performed separately in a continuous improvement programme " is very true and many mineral engns working in operating plants do not do this. We did many like that in India for example, a small change in the cyclone underflow, a small change in the percent solids going to the ball mill feed:; just adding a small quantity of different size balls in a operating ball mill-- and I can go on on on. These changed brought big gains . Some of these were published in some Journals. I touched on some of these in the talk I gave at J.K last year and I was happy that Tim took time off and attende that Seminar.
    I fully agree that an operating plant is a good "playing ground" to show innovation by an operating mineral engn.

  2. A more comprehensive report from A. Deniz Bas can be found on LinkedIn


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