Wednesday, 31 October 2018

MEI Online Update #428

Hello Everyone,
Here at MEI, we're gearing up to travel to Cape Town for Process Mineralogy '18 and Hi-Tech Metals '18. Both events take place at the wonderful Vineyard Hotel, with Process Mineralogy taking place at the start of the week (Nov. 19-21) and followed straight after by Hi-Tech Metals (Nov. 22-23). Process Mineralogy features an exhibition, and we have 2 booths left if you're interested, just contact Jon for details.
Of course, we haven't forgotten about our other upcoming events, and I'm very pleased to announce that we have some new sponsors join us. TOMRA Sorting Solutions have agreed to support Physical Separation '19 for the 4th time, whilst Outotec are sponsoring it for the first time - after showing their support previously as sponsors for many of our other events. Then later in the year, we have Flotation '19. Kemtec are the 13th sponsor of this event, having sponsored once before in 2017.
Looking ahead to 2020, ME Elecmetal are sponsoring Comminution '20 for the first time, although with 18 months still to go before the event, they are already the 9th sponsor! It looks like Comminution '20 is on course to be as popular as ever.
As mentioned in the last newsletter, we are trying to build our subscriber list back up. If you wish to be added to the list for future newsletters, please let me know.
Process Mineralogy '18

Analytical Techniques & Applied Mineralogy
* Technical Programme: Process Mineralogy '18
* Register Now: Process Mineralogy '18
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Minerals Engineering Vol.125

Analytical Techniques & Applied Mineralogy is sponsored by FEI

* First Announcement: Biomining '20
* The Environmental Applications of Biotechnology in Mining
* Recently Refereed Publication:
Minerals Engineering Vol.126

* First Announcement: Comminution '20
* Peak Performance from Metso's new Superior MKIII Primary Gyratory Crusher
* Metso to Deliver Comminution and Material Handling Solutions to Australia and South America
* Conference Announcement: ESCC 2019
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Minerals Engineering Vol.125
Powder Technology Vol.337

Comminution is sponsored by Russell Mineral Equipment

Computer Applications
* Call for Papers: Computational Modelling '19
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Powder Technology Vol.338
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Minerals Engineering Vol.125
Powder Technology Vol.337

Environmental Issues
* First Announcement: Sustainable Minerals '20
* Technical Programme: Hi-Tech Metals '18
* Register Now: Hi-Tech Metals '18
* Conference Announcement: The 9th International Conference on Sustainable Development in the Minerals Industry
* The Environmental Applications of Biotechnology in Mining
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Separation and Purification Technology Vol.206
Minerals Engineering Vol.125

Froth Flotation
* First Announcement: Flotation '19
* World’s Largest Flotation Cells Improve Copper and Molybdenum Recovery in Mexico
* Are Conditioning Tanks Making A Comeback?
* Commencement of Flotation Commissioning at the Hellyer Polymetallic Project, Tasmania
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Powder Technology Vol.338
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Separation and Purification Technology Vol.206
Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects Vol.555
Chemical Engineering Journal Vol.351
Minerals Engineering Vol.125

Froth Flotation is sponsored by FLSmidth

General Minerals Engineering
* Technical Programme: Hi-Tech Metals '18
* Register Now: Hi-Tech Metals '18
* Conference Announcement: MetPlant 2019
* Conference Announcement: IMPC 2020
* Conference Announcement: COM 2019
* Conference Report: 2nd Young Nonferrous Metals Scientists & Engineers Forum
* High Capacity Microwave Treatment of Ores may be Closer than we Thought
* CIM Awards - Call for Nominations
* Eriez Europe Expands With New Manufacturing Facility
* ArcelorMittal Mining Canada G.P. to Fund Major Mining Research Collaboration at McGill University
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Minerals Engineering Vol.125

Gravity Concentration
* Call for Papers: Physical Separation '19
* Tempo Mineral Processing Offers DMS Cyclone Refurbishment Service
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Minerals Engineering Vol.125

* First Announcement: Biomining '20
* The Environmental Applications of Biotechnology in Mining
* Lithium Ion Exchange Provides a New Source for Battery Materials
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Chemical Engineering Journal Vol.354
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Separation and Purification Technology Vol.207
Minerals Engineering Vol.125
Chemical Engineering Science
Journal of Cleaner Production Vol.197

Magnetic/Electrical Separation
* Call for Papers: Physical Separation '19
* Innord Approved for Conditional Funding from the National Research Council of Canada
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Minerals Engineering Vol.125

Materials Handling
* Recently Refereed Publication:
Powder Technology Vol.338

* RNC's Innovative Roasting Approach Delivers 25% Increase In Payable Nickel Value For Nickel Sulphide Concentrates

* AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals is now Nouryon
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Powder Technology Vol.338
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Separation and Purification Technology Vol.207
Minerals Engineering Vol.125

Reagents is sponsored by Axis House

Sizing, Classification & Sorting
* Call for Papers: Physical Separation '19
* TOMRA Enhances X-TRACT with Dual Processing Technology, Multi-Density Channels, and Application Packages
* Large New TOMRA X-ray Sorter
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Powder Technology Vol.338
Minerals Engineering Vol.126
Separation and Purification Technology Vol.206

Solid-Liquid Separation
* Call for Papers: Physical Separation '19

Solid-Liquid Separation is sponsored by FLSmidth

Plant Operations
* Investment in Leaching Plant at Boliden Rönnskär
* World’s Largest Flotation Cells Improve Copper and Molybdenum Recovery in Mexico
* First Aachen Shear Reactor for Turkey
* BacTech Attracts Ecuador Partner for Ponce Enriquez Project
* Mineworx Provides Update on E-Waste Concentration Plant
* Multotec Samplers Give Real-Time Results at Gamsberg
* Metso to Deliver Beneficiation Solutions for Potash Industry in Belarus
* China's Western Mining to Launch Qinghai Copper Smelter Next Month

Plant Operations News Australasia is sponsored by Magotteaux

Plant Operations News Europe is sponsored by Holman-Wilfley

People News
* Prof. Yuehua Hu Elected to Editorial Advisory Board of Minerals Engineering
* Prof. TC Rao Honoured as the “Father of Indian Minerals Engineering”
* Leagold Appoints Attie Roux as Chief Operating Officer
* A Brief but Enlightening Visit to China's Central South University
* 2018 CEEC Medal Winners Recognised At AusIMM Conference
* MEI's Barry Wills Appointed Honorary Professor of Central South University, China
* New Vice President of Technical Services for Canada’s Hudbay Minerals
* New Gold Announces Appointment of President and CEO
* J. Burgess Winter 1933-2018
* Major IMPC Awards to Two Distinguished American Professors
* IMA Medal of Excellence in Mineralogical Services 2017 goes to Emil Makovicky
* John Van Nostrand Dorr joins the IM Technology Hall of Fame: Concentration

Join the Minerals Engineers LinkedIn Group

People News Australia is sponsored by JKMRC & JKTech

New items in:
* Calcium Carbonate - Refereed Publications
* Cobalt - Refereed Publications
* Copper - News
* Copper - Conference Announcements
* Copper - Refereed Publications
* Gold - News
* Gold - Refereed Publications
* Iron - Conference Announcements
* Iron - Refereed Publications
* Kaolin - Refereed Publications
* Lithium - News
* Lithium - Refereed Publications
* Manganese - Refereed Publications
* Nickel - News
* Nickel - Refereed Publications
* Platinum Group Metals - Refereed Publications
* Potash - News
* Quartz - Refereed Publications
* Rare Earths & Thorium - News
* Rare Earths & Thorium - Refereed Publications
* Titanium - Refereed Publications
* Tungsten - Refereed Publications
* Vanadium - Refereed Publications
* Zinc - Refereed Publications

Minerals Engineering Conferences
* Technical Programme: Process Mineralogy '18
* Register Now: Process Mineralogy '18
* Technical Programme: Hi-Tech Metals '18
* Register Now: Hi-Tech Metals '18
* Call for Papers: Computational Modelling '19
* Call for Papers: Physical Separation '19
* First Announcement: Flotation '19
* First Announcement: Comminution '20
* First Announcement: Biomining '20
* First Announcement: Sustainable Minerals '20

Monday, 29 October 2018

High capacity microwave treatment of ores may be closer than previously thought

For almost 40 years engineers have explored opportunities for using microwave energy to improve the efficiency of mineral and metallurgical processes.  Given the vast energy consumption of such processes this is not a surprise  as microwave heating has long been assumed to reduce energy consumption in process engineering unit operations.  Selective heating of microwave-absorbent sulphides and metal oxides deported in a microwave-transparent gangue matrix results in differential thermal expansion of the heated phase, yielding micro-fracture around grain margins. Subsequent downstream processing may then yield higher recovery of valuable mineral sulphides and/or lower specific comminution energy, compared to non-microwave treated ore.
But while the mechanistic principles are well established, the scientific and engineering challenges of developing a commercial scale system have been immense. Typical throughputs of a large copper mine can be in excess of 5000 tph of milled ore and a microwave based treatment system would need to handle equivalent throughputs. This is at least an order of magnitude higher than any other microwave process ever built.
Last year (posting of 1st June 2017) I reported on two important papers, published in Minerals Engineering, describing how workers from the University of Nottingham, UK, and Jenike & Johanson, USA, had detailed the design, commissioning and operation of a system which was the culmination of over fifteen years of research and development activity. This resulted in a pilot-scale high power microwave treatment process, capable of operating continuously at throughputs of up to 150 tph, but crucially scaleable up to several thousand tonnes per hour.
More recent work has shown for the first time that microwave technology can be used in commercial mineral processing plants and that it can be used at significant scale with several of the largest microwave processing plants ever built being applied.  A multidisciplinary team of engineers from the University of Nottingham and Teledyne e2v have been presented with this year's Colin Campbell Mitchell Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering for developing MicroHammer, a revolutionary process for extracting copper from its ore by exposing rocks to powerful microwave energy for a fraction of a second. The team, which includes Professor Sam Kingman and Dr Chris Dodds from the University of Nottingham and Dr Ewan Livingstone, Paul Burleigh and David English from Teledyne e2v, combined their skills in microwave technology and engineering to develop the largest microwave processing system ever constructed, capable of processing up to 3000 tonnes of ore per hour.
We are very fortunate to have the team leader, Prof. Sam Kingman, at Physical Separation '19 in Falmouth next year. He will present a keynote lecture "What's cooking in mining?" which will examine the steps required to scale up such processes, will discuss the importance of the team involved and will present a strong case for understanding the value proposition for the technology being developed at the earliest stages of the project and the use of this to drive the research direction. Prof. Kingman will draw conclusions as to the steps required to see this technology in daily use across our industry - a time which he feels may be sooner than some workers may have previously thought.
Sam Kingman is a Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Nottingham. He was awarded a personal chair at Nottingham in 2006, which at the time made him the youngest full Engineering Professor in the UK. He was previously the Director of the National Centre for Industrial Microwave Processing (NCIMP) which was one of the largest activities of its type in the world. In the past 12 years, Professor Kingman has published over 175 refereed journal papers and he is an inventor of over 150 patents within 29 patent families in the field of industrial microwave processing. In 2008, the work of
Professor Kingman and his group was recognised through the award of The Engineer Technology and Innovation Prize for Environmental Technology and the Environmental Prize of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and in 2011 he was awarded the Bielby Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry, Society of Chemical Industries and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining for his work to reduce energy consumption in chemical processing. Other prestigious awards include the Institution of Chemical Engineers Energy Prize in 2012 for work in microwave processing of industrial minerals and the UK Medal for Excellence in Engineering (2001). Microwave processing research at Nottingham has also been recognised by the award of the 2009 Environmental prize by the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
The very latest updates on Physical Separation '19 can be found at #PhysicalSeparation19.
Twitter @barrywills

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Cornwall's greatest copper mine in the 'richest square mile on earth'

This fascinating 4 and a half mile walk begins at the tiny hamlet of Twelveheads, 6 miles from Falmouth, and takes you into the heart of the Gwennap Parish, the major copper producing area of Cornwall, which in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was said to be the richest square mile on earth. Intensively mined, it is estimated that there were over 3000 mine shafts in this area, although little evidence remains now, apart from a few capped shafts and a handful of derelict engine houses.
A capped mine shaft
Twelveheads lies in the Chacewater Parish, another great mining district, and gets its name from the battery of stamps, with twelve heads, which once worked in a dressing floor in the village.  It is also the location of the portal of the Great County Adit, that once drained all the mines in the locality.
Very clear directions for this short walk can be downloaded from the iWalk Cornwall website. The route takes you to the area worked by the Great Consolidated Mine (Consuls), the largest single producer of copper in Cornwall and the richest copper mine in the world in its heyday, and down to the Poldice Valley and the ruins of the arsenic workings at the Poldice Mine, before leading back to Twelveheads on the Coast to Coast Mining Trail.
In its lifetime Consuls produced over a million tonnes of copper ore and worked down to 538 m below the surface. In 1836 the mine employed 1730 men, 896 women and 597 children as young as the age of 8. Conditions were grim to say the least. The water in the mine was acidic and the air was often thick with blasting fumes. Some of the lower workings were extremely hot; the air temperature at the 294 fathom (538 m) level was recorded at 36°C, increasing to 42°C in places, and the water at  the bottom of one of the shafts reached 33.6°C, the men working in the lower levels using this to cool themselves! Drenched in sweat and exhausted at the end of a long shift, the men and boys then had to climb up to surface (or "grass") by ladders. What it must have been like to descend and ascend these ladders is detailed in the posting of 13th August 2015. The novelist William Beckford visited the area in 1787 and wrote "At every step one stumbles upon ladders that lead into utter darkness or funnels that exhale warm copperous vapours. All around these openings the ore is piled up in heaps ready for purchasers. I saw it drawn reeking out of the mine by the help of a machine called a whim put in motion by mules, which in their turn are stimulated by impish children hanging over the poor brutes and flogging them without respite. The dismal scene of whims, suffering mules and hillocks of cinders, extends for miles. Huge iron engines creaking and groaning, invented by Watt, and tall chimneys smoking and flaming, that seem to belong to Old Nicholas's abode, diversify the prospect. The miners who crawl out of the dark fissures are woeful figures in tattered garments with pickaxes on their shoulders, while the mine officials regale upon beef, pudding and brandy."
Consolidated Mines was formed in 1782 by the amalgamation of a number of neighbouring mines including Wheal Girl, West Wheal Virgin, Wheal Virgin, Wheal Maid, Wheal Fortune and Carharrack Mine. The underground workings of these mines were interconnected, and before the merger they had major problems with underground water. They were jointly running seven Newcomen engines to pump water from their workings into the Great County Adit but the engines had been struggling to keep the water levels down and were so expensive to run that all the mines closed in 1779.
The end of the 18th century was a difficult time for Cornish copper mines, as the vast quantity of ore that was being mined cheaply from Parys Mountain in Wales was flooding the market, and Consuls closed in about 1805. However the Parys Mountain ore was exhausted by about 1800, and the price of copper soon rose again but it was not until 1819 that mining entrepreneur John Taylor raised the capital to restart Consuls. The mine rapidly became profitable, but its problem with underground water continued, and between 1819 and 1840 over 60 miles of adits, stopes and shafts had been excavated, and the workings drained by 10 massive Boulton and Watt pumping engines lifting water into the County Adit. The only one of these mighty pumping engine houses still surviving is at Wheal Virgin, and it is one of the oldest surviving engine houses in Cornwall, dating back to 1826. Steam to drive the giant engine was provided by four Cornish boilers burning around 1500 tons of coal every year. It is worth the steep climb up to the ruined engine house, for the fine view of the mountains of old spoil heaps, where, due to the high arsenic content, there is very little vegetation.  The shaft of the Wheal Virgin pumping engine is open, and covered only by a metal grid. Drop a stone down to adit level about 120 m below, and the echo of the splash is bone-chilling!
The Wheal Virgin pumping engine house
Prominent in the lunar landscape of old dumps below is the Wheal Maid tailings lagoon. Between 1976 and 1978 Cornwall Tin and Mining Ltd disposed its mill tailings here from the nearby Mount Wellington tin mine, which closed in 1978 due to that great enemy- water. Billiton Minerals purchased the Mount Wellington mill in 1979 and until 1981 reprocessed the tailings and other dumps in the Carnon Valley, the tailings being pumped into a separate Wheal Maid dam upstream of the first. Mount Wellington finally ceased all operations in 1981.
The Wheal Maid tailings lagoon
The success of Consuls led the owners of the port at Portreath, from where ore was transported to the smelter in Wales, and coal brought back from the Welsh coalfields, to increase their charges, so in 1824 John Taylor built the Redruth and Chacewater Railway to transport the ore from this mine (and other ones nearby) to the port of Devoran. The two tramways now form the Coast to Coast Mining Trail from Portreath to Devoran, and on some of the paths the remains of the early horse-drawn tramway are still evident by the original granite setts that the tramroad used to run on, rather like early railway sleepers.
During its relatively short life, Consols was a phenomenally productive copper mine; between 1819 and 1858 it produced 442,493 tons of ore, the largest quantity from any single mine in Cornwall. By the 1850s it was clear that the copper mines in the west of Cornwall were becoming exhausted and this together with the start of foreign production, particularly from Chile, led to a spate of closures or further mergers to reduce running costs. Consolidated Mines ceased working in 1857. In the nearby Camborne-Redruth district, rich deposits of tin were found below the copper. In Gwennap no such deposits were found and when low prices caused the collapse of the copper market in the 1860s, many mines were forced to close or amalgamate.
Continuing the walk from the tailings lagoons and through the village of Crofthandy takes us to the ruins of the arsenic works of the Poldice Mine, described in detail in the posting of 4th October .
 From the Poldice Valley, the return to Twelveheads is an easy walk via the Coast to Coast Mining Trail.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Kemtec and ME Elecmetal: the latest companies to confirm sponsorship of MEI Conferences

We are pleased to welcome back Kemtec as a sponsor of Flotation '19. Kemtec is a relatively new Australian company, specialising in flotation reagents, who sponsored Flotation '17, their first involvement with an MEI Conference (posting of 18th February 2017).
ME Elecmetal is an American company which was represented for the first time at an MEI Conference earlier this year at Comminution '18. They were obviously impressed with the conference, as they are now one of the sponsors for Comminution '20.
There is a lot to be gained by sponsorship of an MEI Conference, so why not join the elite band of companies who are involved with our upcoming events:
From a presenter's perspective, it was a pleasure being able to provide a talk to an interested and engaged audience (at Flotation ’17). From a booth exhibitor's perspective, we had a constant influx of visitors which made the long trip (and expense) over to Cape Town that much more worthwhile. Nice to have such a conference dedicated solely to flotation with a strong technical program which  included plenty of networking time with old friends, new friends, colleagues, and perspective customers. Thanks again.
Jaisen Kohmuench, Managing Director, Eriez Australia
The MEI Flotation Conference is the Davos of the flotation industry. Whereas world leaders go to Switzerland, our customers come to Cape Town. For a small business, based in South Africa, this marketing opportunity is like platinum dust.
Nick Sessions, eDart, South Africa
Twitter @barrywills

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

An appreciation of Prof. TC Rao

I have received the following from Dr. Arabinda Bandyopadhyay, Chief Technologist at CDE Asia Limited, India.  He submitted as a comment to the posting of 17th October, but as the text is too long to publish as such, I post here as a worthy appreciation of Prof. TC Rao:

Dr. T.C. Rao has been the focal point, the fulcrum, around which the profession of Mineral Engineering has evolved in India since 1975. There have been stalwarts before him too but none had made development of the profession and people associated with it the focus of his life.
His accidental arrival in Indian School of Mines (ISM) around the mid 70’s of the last century set in motion a series of developments which catapulted India into the world stage as a nation with tremendous potential in mineral technology particularly in terms of trained man power. Indian mineral engineers are now spread all over the world and are being recognised for the brilliance. They are present in operation of plants from Africa to South America to Australia as also in Research & Development activity in Australia, USA & Canada. They are also in marketing of technology & equipment, in plant design, contract execution and to say in brief all the gamut of activities associated with mineral engineering. Earlier also they were there but were few & far between. And all this is essentially because of Dr. Rao.
From the beginning Dr. Rao has emphasized on people development. He had assembled a team around him at ISM to develop the department initially and then to expand to providing support to industry. It was a pan India team and the basic requirement was attitude and commitment. He did not confine himself to mere pedagogy and went around the country lecturing on mineral engineering & its relevance and giving training to operating people in all areas of mineral industry. Quietly & slowly he could make industry captains realise that this was a separate technology and has little to do with mining engineering. Perhaps the situation in India was also conducive to such ideas as the grades were falling and treatment was necessary to produce saleable ores. Thus he could establish the idea that mineral engineering was adding value to the efforts of mining engineers. His focus was always in the frontier areas of research and application of those in industrial practice. A very favourite slogan of Dr. Rao was the quote from the Chinese Philosopher Lao Tse, “Knowing it, to apply it”.
In the course of such training activity he spotted talents, suppressed in the drudgery of day to day operation of plants, and encouraged them to increase their qualification though special courses designed for operating executives. At his initiative these plant people started writing technical papers on critical plant issues some of which were published in national & international journals of repute and many could attend seminars abroad and present papers. Earlier the papers from industry were generally on plant practices. In fact I am personally one of the beneficiaries of these programs. While working at a copper mine in India I could complete my Master degree and Ph.D. from ISM and was immensely benefitted in later life. I also wrote a number of technical papers which were published in IMPC proceedings and also in Journal of Mineral Engineering. I was sponsored by my copper mining company in India to attend the XIVth IMPC, in Toronto, Canada to present my paper on two stage classification in a copper ore grinding circuit based on the work undertaken under guidance of Dr. Rao. Many other people also took advantage of this new opportunity and prospered
Enthused by these developments and also the appreciation in the country that Mineral engineering was acutely important for the industry Dr. Rao started a full-fledged Bachelor course on the subject in ISM. The ground work of awareness creation having already been done, there was no dearth of students and the industry started recruiting people only thus trained. Earlier the fashion was to recruit from any discipline and orient them to the requirements of a mineral dressing plant. It was only breeding discontent and in absence of understanding & training the plants never performed properly. Things are quite different now. Many of these people have now found placements abroad and are making the country proud. Dr.Rao invited famous teachers & researchers from all over the world to visit ISM and lecture the students and also placed many worthy students in reputed institutions abroad for further research. These interactions benefitted the boys immensely and their vision was enlarged to encompass the situation in other countries as well. Finally he worked hard at the placement of the graduates and for this his standing in the industry was extremely helpful.
He is council member of all most mineral related industry bodies such as Institution of Engineers, Indian Institute of Metals, Indian Institute of Mineral Engineers, Mining, Geological & Metallurgical Institute of India (MGMI), and in all forums he is the protagonist for the mineral engineering profession. He has made best efforts to recognise & award talent as well as streamline the functioning of some these institutes so that the students found adequate attention.
People building have been his motto and possibly he would have done this in whichever profession he was. He has assiduously worked to develop a network amongst the people in the profession and make his students, irrespective of their age, comfortable and successful. He has put all his energies in furthering the interest of mineral engineering through his students.
He is immensely adored all through the country and yet maintains a low profile and leads a very simple life devoid of any glamour.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Welcoming two new sponsors for Physical Separation '19: TOMRA and Outotec

We are pleased to announce that Outotec is to sponsor an MEI Physical Separation conference for the first time. The giant international company has regularly supported MEI Conferences, and is a current sponsor for next year's Flotation '19.
TOMRA Sorting Solutions is sponsoring the Physical Separation series for the 4th time. TOMRA, like our other ore sorting sponsor Steinert, is a world leader in automated ore sorting, a technology which is increasing in importance as a means of reducing energy and water requirements in mineral processing flowsheets (see also posting of 22nd July 2018). Only last month TOMRA announced the introduction of a large new X-ray sorter (MEI Online).
It is great to have these two important companies involved in Physical Separation '19 next year, but it was sad to hear last week that Wolf Minerals, who had agreed to sponsor the conference only a few weeks ago (posting of 1st October) has had to close its Drakelands tungsten-tin mine in Devon, and Wolf Minerals (UK) has ceased trading. So unfortunately there will be no post-conference tour of the mine at Hemerdon, as previously announced.
The latest updates on Physical Separation '19 can be found at #PhysicalSeparation19.
Current Physical Separation '19 sponsors
Twitter @barrywills

Friday, 19 October 2018

AusIMM Complex Orebodies 2018: Register Now

MEI are pleased to be media sponsors for the AusIMM's Complex Orebodies 2018 conference in Brisbane next month. The event will provide delegates with a clear understanding of the nature of complexities facing future orebodies, address complexity across the mining value chain and share practical solutions you can apply to your operation. Below is the latest information on the conference.

%%First name%%, see the full program and topics selected for this year.

AusIMM Conference


Hi Everyone,

We are excited to announce the Complex Orebodies conference program! Meet and network with industry peers from CSIRO, BHP, ALS Metallurgy, CRC Ore, Jaguar Mining, Glencore Technology and more.

Some of the program highlights include:
  • Complexity and finding a way to bridge the insight/wisdom of bean counters and story tellers
  • Complex Orebodies and future mineral supply
  • Pilar Gold Mine: Challenges to consider with a complex orebody in the Iron Quadrangle, Brazil
  • Complex Mineralogy but Higher Grade Than Many Ore Bodies
  • Putting the "GEO" back in front of GEOmetallurgy: Importance of early implementation of quantitative mineral system characterisation, classification and modelling

Gain insight from case studies of existing complex orebodies, analysis of the future technical, social, political and environmental landscapes as it affects mining and innovative extraction approaches.

Join us in Brisbane on 19-21 November 2018.

Drakelands Mine, the hot topic at the October Mining Sundowner

Another good turnout last night in Falmouth, for the last of this year's sundowners at the Chain Locker pub.
We were pleased to welcome Mark and Karen Wolle to their first sundowner. Mark graduated from Camborne School of Mines in 1978, and has his own company in South Wales, E3 Recycling Ltd, which recovers copper and precious metals from WEEE using mineral processing techniques. He has two shaking tables manufactured by Physical Separation '19 sponsor Holman-Wilfley Ltd, who also provided the shaking tables for Wolf Minerals' ill-fated Drakelands tungsten-tin mine just across the border in Devon.
With Mark Wolle and Holman-Wilfley's Dave Goldburn
The talk last night was dominated by tungsten. Last week I was in China, which has the largest reserves and production of tungsten in the world, with the country's annual tungsten production of 64,000 being equivalent to over 83% of the global production. Ironically while I was away, Drakelands, near Plymouth in Devon, was forced to close down. Only a month ago Wolf had agreed to sponsor Physical Separation '19 and to provide delegates with a mine visit (posting of 1st October), which unfortunately will now not happen.
The ill-fated mine lost £100 million in just three years because its processing plant failed to deal with the early difficult ore and the fall of global prices saddling Wolf Minerals (UK) with enormous debts.
There had been fears that Drakelands could close as early as 2016, and so when Wolf Minerals (UK) Ltd finally went into administration on October 10, it seemed like the inevitable conclusion to the venture.
Ironically, world wide tungsten prices had been rising in the 18 months before the mine closed, and recovery levels had improved as the processing plant began to deal with the deeper granitic rock, rather than the shallower fine-grained weathered deposits. There are hopes that the mine could be saved but it would need huge investment into a processing plant which has never hit targets. The open-pit operation might attract potential new operators as it has lots of valuable ore and infrastructure already in place. European tungsten mining firms could potentially take control of the mine, one of the largest tungsten reserves outside of China. There are tungsten mines in Austria, Portugal and Spain that might have a future interest in Drakelands.
Twitter @barrywills

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

ALTA 2019

MEI have long been media partners for the ALTA series of conferences, one of the world’s premier annual metallurgical events, now in its 24th year, and are pleased to be involved once again in 2019.

Please read on for the latest update from ALTA 2019...

ALTA 2019 is a world-class annual metallurgical conference now in its 24th year, and a leading platform for innovation.  The emphasis of the program is practical and the themes running through the conference are the various aspects of technology and project development.  We are pleased to partner with CSIRO Minerals for In Situ Recovery and Curtin Gold Technology Group for Gold-PM.  

Call for Papers
ALTA conferences are well-known for providing exceptional opportunities for the industry to share ideas, innovations, technologies and projects.
  • Presenters receive 50% off registration fees.
  • Sole consultant presenters receive 75% off registration fees.
  • Submit your abstract early to secure your place in the program. 

Conference Sessions
  • Nickel-Cobalt-Copper including Pressure Acid Leaching Forum & Panel
  • Uranium-REE including Developments in IX Forum & Panel
  • Gold-PM including Fit-for-Purpose Leaching Systems Forum & Panel
  • Lithium Processing including Novel Lithium Processes Forum & Panel
  • In Situ Recovery including Enhancing ISR Permeability Forum & Panel

Short Courses
  • Treatment of Nickel-Cobalt Laterites
  • Copper SX/EW Basic Principles and Detailed Plant Design
  • Heap Leaching & its Application to Copper, Gold, Uranium & Nickel Ores

Questions about the conference? FAQs
What do people say about ALTA? Testimonials
Read about ALTA 2018

Thank you to our Partners and Co-Sponsors

Free Metallurgical Library
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It's official: Prof TC Rao is the "Father of Indian Minerals Engineering"

I have known Prof. Tadimety Chakrapani (TC) Rao for almost 30 years, ever since, in his capacity as Head of the Department of Fuel and Mineral Engineering at the Indian School of Mines, he invited me to Dhanbad in 1989 to present a course of lectures. Even then I was aware of his reputation and of his early pioneering work on modelling, particularly of hydrocyclones, with Prof. Alban Lynch at the JKMRC in Australia.
In Dhanbad in 1989 with TC (centre) and P.R. Sinha
We have kept in touch since then and he was in Cornwall in 1991 for Reagents '91.
TC in Cornwall, 1991, with Dr. M. Prasad, Prof. Shouci Lu and Prof. T. Wakamatsu
Our last meeting was at the IMPC in New Delhi in 2012, where the chairman of his keynote lecture introduced him as "the Father of Indian Mineral Processing". In 2014 it was my privilege to interview him for the MEI Blog (posting of 16th July 2014).
New Delhi 2012
Now I am pleased to report that during the inaugural function of the XVII International Seminar on Mineral Processing Technology (MPT-2018) on 10th October 2018, Prof. Rao was conferred the honour of "Father of (Indian) Mineral Engineering". The citations read "In recognition and appreciation of immense contributions to the mineral and coal processing education, research and industry in an illustrious career spanning three decades, IIT(ISM) Dhanbad & IIME are honoured in conferring the award of “Father of (Indian) Mineral Engineering” on Professor Tadimety Chakrapani Rao".
Congratulations TC on behalf of us all at MEI.
Twitter @barrywills

Monday, 15 October 2018

A brief but enlightening visit to China's Central South University

Central South University (CSU) in Changsha, China, has around 55,000 students and 20,000 staff and is in the top 20 of 2800 universities in China. There are 38 universities in China with mineral processing departments, and CSU, which specialises in non-ferrous metals, is ranked number 1, and is the largest, with 110 staff, 1000 undergraduate students and 500 post grads. It was recently ranked number 2 in the world in the ShanghaiRanking's Global Rankings for 2018. Around 40% of the mineral processing graduates stay on for post-graduate work, and roughly 20% go into industry or to Institutes.

Despite its unwelcoming austere building and dreary corridors, the Department of Mineral Processing and Bioengineering has some outstanding staff and young researchers, performing cutting edge research in mainstream and innovative mineral processing. All but three are from China; Mohammed Kabashi graduated from the Omdurman Islamic University in Sudan, and came to Changsha a month ago as a lecturer in mineral processing and is researching for PhD on the processing of tailings. Happy Mulenga, a graduate of the Copperbelt University in Zambia, has been at CSU for one year on the MSc mineral processing course, and researching on new reagents for flotation with Prof. Wei Sun. Sultan Ahmed Khoso is a lecturer in the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology in Pakistan, and is at CSU working for a PhD on the flotation of sulphides.
With Happy, Sultan and Mohammed
I spent four days at CSU last week, having kindly been invited to present two short seminars, and to be honoured in a ceremony to confer on me Honorary Professorship of the University. The photo below was taken after the ceremony with some of the mineral processing researchers.  On my left is Prof. Tao Jiang, Dean of the School of Minerals Processing and Bioengineering, and on the right Prof. Xuehong Zhu, Vice-President of the University and QingLyu Liu, Deputy Head of the Human Resources Department. Previous mineral processing appointments to this position have been to Prof. Ponisseril Somasunduran of Colombia University, New York, Prof. Jan Miller, of the University of Utah, and Prof. Roe-Hoan Yoon, of Virginia Technical University, all three recipients of the IMPC Lifetime Achievement Award.
I spent some time talking to leading researchers and in all cases was immensely impressed by their dedication, enthusiasm and amazing work ethic- there doesn't appear to be much time for outside interests if you are a researcher at CSU!
The tireless Dr. Zhiyong Gao arranged and hosted every minute of my visit, including dining with me each day at lunch and dinner, and even spending time to show me the city of Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, with over 7 million inhabitants.
Dinner with Zhiyong..... the food district of the CSU Campus
The old city....
.....and the new
The EV revolution is happening in Changsha. All the ubiquitous scooters are electric,
and are very quiet, accounting for around 70% of the road traffic accidents in the city
Zhiyong is a fine ambassador for the department and CSU obviously recognises this, as he now represents the department overseas, his first outing being to the IMPC in Quebec two years ago. Last year he presented a paper at Flotation '17 in Cape Town, which was recently published in Minerals Engineering, his 7th to be published in this journal, and last month he was presenting at the IMPC in Moscow. He is an outstanding researcher in one of the main thrusts of the department, flotation chemistry, in the team led by Prof. Yuehua Hu, who I unfortunately missed as he was away in Beijing. Zhiyong's 2015 paper on scheelite flotation is the 6th highest cited paper ever in Minerals Engineering, a notable achievement that he must be proud of. I feel sure that he is a person destined for great things in our profession.
Dr. Haisheng Han and Dr. Yanhong Wang have both spent time at Australia's University of Queensland.
Haisheng and Yanhong
Haisheng is working on the design of new collectors and using mixtures of metal ions and collectors for the flotation of oxide minerals. New collectors for scheelite are now being used at the Shi-zhu yan mine, China's biggest polymetallic deposit, separating scheelite and wolframite from fluorite, calcite and other silicate minerals without the use of traditional sodium silicate depressant. As sodium silicate is also a dispersant, its absence also has great advantages in water treatment and circulation. He presented this work as a poster at Flotation '17. He is also working on the removal of arsenic and other heavy metals from mining and other wastes, but this work has not yet been published.
Yanhong Wang was awarded a PhD from the University of Queensland on the mitigating effects of clays on copper flotation, which was presented by poster at Flotation '15, and she was presented with the award for best poster at the conference. She continues with this work at CSU.
Yanhong, and Kaiqi Jiang, both then with University of Queensland, with me and Jim Finch
I had lunch with Prof. Zhao Zhongwei, who is Vice Dean of the School of Metallurgy and the Environment and works closely with the Mineral Processing Vice-Dean Prof. Wei Sun on the extraction of tungsten from mainly scheelite. China is the world's largest tungsten producer, and around 80% comes from scheelite. He is also carrying out very topical work on the recovery of lithium from brines using an electrochemical method which has very high selectivity of lithium from magnesium. The work has been published in Hydrometallurgy (Volumes 133 and 176) and a pilot operation on a salt lake is now underway in Tibet.
With Profs. Zhongwei and Sun
Over morning coffee in the common room, I spoke to three more dedicated researchers. There are many lithium deposits in China and Dr. Dong Fang Lu is working on the use of mixed anionic and cationic collectors for fine spodumene flotation, as well as fine particle capture in HGMS. He is also involved with modification and optimisation of two Australian inventions, the Jameson Cell, which is being modified for spodume flotation at high altitudes, and optimisation of the Reflux Classifier to preconcentrate antimony oxide tailings.
Dr. Jian Cao has only been at CSU since July and is openly delighted about his appointment. He is an organic chemist and he is working on the design, synthesis and application of flotation reagents, particularly for serpentine depression, and new activators as an alternative to copper sulphate in pentlandite flotation. He hopes to eventually build a library of flotation reagents, to include new collectors, activators and depressants. 
Prof. Zhiguo He talked with great enthusiasm of his work on the mining of acidophiles, and their role in bioleaching and heavy metal adsorption. He has interesting results which I would like to see him present at Biomining '20 in Falmouth.
With Dong Fang Lu, Jian Cao, Zhiguo He, and Zhyong Gao
Dr. Fen Jiao introduced me to her team of fine young researchers, all of whom would be a credit to CSU if presenting work at an MEI Conference. They are researching a diverse range of topics, including the flotation of scheelite at low temperatures, selective extraction of lithium from brines, the treatment of waste waters and the biggest challenge of all, recycling metals from printed circuit boards and the recovery of lithium from spent batteries.
Fen Jiao with her team Yunfan Wang, Jiaqi Xu, Xuehu Zhong, Jianhua Kang and Ye Zhang
CSU is a major force now in mineral processing research, and in recent years has hosted many leading researchers from overseas, including Profs. Roe-Hoan Yoon, Jan Miller, Cyril O'Connor, John Ralston and Jan Cilliers. The number of publications in international conferences and journals is increasing and my second seminar "how to get your paper published in Minerals Engineering" was at first sight appropriate as 95% of all papers submitted to the journal from China are rejected, compared with a worldwide rejection rate of 82%. However, I suspect that CSU contributes little to this extremely high figure. Naturally I stressed that presenting work at an MEI conference is a great aid to publication, as the conference itself provides the first peer-review of the work, and presenting before an international audience improves confidence in presenting in English. In this respect I suggested that maybe their internal research seminars could be in English, as well as written interim reports. I believe that China's first university to teach solely in English is the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen.
I would like to thank Zhiyong and the rest of the faculty staff for making me so welcome in Changsha and conferring on me their very special honour. If you are interested in collaboration on any of the projects mentioned, please contact Dr. Zhiyong Gao at who will pass your message on to the appropriate project leader.
All in all my visit has been a real eye-opener; I have visited countless universities and research institutes over the past decades, but I can honestly say that I have never met such an impressive team of young researchers and staff. I did not have time in my short stay to discuss undergraduate teaching, but as 40% of the post-graduates are from CSU, and teaching is only by faculty members of at least Associate Professor level, then they can't be doing many things wrong! I can say with complete confidence that CSU will play a major role in the future evolution of mineral processing.
A farewell photo with some of the young mineral processing post-graduates
Twitter @barrywills