Thursday, 22 November 2018

New Faces on the first day of Hi-Tech Metals '18

I opened the conference this morning, welcoming 31 delegates, representing 10 countries, half of whom had attended Process Mineralogy '18.
Although a small conference, it is good to welcome five new members from UK to the MEI fold and to the general world of mineral processing. We have never had a delegate from Coventry University, and now we have four, and all from the Research Centre for Sport, Exercise & Life Sciences, an area which would, at first sight, appear to be well outside our usual scope. However, the centre has recently received a 3 year Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Project (KTP) to develop bioleaching capabilities for the processing of waste from printed circuit boards (PCB's), of great relevance to this, subsequent Hi-Tech Metals, and other MEI conferences. With over 2 million tons of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) discarded every year in the UK, WEEE represents 5% of all municipal solid waste worldwide; this is nearly as much as plastic packaging but with major health risks including cancer and poisoning leading to multiple impairment. WEEE also constitutes a major economic challenge with considerable quantities of precious and rare metals being exported and lost to Asia for further processing. 
The Coventry project is in collaboration with Network 2 Supplies (N2S), a company based in Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk, whose aim is to attain zero waste technology, and we welcome CEO Jack Gomarsall to Cape Town. Jack is the father of fellow Director, Andy, a former England rugby union player.
N2S has a unique approach to IT recycling, using a refined process of dismantling each item to reduce cross contamination and ensure every element is recycled correctly. Currently the PCB waste is sent to Asia for incineration, but pilot experiments at Coventry are aimed at transferring this knowledge to build a pilot facility at the company site. The Coventry team have very diverse backgrounds, the project leader Derek Renshaw's specialism being endocrinology. Sebastien Farnaud, who was unfortunately indisposed due to illness, and John Graves are joint academic supervisors, with backgrounds in microbiology/enzyme function and electrochemistry/PCB manufacturing respectively, and Mahsa Baniasadi, the post-doctoral KTP Associate, is a chemical engineer.
Jack, Mahsa, John and Derek
Jens Gutzmer, of the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, Germany, is also attending his first MEI Conference, and this morning presented the keynote lecture "High technology metals: facts, fiction and recycling".
With Jens Gutzmer
Jens's keynote was followed by three presentations, from Australia, Germany and Belgium on metal recycling, an area which is going to be crucial in the quest for a circular economy, and one in which mineral processing will play a very important role, albeit one of its greatest challenges.
The rest of the day dealt with the processing of rare earth minerals, with presentations from Canada, Australia, France and South Africa, after which we enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine for the first of our garden sundowners.
Twitter @barrywills

1 comment:

  1. Good on you Barry--you are bringing multidisciplinary approach to solve some of the issues and I am sure this approach would lead to innovation in mineral engineering.


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