Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Recent comments

There have been comments on the following postings since the last update:

Flotation '19: the final day
Flotation '19: applications symposium Day 1
2018 MEI Award to Zhiyong Gao
Flotation '19: fundamentals symposium Day 1
Action needed to raise the profile of mining education
Is zero carbon by 2050 attainable?
Kimberley: South Africa's historic diamond city
Towards 2050: visions of the future
Flotation '19: final report
Are these WASET conferences just a scam?
A nostalgic journey through Matabeleland on the Rovos train
Travels in Peru
Death of Victor Bryant: a true hands-on mineral processor
Adventure in Tanzania, 40 years ago today
Return to Chingola

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Friday, 27 December 2019

2019 with MEI

It seems that at the beginning of every year I express optimism about a long-awaited revival of the mining industry. However, despite a promising start, base metal prices are now roughly the same as 12 months ago, although precious metals have faired a little better (see InfoMine).
It has been a good year for MEI, however, with record turn-outs at two of our well established conferences.
There was also a very healthy turn-out, of over 6600 delegates, in Denver in February for the Annual SME Meeting. Numbers were in no small way boosted by the associated symposium to celebrate the 90th birthday of Prof. Douglas Fuerstenau.
Unfortunately Prof. Fuerstenau was unable to attend last year's International Mineral Processing Congress in Moscow, where it was announced that he was the recipient of the IMPC's Distinguished Service Award (DSA). He thus became the first person in the history of the IMPC Congresses, which go back to London in 1952, to be awarded both the Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the DSA. The presentation of the DSA was made at the Denver meeting by the IMPC Chairman, Prof Cyril O'Connor and I was honoured to be invited to join Cyril and Doug for a photo of the only two living recipients of this Award.
Prof Fuerstenau and me, with IMPC President-Elect Ralph Holmes, and Cyril O'Connor
Following the SME, Barbara and I took a break hiking in one of the loveliest areas on earth, the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland, which I would highly recommend to any MEI Conference delegate planning to visit Europe after a Falmouth conference. 
There was also an excellent turn-out in April, of around 900 mining industry people, for the 26th International Mining Congress and Exhibition of Turkey (IMCET 2019), which was held about 40km from Antalya. MEI was pleased to be invited, as a media partner, to this, the 50th anniversary of the congress. Around 50 companies exhibited in the very clean and bright exhibition area, and it was good to see a number of familiar faces from around the world.
Barbara and me, with Guvan Onal and Diana Drinkwater
Pre-drinks at the spectacular gala dinner
In May, while Barbara and I were island hopping on the beautiful Dalmatian coast in Croatia, Amanda was hard at work in Perth, Australia for the annual ALTA conference. ALTA, like MEI, is a family run business, and it was good to see how well Amanda got on with Alan Taylor and his family.
Joan and Alan Taylor presenting Amanda with a gift

Amanda with Allison and Rebecca Taylor
We were a little nervous in June as we had a brand new venue for MEI Conferences. We needn't have been, as the National Maritime Museum proved to be a superb venue, and we had a record turnout for Physical Separation '19, the sixth in this popular series. This was preceded by Computational Modelling '19, the 7th in the series, but sadly the last. We feel that this conference has now run its course, and that computational modelling techniques are now so well established that they play a part in all major conference programmes.
We had outgrown our previous venue, the St. Michael's Hotel, and the National Maritime Museum, apart from having a fine auditorium, gave us enough space for a small exhibition.
It was a great week, marred only by the unusually wet weather, and very damp groups of delegates arrived for welcome ale at the Chain Locker pub after the first day walks on the coastal path.
A brief stop at the Fal estuary with Physical Separation '19 delegates before the rain arrived
Computational Modelling '19 delegates drying off in the Chain Locker
Thankfully, the weather improved a little towards the end of the week, just in time for the Physical Separation '19 tour of the 19th century ruins of the Wheal Peevor tin mine.
There was good news for Minerals Engineering in July, consolidating its number 1 position with an impact factor of 3.315, well ahead of other journals in this field. I would like to thank not only the Editorial team, but also the many hundreds of researchers worldwide who give up some of their valuable time to contribute to the peer-review process via diligent review of the submitted papers.

It was good to be back in Leeds in September, particularly to attend a conference at my alma mater, Leeds University, which I left 50 years ago prior to departing for Zambia. MEI was a media partner for the 16th European Symposium on Comminution and Classification and it was good to see so many familiar faces from around the world.
With organising committee chairman Mojtaba Ghadiri and familiar faces from Australia
Paul Cleary of CSIRO, Grant Ballantyne of Ausenco and Malcolm Powell of JKMRC
Amanda was back in Australia in September for two major conferences in Perth, MetPlant 2019 and World Gold 2019. Also a good opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.
In early October I "celebrated" 50 years in the minerals industry. In that half century I have seen enormous changes in mineral processing, both in plant practice and research, so it was perhaps an appropriate time to present a guest lecture at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, Germany on The Evolution of Mineral Processing.
Under the leadership of the two co-directors, Prof. Jens Gutzmer and MEI's Sustainable Minerals '20 consultant, Prof. Markus Reuter, the HIF has rapidly developed into one of the world's premier mineral processing research institutes, equipped with state of the art equipment. It also has an impressive team of researchers, led by Minerals Engineering assistant editor Dr. Martin Rudolph, who hosted me at the Institute as well as taking me on a visit to Altenberg, the most famous tin mine in the region, now a mining museum.
Dinner in Freiberg with (L-R) Edgar Schach (Germany), Bruno Michaux (Belgium), Martin Rudolph,
Anna Vanderbruggen (France), Nathalie Kupka (France), Ahmad Hassanzadeh (Iran) and Duong Hoang (Vietnam)
In the Altenberg tin mine
There was another anniversary in October, back in Cornwall, but a more sombre one, the 100th anniversary of Cornwall's worst mining disaster, at the Levant tin mine near Land's End, one of Cornwall's submarine mines, where the lodes extended out beneath the ocean floor. A man engine was installed at Levant in 1857 but in 1919 it suffered a disastrous failure when a link between the rod and the engine snapped, killing 31 men, injuring many others and devastating the St. Just district mining community. On October 20th hundreds of people, including relatives of those killed, attended a very moving service in the ruins of the mine 'dry' from where the miners accessed the tunnel which led to the man-engine, and their 30 minute journey to a depth of 1600 ft.
Some of the relatives of the miners who perished, at the centenary service

Representing the Cornish Mining Sundowners at the man-engine shaft:
Barry Wills, Linda Shimmield, Barbara Wills, Sam Wood and Carol Richards
The following month we were in Cape Town for our biggest conference ever, Flotation '19, with 293 delegates from 33 countries.
On the first day I had the pleasure of presenting the 2018 MEI Young Person's Award to Dr. Zhiyong Gao, of the Central South University, China. Two of his nominators, Profs. Cyril O'Connor and John Ralston, were at the conference, and Prof. Ralston presented the first keynote lecture.
Zhiyong with Cyril O'Connor, me and John Ralston
It was a great week at the Vineyard, which began on the Sunday prior to the conference, where, at a Glencore workshop, Prof. Graeme Jameson cut a special "Jameson Cell cake" to mark the 30th anniversary of the cell, which now has over 350 installations around the world.
Another highlight of the week was the conference dinner, held at the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, a short drive from the conference venue.
At the end of the week, Barbara and I spent a few days relaxing at the Vineyard before flying on to Kimberley and then to Pretoria for a memorable 3-day train journey through Zimbabwe to the Victoria Falls.
The Big Hole, Kimberley
Black rhino at Victoria Falls
And then back to a very wet, windy and cold Cornwall!  It has certainly been an interesting year and, on behalf of all of us at MEI, I would like to thank all of you who were a part of it. We hope to catch up with as many of you as possible in 2020. Happy New Year!

Monday, 23 December 2019

Season's Greetings!

On behalf of the Wills family at MEI, I would like to wish all our friends and colleagues a wonderful festive season and a very happy New Year.
We hope to catch up with as many of you as possible in 2020 in various parts of the world.
Thank you for supporting all that we do.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Death of Victor Bryant: a true hands-on mineral processor

Many people who have been in the mining industry as long as I have will have crossed paths at some time with Victor Bryant, who died on December 1st in Canada. Vic spent almost 50 years in the mining industry in various capacities such as Operations and Project Engineer, Plant Manager, Senior Process Metallurgist, Mill/Concentrator Superintendent and other senior positions.
When I first nervously set foot in the metallurgists' office at Nchanga in 1969, the first of my many days in this industry, it was Vic Bryant who welcomed me. Soon he and his wife Joanna (Jo) became great friends and we shared many of our Zambia experiences with them, including our memorable adventure in East Africa in 1971, where Vic and I spent a night in a Tanzanian prison cell, accused of spying for Uganda!
Tanzania 1971: Barbara with Jo and Vic Bryant and their son Andrew
We went our separate ways after Zambia, but kept in touch and met up occasionally in various parts of the world.
With Vic in the Philippines in 1983
With Vic and Jo at Niagara Falls, 1990
Vic was Vice President and Senior Metallurgist for Micon International Limited between 2005 and 2011 and prior to that spent 10 years with Fluor Daniel consulting on projects for PT Newmont in Indonesia, Phelps Dodge and Asarco in South Peru, BHP in Santiago, Chile, Cyprus Corp. in Arizona and Peru, and numerous other worldwide projects.
He was a Director of Highbank Resources Ltd., Canada from 2002 prior to his becoming CEO/President and retiring from Highbank in 2015.
Our thoughts today are with Jo and their children Andrew and Deborah, and their six grandchildren.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Christmas Sundowner in Camborne

There were no surprise guests at the final Cornish Mining Sundowner of the year last night, held at Tyacks Hotel in Camborne. Unusually, no hot news of Cornish mining either this time, just a very pleasant evening with around 20 of our sundowner 'regulars'.
On behalf of all of us who did attend, we wish everyone a very merry Christmas and happy new year.
The next sundowner will be at the County Arms in Truro on Thursday January 16th. We look forward to a few surprise guests at that one, and hopefully news of goings-on in Cornwall.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

The provisional programme for Comminution '20 is now available

We are pleased to announce that a fine technical programme awaits delegates at Comminution '20 in Cape Town in April. This is the 12th MEI Conference in the series, two years ago being attended by 199 delegates from 24 countries (see report).
Sundowner at Comminution '18
Registration is now open and we advise everyone to reserve accommodation as early as possible, as April is a very popular time to visit Cape Town. If you need a visa, you should also apply for this as soon as possible.
We would like to thank all our sponsors for their support, and also the companies who are exhibiting. Exhibition space is now sold out, but please contact us if you would like to be placed on the reserve list.
Current Comminution '20 sponsors
Conference updates can be found at #Comminution20.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Biomining '20 and Sustainable Minerals '20: Final calls for abstracts

Just a reminder that if you would like to present papers at Biomining '20 and Sustainable Minerals '20 in Falmouth next June, then abstracts should be submitted by the end of this month.
More details are on the blog posting of 28th September.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Announcing an exciting new MEI Conference

As the demand for resources continues to increase, and amidst growing challenges of processing complex ores while minimising energy and environmental impact, we are entering an exciting time for innovation in mineral processing. Innovation in individual unit operations is complemented by innovative approaches to the entire mineral processing flowsheet, from rearrangement of an existing circuit to a new approach for a greenfield development.
Integration, Optimisation & Design of Mineral Processing Circuits (IntegratedMinPro '21) invites papers on new approaches to mineral processing circuits, whether through design, modelling, optimisation or operation. This includes integration of unit operations (e.g. comminution and flotation), novel flowsheets that incorporate new equipment and new approaches to optimising circuit design.
This new MEI conference will cover:
  • Optimisation and integration across different unit operations
  • The integration of new equipment into existing flowsheets
  • Circuit layout design; modelling and optimisation
  • Equipment selection methods
The 2-day conference will be held at the National Maritime Museum, in Falmouth, Cornwall, from June 10-11, 2021, and will be immediately preceded by Physical Separation '21 at the same venue, the 7th in the series but now a 3-day event.
Falmouth, Cornwall
If you would like to present papers at either, or both, of these events, then short abstracts should be submitted by the end of 2020.  As with all MEI Conferences, draft papers will be required for the conference proceedings, and final papers should be submitted after the conferences for peer-review for publication in Minerals Engineering as Virtual Special Issues.
Updates on the conferences will be at #PhysicalSeparation21 and #IntegratedMinPro21

Thursday, 12 December 2019

MEI Young Person's Award 2019: call for nominations

It was a pleasure to present the 2018 MEI Young Person's Award to Dr. Zhiyong Gao, at Flotation '19 last month. Zhiyong was the 8th recipient of this annual award, and the first from China.
As the year draws to a close, it is time to start thinking of who you might like to nominate for the 2019 Award, for outstanding contribution to minerals engineering by a young person in 2019.

Nominations, for persons under 35 years of age at December 31st 2019, should be submitted by email to bwills@min-eng.com by February 7th 2020. Nominations should include the name, age and affiliation of the nominee, and reasons for the nomination.
The recipient will receive an engraved award and a complimentary registration to any MEI Conference in 2020, where the presentation will be made.

Monday, 9 December 2019

A nostalgic journey through Matabeleland on the Rovos train

Just over fifty years ago, in September 1969, Barbara and I said farewell to South African friends who had travelled with us from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and we set off for our new life in Zambia, our first time alone in this vast continent!
The Great North Road took us on a 485 km journey to the Limpopo River, the border between South Africa and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. After an overnight stop in the small town of Gwanda, we passed through the heart of Matabeleland and the anachronistic town of Bulawayo, with its 1950s cars, and roads, wide enough to turn a full span of 16 oxen, lined with jacaranda and bougainvillea. Then on to Victoria Falls along the straight 450km road through unchanging dense bush. At last we came to the mighty Zambezi river and crossed the Victoria Falls Bridge and into Zambia and the start of my now half century in the mining industry.
On the Victoria Falls bridge overlooking the Zambezi
So impressed were we with Rhodesia that a year later we spent a couple of weeks touring this beautiful country (YouTube), the 'bread basket of Africa'. The roads were immaculate, hotels and restaurants of a very high standard and the local people were friendly and accommodating. Rhodesia, like South Africa, was also under white minority rule, Ian Smith’s Government having declared unilateral independence from Britain four years earlier and there was a pervading air of optimism and confidence in the future of this small country, which had everything to sustain it, agriculture, minerals and enormous potential for tourism. Who could have envisaged that South Africa would enjoy peaceful transition to majority black rule under Nelson Mandela, whereas Rhodesia would be plunged into a bloody civil war, leading to the horrors of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe?
Just over 50 years later Barbara and I travelled the same route last month after Flotation '19 in Cape Town, but this time by rail, rather than road, and through a very different Zimbabwe, economically ruined by the despotic Mugabe and his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa, known as 'the crocodile' because of his political cunning. The people of Matabeleland suffered the most under Mugabe, particularly in the early 1980s when he sent in troops to put down opposition supporters in this region.
We travelled to Victoria Falls by the Rovos train, South Africa's rival to the more famous but equally luxurious Blue Train, from Pretoria, the Great North Road running parallel to the train track for much of the route, and we entered Matabeleland as in 1969 at Beitbridge. 
Crossing the Tropic of Capricorn near Mokopane

The first of our three fine dinners, prior to crossing the Limpopo
The following morning we passed slowly through baobab country and almost 30 hours after leaving Pretoria we arrived at Gwanda, our first overnight stop half a century ago.
Baobab country
A short stop at Gwanda
The third day was particularly interesting as we travelled between Matabeleland's capital, Bulawayo, and Victoria Falls, passing through the vast Hwangwe National Park, where passengers could spot game from the train.

A late  afternoon game drive provided many with their first really close encounters with African wildlife, always a very special experience.

And what better way to end a memorable day than a sundowner in the bush before returning to the train to dress for the final dinner.

The following morning, exactly three days after leaving Pretoria, we pulled into Victoria Falls station and said our goodbyes to our fellow travellers and the exemplary Rovos staff and the end of a truly memorable journey. 
Victoria Falls would be the highlight of any itinerary to Southern Africa and can be reached via direct flights from Cape Town, so would I recommend the Rovos experience, a 3 night excursion from Pretoria?
For many of the international travellers on the train, this was their first experience of Africa and without exception they enthused about this mode of travel, a luxurious reminder of a bygone era. The service and food on Rovos were first class, and the journey delivered everything that was promised and more,  unlike the Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town, which promised a visit to the diamond museum and Big Hole at Kimberley, something which did not happen, and apparently rarely does.
But don't expect to glide smoothly through the endless and ever-changing African landscape. For most of the route, particularly in Limpopo, and much of Zimbabwe, the train bucks and rolls along the poorly maintained undulating track. However, if you enjoy train travel, meeting people of all nationalities and being transported back to a time of elegance where dressing for dinner was expected, then this is a great option for experiencing this most wonderful of continents, providing you can manage without those modern necessities internet and mobile phones for three whole days. Without hesitation we would recommend Rovos to anyone wishing to experience the magic of Africa in a relaxed and leisurely way.
And a final recommendation: Victoria Falls is not only a magnificent spectacle viewed from Zimbabwe and across the river in Zambia (see The Smoke that Thunders).
The Devil's Cataract, Zimbabwe
The Eastern Cataract, Zambia
The region teems with wildlife (see also posting of 26th November), so an evening sundowner on the Zambezi is highly recommended, as is a day excursion into Botswana to Chobe, perhaps Africa's most impressive National Park (see Nature's Paradise: Chobe, Botswana).

Evening sundowner cruise on the Zambezi
Elusive black rhinos near Victoria Falls
Some of Chobe's resident 120,000 elephants, the highest concentration in the world
If you would like to experience this 'taste of Africa' trip after a Cape Town conference, I would suggest that you contact MEI's excellent agent Rene Simpson (simpsontours@gmail.com) who will arrange a seamless, custom-made itinerary for you.