Thursday, 31 January 2019

Responsible mining: evidently not in Minas Gerais

Last week's tailings dam breach at the Córrego do Feijão  iron ore mine in Brumadinho, near Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais state in Brazil, is not only an appalling human tragedy but also a major setback to the international mining industry's bid to improve its image and to promote responsible and sustainable mining.
(Source: Wikipedia)
The Córrego do Feijão mine is one of four in Vale's Paraoeba complex, which includes two processing plants. The complex produced 26 million tonnes of iron ore in 2017, or about 7 percent of Vale's output, with Córrego do Feijão accounting for 7.8 million tonnes.
There have been many tailings dam breaches over the past decades, but Minas Gerais has the worst record, too many serious accidents involving burst tailings dams having occurred in this area. In 2014 three workers were killed when a barrier gave way at a dam belonging to Herculano Mineração, an iron ore mining company. In 2007 heavy rains caused the Mineração Rio Pomba Cataguases bauxite mine to burst leaving 5,000 homeless. In 2001 five workers at the Mineração Rio Verde Ltda iron ore mine were killed when the tailings dam failed.
But only three years ago the Bento Rodrigues dam disaster of November 5, 2015 was then the worst environmental disaster in Brazil's history, killing 19 people when the Fundão iron ore containment dam failed and released 60 million cubic meters of iron ore waste. The mine was operated by Samarco, a joint venture between Vale and BHP.
It is estimated that between one and four breaches occur each year at tailings dams world-wide, roughly 10 times the failure rate of water dams. The largest tailings dams, at copper mines high in the Peruvian Andes, are colossal, already as tall as the Hoover Dam and have permits to rise even further. Unlike water retention dams, a tailings dam is raised in succession throughout the life of the particular mine. Typically, a base or starter dam is constructed, and as it fills with a mixture of tailings and water, it is raised.
The disposal of tailings adds to the production costs so it is necessary to make disposal as cheap and as safe as possible. This requirement led initially to the development of the once commonly used upstream method of tailings dam construction, so named because the centerline of the dam moves upstream into the pond. In this method, a small starter dam is placed at the extreme downstream point and the dam wall is progressively raised on the upstream side. The tailings are discharged by spigoting off the top of the starter dike and, when the initial pond is nearly filled, the dyke is raised and the cycle repeated. Various methods are used to raise the dam; material may be taken from the dried surface of the previously deposited tailings and the cycle repeated, or more commonly, the wall may be built from the coarse fraction of the tailings, separated out by cyclones, or spigots, the fines being directed into the pond.
The upstream method of construction
The main advantages of the upstream construction are the low cost and the speed with which the dam can be raised by each successive dike increment. The method suffers from the disadvantage that the dam wall is built on the top of previously deposited unconsolidated slimes retained behind the wall. There is a limiting height to which this type of dam can be built before failure occurs and the tailings flow out and, because of this, the upstream method of construction is now less commonly used.
Most modern large dams are now constructed using the downstream method, which evolved as a result of efforts to devise methods for constructing larger and safer tailings dams. This method produces safer dams both in terms of static and seismic loading. It is essentially the reverse of the upstream method, in that as the dam wall is raised, the centerline shifts downstream, and the dam remains founded on coarse tailings  Most procedures involve the use of cyclones to produce sand for the dam construction. Downstream dam building is the only method that permits design and construction of tailings dams to acceptable engineering standards. All tailings dams in seismic areas, and all major dams, regardless of their location, should be constructed using some form of the downstream method. The major disadvantage of the technique is the large amount of sand required to raise the dam wall. It may not be possible, especially in the early stages of operation, to produce sufficient sand volumes to maintain the crest of the tailings dam above the rising pond levels. In such cases, either a higher starter dam is required or the sand supply must be augmented with borrowed fill, such procedures increasing the cost of tailings disposal.
The downstream method of construction
Several major failures have involved tailings dams constructed with the upstream method. The subsequent enquiry into the Bento Rodrigues disaster identified that the Fundao dam was constructed using the higher risk upstream method, and sands fractions of tailings were used in the embankment construction. In this case, construction defects in the starter dam, combined with insufficient control of the deposition of sands and slimes fractions over several years left an embankment susceptible to failure. To avoid failure, upstream embankments require considerable control over placement of sand and slimes fractions into the tailings storage facility, and limits to the rate at which the embankment is built up to ensure proper compaction and drainage. Some countries, such as Chile, ban the upstream method due to unacceptable risk of failure especially due to earthquakes. 
The upstream method was also used to construct the dam at Córrego do Feijão , which began taking tailings in 1976 and was closed down three years ago.
Two days ago, although Vale had not confirmed why the dam had collapsed, the company announced that it would decommission all 10 of its tailings dams built using the upstream method, all of which are inactive (MEI Online). Vale says that the decommissioning of the upstream dams will be done safely and quickly, and the company will temporarily halt the production of the units where the structures are located. The operation of the halted units will be resumed as soon as the decommissioning works are completed.
Mining companies have a huge responsibility to design and maintain their dams to acceptable standards. Feed to the dams is from the mineral processing operations, so how can mineral processors do their bit?
Water conservation is now of paramount importance, and as much water as possible is now recycled to the mill, often aided by paste thickening, thus increasing tailings density and reducing the volume of tailings directed to the dams, as well as changing the rheology and the likelihood of failure.
Significant safety improvement with the risk of catastrophic dam failure and tailings runout being eliminated can be achieved by 'dry stacking' where the tailings are dewatered, by vacuum or pressure filtration, to a higher degree than paste, and are then transported by conveyor or truck, deposited, spread and compacted to form a stable deposit.  Dry stack facilities are particularly suited to areas of high seismic activity and areas where there is limited construction material to develop a conventional retention impoundment. Although more expensive than conventional methods of disposal, dry stacking is inherently safer and is advantageous where water conservation is of critical concern.
There is also now much emphasis on selective mining and preconcentration, electronic sorting now being an accepted technique for reducing the quantity of ore processed by grinding and concentration, and in many underground mines a considerable amount of tailings can be mixed with binders to produce backfill, reducing the tonnage sent for surface disposal.
Whatever the eventual outcome of the latest catastrophic dam breach, it is another heartbreaking reminder that tailings have not been central to the sustainability agenda of some of the world's largest mines.

Twitter @barrywills

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

MEI Online Update #430

Hello Everyone,
First off, I need to remind you that the deadline for abstracts for Computational Modelling '19 and Physical Separation '19 is the end of this week. If you would like to submit an abstract but are running late, please contact Barry to let him know. These events will run back-to-back in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK this June.
There is also a Final Call for Papers for Flotation '19. Taking place, as usual, in November in Cape Town at the fantastic Vineyard Hotel, this is the 9th event in a series which just keeps on going from strength to strength. If flotation is your thing then do your best to join us! And if you are interested in exhibiting, please contact Jon asap as there are now only 5 booths left. The exhibition area is integral to this event - the welcome reception, and all lunches and coffee breaks are held there. See the diagram to the right.

"It is now widely accepted that this series of Conferences are 'must attend' events for both flotation researchers and practitioners. The great value of attending the Conference is that it provides an excellent forum for an exchange of views among those doing more fundamental research and those from industry who are able to share their successes and challenges with the audience."
Cyril O'Connor, IMPC Chairman
And I mustn't forget that there is a First Announcement of Hi-Tech Metals '20 and Process Mineralogy '20, which will take place back-to-back in October 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa.
We have had a couple more sponsors join us in the last few weeks. I announced in the last newsletter that regular MEI Conferences sponsor, Zeiss, are sponsoring Flotation '19, and now they have also signed up as sponsors of Comminution '20, Process Mineralogy '20, and Hi-Tech Metals '20.
I'm also very pleased to be able to announce that Hudbay Minerals are sponsoring Physical Separation '19, Flotation '19, and Comminution '20. This is the first time that Hudbay Minerals have sponsored an MEI conference so a big thank you from us all!
Best regards,
Twitter @MEIChat
Computational Modelling '19

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

Analytical Techniques & Applied Mineralogy
* First Announcement: Process Mineralogy '20
* Recently Refereed Publication:
Hydrometallurgy Vol.182

Analytical Techniques & Applied Mineralogy is sponsored by FEI

* First Announcement: Biomining '20
* Conference Announcement: International Biohydrometallurgy Symposium (IBS) 2019
* Recently Refereed Publication:
Hydrometallurgy Vol.182

* First Announcement: Comminution '20
* Conference Report: CEEC Mt.Isa Workshop
* CEEC Medal Applications Open
* Metso Completes the Divestment of its Grinding Media Business to Moly-Cop
* Crush It! Challenge - Develop the Next Generation of Mining
* Recently Refereed Publication:
Powder Technology Vol.342

Comminution is sponsored by Russell Mineral Equipment

Computer Applications
* Call for Papers: Computational Modelling '19
* New Powder Calibration Report Provides Guidelines for Simulation of Powder Handling Processes Using Discrete Element Modeling
* Even More Particles, Faster with EDEM 2019
* Recently Refereed Publication:
Chemical Engineering and Processing - Process Intensification Vol.135

Environmental Issues
* First Announcement: Sustainable Minerals '20
* Russian Project Aims to Clean up Smelting
* Mineworx Joint Venture with Enviroleach Begins Second Phase of Electronic Waste Concentration Plant
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Journal of Cleaner Production Vol.210
Hydrometallurgy Vol.182, 2018

Froth Flotation
* Call for Papers: Flotation '19
* Flotation ’19: Call for Abstracts
* Recently Refereed Publications:
Powder Technology Vol.342
Chemical Engineering and Processing - Process Intensification Vol.135
Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects Vol.562
Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects Vol.561
Froth Flotation is sponsored by FLSmidth

General Minerals Engineering
* First Announcement: Hi-Tech Metals '20
* Conference Announcement: BMPC 2019 (XVIIIth Balcan Mineral Processing Congress)
* Conference Announcement: IMPC-EURASIA 2019
* Conference Report: CRC Ore Annual Assembly 2018
* The Launching of the Latest SME Mineral Processing Handbook

Gravity Concentration
* Call for Papers: Physical Separation '19
* Recently Refereed Publication:
Powder Technology Vol.342

* First Announcement: Biomining '20
* Conference Announcement: International Biohydrometallurgy Symposium (IBS) 2019
* Development of E3 Metals’ Extraction Technology Improves Lithium Concentration and Recovery
* Recently Refereed Publication:
Hydrometallurgy Vol.182

Magnetic/Electrical Separation
* Call for Papers: Physical Separation '19
* 2018 Marks a Record Year of Sales for Eddy Current Separators

Materials Handling
* Metso Ships First Batch of Valves with 3D Printed Parts

* BASF and Guangdong Provincial Government Sign Framework Agreement to Establish Verbund Site in Zhanjiang, China
* Recently Refereed Publication:
Hydrometallurgy Vol.182

Reagents is sponsored by Axis House

Sizing, Classification & Sorting
* Call for Papers: Physical Separation '19
* FLSmidth: Completely Re-engineered Trommel Chassis and Screen Media Package

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

Solid-Liquid Separation is sponsored by FLSmidth

Plant Operations
* FLSmidth to Expand Hindalco’s Alumina Refinery in Odisha, India
* Zambia’s Largest Manganese Smelter Under Construction by Chinese Firm
* Nordic Gold Completes 1,234 Ounce First Pour
* Jubilee Secures More Chrome Processing Capacity
* ABB Gearless Mill Drive & Digital Services Help Increase Production by 50% at Kinross Tasiast
* Copper Miner Collahuasi Plans $3.2 Billion Investment to Boost Production
* Alba Starts Biggest Furnace in its History
* MACA to Refurbish Adaman’s Kirkalocka Gold Project in Western Australia
* Roxgold Announces Under Budget Completion of Bagassi South Project
* Advanced Milling Control System Yields Productivity Increase at the Asanko Gold Mine

Plant Operations News Australasia is sponsored by Magotteaux

Plant Operations News Europe is sponsored by Holman-Wilfley

People News
* Dr. Ying Gu (1956-2019)
* Major Chinese Award to Prof. Jan Miller
* Dr. Zhiyong Gao Becomes Youngest Vice-Dean at Central South University, China
* Prof. Janusz Laskowski Honoured by Special Journal Issue
* SMI PhD Student Presents at Falling Walls Lab Australia
* Join the Minerals Engineers LinkedIn Group
People News Australia is sponsored by JKMRC & JKTech

New items in:
* Aluminium - News
* Aluminium - Refereed Publications
* Copper - News
* Copper - Refereed Publications
* Diamond - News
* Gold - News
* Gold - Refereed Publications
* Iron - Refereed Publications
* Lithium - News
* Lithium - Conference Announcements
* Manganese - News
* Phosphates - Refereed Publications
* Platinum Group Metals - Refereed Publications
* Quartz - Refereed Publications
* Rare Earths & Thorium - News
* Rare Earths & Thorium - Refereed Publications
* Tungsten - Refereed Publications
* Uranium - Conference Announcements
* Zinc - News
* Zinc - Refereed Publications
* Zirconium - Refereed Publications

Monday, 28 January 2019

Should journal reviewers be rewarded for their efforts?

Way back in 2011 I asked journal authors for their opinions on the peer-review process. Overwhelmingly the response was very positive- the system has some deep flaws but it is essential for the advancement of science. I wonder if researchers feel the same way eight years on. Are there any issues with the new editorial structure of Minerals Engineering for example?
Very few correspondents suggested that reviewers should be financially rewarded for their time, the feeling being that self-respecting scientists would agree that being part of the peer-review process should be a responsibility of any serious scientist, and part of the job description of a researcher.
However, reviewing a paper can be a time-consuming process. According to results from a 2015 survey conducted jointly by Elsevier’s Customer Insights team and the Publishing Research Consortium, researchers spend a mean time of more than a full working day on reviewing a single manuscript while the modal number of manuscripts reviewed per month is 1-2. It goes without saying that the least journals can do is to demonstrate their appreciation for such an invaluable effort in some way.

I'm not sure that everyone is aware that Elsevier launched “My Elsevier reviews profile” on Elsevier’s Reviewer Recognition Platform in April 2014 with the aim of making peer review a measurable research output. On these private profiles referees can see the list of Elsevier journals for which they have reviewed during the past five years and collect:
• Review certificates associated to their status based on the number of submitted reviews per journal
• A yearly overview of their peer review performance
• Their signature, listing journals for which they have acted as referees
• Vouchers for Elsevier books and article publication services
My Elsevier reviews” profile gets automatically updated each time a referee submits a referee report via one of Elsevier’s journal submission systems, removing the need for manually logging and claiming activities. Access to the private profile page is via means of an encrypted hyperlink, sent to the reviewer by email.
Reviewers who complete just one review in a two-year time period can download a certificate for 'Recognised Reviewer' and those who are in the top 10% become 'Outstanding Reviewers'. See below for my examples (I have refereed only one paper for Hydrometallurgy, and the same for IJMP).

The only financial reward is that reviewers can claim 25% discount and free shipping on Elsevier's print and e-books, and 10% discount on article- , illustration- , translation- and language editing services.
What do you think? Does this incentive provide sufficient acknowledgement of the time spent on reviewing? Do you feel that rewarding reviewers in this way is not necessary, as peer-review should be seen as a reciprocal arrangement between researchers, an essential part of every worker's remit?
Twitter @barrywills

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Ying Gu, 1956-2019

There was sad news reported this week (MEI Online), of the death of Dr. Ying Gu, the creator of the Mineral Liberation Analyser (MLA), which for many years was the competitor to CSIRO's QEM*SEM (later QEMSCAN). These were the forerunners of the modern automated mineral analysers which have played such an important role in how the minerals industry has adapted to the challenges of increasingly complex ore bodies.
Ying with the MLA
Ying played a prominent role in five of MEI's mineralogy conferences, and he spent nearly 20 years with Australia's JKMRC and JKTech, responsible both for the MLA development, sales and support, and latterly made important contributions to the technology of X-ray tomography for mineral texture analysis. He was President of the International Congress for Applied Mineralogy (ICAM) from 2008-2011.
Ying at ICAM '11 with Chris Rule and Robert Schouwstra
Ying was a true pioneer of automated mineralogy, who will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his wife Wenqin Li and two young daughters.

Friday, 25 January 2019

16th European Symposium on Comminution and Classification

Dear Comminution & Classification Colleagues,

The next European Symposium on Comminution & Classification (ESCC) will take place at the University of Leeds, UK. We have great pleasure in organising the event on behalf of the Working Party of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE). ESCC has a long international history, and the last three conferences were held at Braunschweig, Gothenburg, and Izmir. As a long-standing member of the Working Party, representing the Institution of Chemical Engineers of UK, we are delighted to organise this important international conference and welcome the worldwide community to Leeds.

The conference structure is in line with the format of the previous events and will cover themes on foods, pharmaceuticals, mineral processing, fine and ultrafine grinding in the chemical and allied industries, fundamentals of breakage and comminution models as well as new applications. We will have plenary and keynote lectures from leading comminution and classification experts from all over the world, poster sessions and exhibitions by instrument manufacturers. ESCC is a focussed forum in which you have the opportunity to discuss current trends in this area and learn from other industries and can transfer knowledge to your own applications.

Invitation to participate in European Symposium on Comminution & Classification 

You are cordially invited to come to Leeds in 2019 to be part of the ESCC, which will bring together experts of comminution and classification technology from industry and academia worldwide.

Professor Mojtaba Ghadiri, Conference Chair

Please click here to download the first pdf circular

Recent Comments

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

Day 2 of Hi-Tech Metals '18 and the end of a great week at the Vineyard
Process Mineralogy '18 welcome reception follows from Zeiss Workshop
A few simple questions for climate scientists
Travels in Peru
Process Mineralogy '18: conference diary
Hi-Tech Metals '18: conference diary
Return to Chingola
Is CO2 the most maligned gas in history?
The importance of mineral processing: the message just isn't getting through
In memory of Peter Fiore, an Nchanga legend
2018 with MEI
Looking forward to 2019
We welcome Master Magnets as a sponsor of Physical Separation '19
Pleasant surprises at the first Cornish Mining Sundowner of the year

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Thursday, 24 January 2019

Sad news from Cape Town on the death of Roger Thomas

Some very sad news in from Cape Town this morning, of the passing of Roger Thomas, who I managed to contact five years ago, via the blog.  We got together for the first time in 44 years, over coffee at the Vineyard Hotel during Comminution '14.  Barbara and I became great friends with Roger and his wife Janet, and we would meet up for dinner on each of our visits to Cape Town, the last time being only two months ago.
With Roger at the Vineyard Hotel during Comminution '14
Roger was acting plant metallurgist on the concentrator when I arrived in Zambia.  He often reminded me of when he supervised my first duty on the concentrator- looking after the daily and monthly metallurgical accounts. I have vivid memories of Roger praising me for how quickly I produced the first monthly account, and then the next day berating me, as I had completely cocked it up, but at least I was never asked to do this again!
Roger and Janet were adventurous, and they certainly made the most of their time in Zambia, travelling to East Africa (as we did), and climbing Kilimanjaro (which we did not do). They also made an overland trip to UK, driving through India and Afghanistan, something which no sane person would attempt today.
Roger and Janet left Chingola in early 1971 to study for MBAs at the University of Cape Town. He then left the metallurgical profession to develop his entrepreneurial skills, first in boat building and truck hire and then in engineering supply, where he became Managing Director and then Chairman of a company supplying anticorrosive and low friction products. After retirement seven years ago Roger and Janet, and their three children, settled in Constantia, a suburb of Cape Town.
Roger and Janet visiting us in Cornwall during the summer of 2017, with their friends Kathy and Rod Whyte (centre)
After a brave battle with cancer, Roger died last night at home surrounded by his family. Our thoughts are with Janet and the family at this sad time.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Flotation '19: Call for Abstracts

Flotation '19 is MEI's 9th International Flotation Conference, a series regarded by IMPC Chairman Prof. Cyril O'Connor as 'must attend' events for both flotation researchers and practitioners. He felt that the great value is the provision of an excellent forum for exchange of views among those doing more fundamental research and those from industry who are able to share their successes and challenges with the audience.
The value in presenting a paper at Flotation '19 is evident from the many testimonials received from earlier events, and we are now inviting short abstracts for the November conference, which should be submitted by email no later than the end of May. The conference features two discrete symposia, Flotation Fundamentals and Flotation Applications and Practice, and abstracts accepted for oral presentation will require an accompanying draft paper, which will be included in the unrefereed Proceedings, which will be available to delegates at the conference. Draft papers are optional, but strongly preferred, for papers accepted for poster presentation.
After discussion at the conference, all authors will be invited to submit final papers to Elsevier for peer-review with a view to publication in Minerals Engineering journal. The papers will also be collated into a Virtual Special Issue (VSI) of the journal on ScienceDirect (see Flotation '17 VSI). As the conference itself is regarded as the first stage of peer-review, VSI papers are in effect 'fast tracked' and the acceptance rate is much higher than with regular journal submissions (see the posting of 13th January for full details on the advantages of submission to a VSI).
This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the death of one of the 20th Century's foremost flotation and colloid scientists, Dr. Joseph Kitchener, of Imperial College, UK. We are honoured that Prof. John Ralston, the first Director of Australia's Ian Wark Research Institute at the University of South Australia, who worked under Dr. Kitchener at Imperial College, will present the keynote lecture in the Fundamentals Symposium, which will trace the scientific legacy of a hugely gifted man and show how it underpins a significant amount of modern research in mineral flotation and colloid science.
More than a century after its adoption and adaptation as a major mineral separation technology within the mining industry, significant new developments in flotation continue to appear. A number of important contributions have come from Canadians and a selection of these will be highlighted by Dr. Jan Nesset, of NesseTech Consulting Services Inc., Canada, in the keynote lecture in the Applications Symposium.
Apart from what I am sure will evolve into another fine technical programme, there is much more to look forward to at Flotation '19, including an associated exhibition, as always held in the main 'networking area' where the conference breaks for coffee and lunch.
And there will be more great networking opportunities at the evening sundowners and at the conference dinner at the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Sundowner at Flotation '17
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
If you are travelling from overseas to Cape Town it would be a shame to miss out on some of the wonderful things to see in Southern Africa, in South Africa itself, and in neighbouring Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Make the most of your time in November!
Finally a big thanks to the support of our sponsors, who in no small way help us to put on what is now regarded as the world's major flotation event.

The latest updates can be found at #Flotation19.
Twitter @barrywills

Friday, 18 January 2019

Pleasant surprises at the first Cornish Mining Sundowner of the year

There was a great attendance last night for the first Cornish Mining Sundowner of the year, at Falmouth's Chain Locker pub.
A group of sundowner regulars
I was surprised and pleased to see Mike Battersby and Steve Flatman, of Flotation '19 sponsor Maelgwyn Mineral Services (MMS), who had travelled down from Wales to visit local companies Cornish Lithium, Petrolab and Comminution '20 sponsor Grinding Solutions Ltd (GSL). MMS is considering coming down here again in June for Physical Separation '19.
With GSL's Nick Wilshaw, Alan Matthews and MMS's Mike Battersby and Steve Flatman
It was good to see representatives from Cornish Lithium, celebrating the fact that yesterday the company raised a further £1 million from existing investors to explore for lithium brines in Cornwall and to drill exploratory boreholes to extract samples of lithium-bearing brines from key locations. Lithium-bearing brines continue to be the focus of the company but recent research has demonstrated potential for the company to extend its activities to include hard-rock sources of lithium and other metals.
Exploratory drilling was also on the mind of Tony Batchelor, of GeoScience Ltd, based in Falmouth. Tony, the "father of Cornish geothermal energy" is a consultant to the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project, which commenced drilling in November (posting of 1st November 2018), and has now reached a depth of 1645 metres.
Tony (right) with Cornish Lithium staff
As always the sundowner proved immensely enjoyable, as well as a great opportunity for networking. The next sundowner will be held in the Stannary Bar on the University of Exeter's Tremough Campus, on Thursday 21st February, following a progress report at 6pm on Cornwall's major mining projects, Cornish Lithium, South Crofty Mine, and Redmoor.
Twitter @barrywills

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Two important MEI deadlines fast approaching

The end of this month is the deadline for abstracts for Computational Modelling '19 and Physical Separation '19, which will be held in Falmouth, Cornwall in June. More information is on the posting of 24th November 2018.
If you would like to nominate a young person for the MEI Young Person's Award, then please submit your nomination by the end of the month. Full details are on the posting of 13th December 2018.
Twitter @barrywills

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Five more companies confirm support of MEI Conferences

We are pleased to announce that during the past few weeks five more companies have committed to sponsorship of upcoming MEI Conferences.
Hudbay Minerals is a Canadian integrated mining company with operations, development properties and exploration activities across the Americas, principally focused on the discovery, production and marketing of base and precious metals. Hudbay's properties include the Flin Flon copper and zinc facilities and Lalor mine in Manitoba, Canada; the Constancia copper and molybdenum facilities in southern Peru; and the Rosemont copper/molybdenum project in Arizona, United States, which is currently in the permitting phase.
The company has had no previous involvement with MEI Conferences, but its new Vice-President of Technical Services certainly has. Dr. Peter Amelunxen was the first recipient of the MEI Young Person's Award. Prior to joining Hudbay he was a consultant to the company and also served as President of Aminpro Peru’s metallurgical laboratory and engineering team.
Aminpro sponsored the previous 3 MEI flotation conferences, and Hudbay has now committed to sponsoring not only Flotation '19, but also Physical Separation '19 and Comminution '20. Peter says "...over the past years I have participated and presented in various MEI Flotation and Process Mineralogy conferences, all in Cape Town.  I always look forward to these conferences for the excellent organization and the great socializing and networking opportunities that they present, but in particular the concentration of high quality papers and presentations is second to none in our field". 
ZEISS has become, in recent years, one of MEI's most dedicated followers. With its Mineralogic Systems solutions it is a world leader in automated mineralogy. The company has now confirmed its sponsorship of Flotation '19, and Comminution '20, the 3rd time it has sponsored these series. ZEISS has also committed to Process Mineralogy '20, the 5th time it has sponsored the series, and is also sponsoring Hi-Tech Metals '20, the first sponsor of this new series. The company will also be running a free workshop immediately following Process Mineralogy '20, addressing the mining value chain with 2D, 3D and 4D microscopy solutions.
Nouryon may be an unfamiliar name, but the well-known former AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, a sponsor of Flotation '15, was relaunched as Nouryon a few months ago. The move follows the acquisition of the business by The Carlyle Group and marks the company’s transition to becoming an independent, global specialty chemicals leader. We welcome Nouryon as a sponsor of Flotation '19.
The advanced materials and specialty chemicals company Solvay, is once more sponsoring a flotation conference, having supported Flotation '17. Prior to that US-based Cytec was a regular sponsor of the flotation series of conferences, but at the end of 2015 the company was acquired by Solvay.
Finally we welcome Senmin who will be sponsoring Flotation '19, the 7th time they have sponsored the series. Senmin is a South African manufacturer and supplier of mining chemicals used in the beneficiation of a wide range of ores such as platinum, copper, zinc, coal etc, as well as polyacrylamides used for tailings treatment. The company has recently invested in state-of-the-art technology to meet expanding mining requirements and deliver new specialty products, complementing its existing product range to meet the growing demands of mines throughout South and Southern Africa, Australasia and Chile.
The latest updates on all the conferences can be found at #PhysicalSeparation19, #Flotation19, #Comminution20, #HiTechMetals20 and #ProcessMineralogy20.
The latest 5 sponsors of MEI Conferences

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The advantages of publishing your paper in a Minerals Engineering Virtual Special Issue

Minerals Engineering came into being in 1988 (posting of 8th January 2013) and for the first 27 years I was the sole editor. In November 2014 Elsevier appointed Dr. Pablo Brito-Parada, of Imperial College, as my very able and professional associate editor, and the two of us worked together until the merger of International Journal of Mineral Processing (IJMP) into Minerals Engineering at the beginning of this year.
The merger also involved the merger of the Editorial Boards of the two journals, with Dr. Kristian Waters, of McGill University, one of the previous IJMP editors, being appointed as a co-editor with Pablo, and I remaining as Editor-in-Chief. In a move to bring young researchers into the journal structure, Elsevier appointed 6 assistant editors, to work directly with Pablo and Kristian.
The route from receipt of a paper to final decision on publication is therefore markedly different from that of a few years ago.
If you wish to have a paper considered for Minerals Engineering, you submit your manuscript online via the journal website. Elsevier technical staff then make checks, mainly on format, and if approved the paper is then passed on to me. My main role is to assess the potential of the paper for the journal, mainly to ensure that it falls within the scope, it is sufficiently innovative and the science and English are sound.
If your paper passes my 'first filter' I then pass it on to one of the Editors, who then takes full responsibility for the paper. If the handling editor feels, after further reviews of the content, that the paper is worthy he will send the work off for review to two specialists from our +275 strong data base. Or he may appoint an Assistant Editor to look after the peer-review process, requesting revisions where necessary until the time comes for a final decision.
This new system is certainly more time consuming than the previous, and may appear cumbersome, but I fully approve of it as it is bringing 'new blood' into the journal and fresh ideas.
However, papers submitted to a Virtual Special Issue (VSI) move through a very different route, and are essentially 'fast-tracked'. The Editors and Assistant Editors play no part in the review process, authors dealing solely with me.
Let's take a look at the route to publication of a VSI paper to see why your paper is handled so differently:
VSIs are ScienceDirect compilations of papers presented at MEI Conferences. In order to present your work at such a conference, you will have submitted a short abstract to me for assessment. If approved you will have the opportunity of presenting your work either orally or by poster, and you will be required to submit a draft paper prior to the conference. This draft paper will not be refereed, but will be made available to all conference delegates as part of the Proceedings, and will essentially be a discussion document at the meeting. MEI Conferences provide ample time for discussions with other delegates, and we regard the conference as the first peer-review of your paper. 
 After the conference, as a result of discussions, you are asked to amend your draft if necessary, and then to submit online to Minerals Engineering. The paper, identified as a VSI submission, will then be handled directly by me and two reviewers. I always stress, however, that even by this 'fast-track' route there is no guarantee of publication. Many good conference papers are not ideal journal papers (posting of 21 January 2010), but even so, there is a higher chance of publication after your conference experience, and in 2017 the rejection rate of VSI submissions was 53% compared with 82% for non-VSI papers.  
Another great advantage of the VSI system is that there is no hard copy of the special issue. This means that once your paper has been accepted for publication it will be immediately allocated to the next available regular issue of the journal (which does appear in hard copy), and the paper also compiled into its appropriate VSI (click here for an example).
If you are considering submitting your work to an MEI Conference, and then to a VSI, and need any clarification on the above, please do contact me directly.
Twitter @barrywills

Friday, 11 January 2019

The launching of the latest SME Mineral Processing Handbook

The SME Mineral Processing Handbook was first published in 1985 and rapidly became a standard reference, providing comprehensive coverage of all the unit operations in mineral processing, descriptions of process plants for more than 26 minerals and materials, and small sections on hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy. The authors of its many chapters contributed their collective expertise unselfishly to provide a handbook that was truly useful to all the practitioners of mineral processing—students, engineers, mill managers, and operators.
The search for an editor to take on the task of producing an updated handbook began in 2012, as the previous handbook went out of print in 2003 and there was a steady and undeniable demand for a new version. Professors S. Komar Kawatra and Courtney A. Young from Michigan Technological University and Montana Tech, respectively, submitted a joint handbook proposal that incorporated both mineral processing and extractive metallurgy. The proposal was unanimously approved by the SME Information Publishing Committee in 2013.
After six years of intense work by the authors, reviewers, editors, and SME book publishing team, the new SME Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy Handbook is now here, comprising two volumes of 2,312 pages, with 128 chapters.
Once again, each chapter is authored by an acknowledged expert. These selfless experts, recruited by the editors, have each made an invaluable contribution. The chapters were skilfully organized and refined by the managing editor, Dr. Rob Dunne, of Rob Dunne Consulting, Australia, with the incomparable assistance of SME’s book publishing team, led by Jane Olivier, manager of book publishing, who initiated the project.
The new SME Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy Handbook, which will be launched at the SME Annual Conference in Denver in February, provides up-to-date coverage of all mineral processing unit operations, but it also has much larger sections on hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy as well as a section on management and reporting, which discusses such topics as health and safety, community and social issues, and project management.  The new SME handbook is truly a timely document, addressing the new technologies and important cultural and social issues that are important to today’s minerals community.
Twitter @barrywills

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Mountains and Battlefields in KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal (courtesy Natal Tourism)
If you are travelling to Cape Town for an MEI Conference, it is a great opportunity to stay on and explore the diverse and beautiful regions of South Africa. We at MEI have travelled extensively in South Africa, and have shared our experiences on the blog. Cape Town is in one of the most beautiful provinces, the Western Cape, but there are equally beautiful areas, and one of the most interesting is KwaZulu-Natal, not only for its wonderful coastline, but for the impressive Drakensberg Mountains and its fascinating Battlefields area.
Barbara and I spent a week there in 2006, pre-blog days, so rather belatedly I am sharing our experiences now, as I would highly recommend this visit after a Cape Town conference.
We flew from Cape Town to Durban, rented a car and drove to the Southern Drakensberg mountains, where we based ourselves near the town of Underberg. In retrospect we maybe should have based ourselves at the stunning Cathedral Peak Hotel in the heart of the Drakensberg, a hiker's paradise, and close to the Battlefields.
Cathedral Peak Hotel
From Cathedral Peak it is an easy drive down into the heart of Zululand, which saw some bloody battles in the Anglo-Boer War, and of course during the Anglo-Zulu war, but prior to these wars, the Boers, trekking from British oppression in the Cape, encountered Zulu armies when trying to head towards the coast.
En route to Zululand
At Blood River a replica laager of 64 life-size bronze wagons stands on the site where on December 16th, 1838, a 464 man-strong Boer commando defeated a Zulu army of between 15,000 and 20,000. The Boers made a solemn vow to God that should they survive the battle, Afrikaners would hold the day sacred in perpetuity. 3000 Zulu, armed only with spears, were killed, and no Boers died, leading to the myth that the Afrikaners were God’s chosen people.
Blood River
The most humiliating defeat in British military history took place on January 22nd 1879, when virtually an entire force of 1700 men was obliterated at Isandlwana by Zulu warriors armed with spears.
Approaching Isandlwana
The battlefield remains unspoiled and unchanged, apart from the graves of those who died.
Inspired by their victory, 4000 Zulus, part of a reserve force, launched an attack on the mission station at Rorke’s Drift, across the Buffalo River in Natal. Of the contingent of 139 men at Rorke’s Drift, 35 were seriously ill. The battle raged through the night, until the Zulus retreated at dawn. Only 17 British soldiers died, and 11 VCs were awarded, more than any other battle in history.
The Mission Station at Rorke's Drift
Perhaps the highlight of our visit to KwaZulu-Natal was the journey into Lesotho from Underberg, via the Sani Pass, the only road from KwaZulu-Natal into Lesotho, which twists to the top of the escarpment up to the highest point on Southern Africa reachable on wheels. We were in a convoy, with an experienced driver and guide, the road being negotiable only by 4-wheel drive vehicles.
The stark scenery at the South Africa-Lesotho border
The final hairpins
Returning to Underberg
So, another trip for you to think about, just one of many unique experiences to enjoy in this amazing country.
Twitter @barrywills