Friday, 31 May 2019

Monster gold nuggets

It was interesting to hear that an amateur prospector in Western Australia has discovered a 49-ounce (1.4-kilogram) gold nugget valued at nearly $100,000 (MEI Online). The anonymous man allegedly discovered the palm-sized nugget, referred to as a "monster", using a metal detector while wandering around saltbush flats in the Goldfields region.
Photo: Finders Keepers Gold Prospecting via Facebook
Amateur gold finds of such size are rare. In November 2017, a Queenslander discovered a 41.2-ounce nugget beneath the brush outside Townsville, and in August 2016 a prospector discovered a 145-ounce nugget in Victoria’s Golden Triangle.
But coincidentally, earlier this month The London Mint Office presented a special coin to Cornwall to celebrate the discovery 150 years ago of a real monster nugget, the largest ever discovered, dubbed the “Welcome Stranger”, a 2540-ounce (72 kilogram) specimen found by two Cornish miners in Victoria in 1869. Local descendants of the miners were in Redruth to celebrate and Cornwall Gold's Tolgus Tin Mill specially commissioned a commemorative statue as a celebration of the pair’s discovery.
The statue at Cornwall Gold near Redruth depicting the discovery
(Photo Angela Crump)
In the 1850s thousands of people travelled to Victoria in search of their fortune, as part of the Victorian gold rush. Two who did realise their dreams, on 5th February 1869, were John Deason and Richard Oates. John Deason was born on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, but moved to Pendeen in west Cornwall as a one-year-old after his fisherman father drowned. This is where he met Richard Oates, and both are recorded in the 1851 census as working the tin mines of Cornwall.
John Deason with a replica of the Welcome Stranger

John Deason emigrated to Australia in 1853, with Richard Oates going a year later, to begin life as prospectors or "diggers". On a slope called Bulldog Gully, an enormous piece of gold encased in quartz was buried just below the surface. It was so big, that as Mr Deason wrote "I tried to prise the nugget up with the pick but the handle broke. I then got a crowbar and raised the nugget to the surface".
They took it to the town of Dunolly, about 20km away, where it was weighed at the London Chartered Bank of Australia. The bank paid just under £10,000 for the nugget, and the miners were eventually paid £9381, well over a million pounds in today's prices. If sold today it is estimated the nugget would fetch more than £2m, and it would probably have significant prestige value. Both miners died in Victoria some years later.
A replica of the Welcome Stranger gold nugget

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

ALTA 2019 - Friday May 24th

ALTA 2019 continued today with Sessions on Lithium Processing running parallel with In-Situ Recovery (ISR) sessions.
After a brief welcome from the sponsor, Mining3, ISR began with a keynote address from Dr Horst Maerten, Vice-President of Technology at Heathgate Resources, entitled, "Trends in ISR Technology". Heathgate Resources was established in 1990, and is the owner and operator of the Beverley and Beverley North Uranium Mines in South Australia. Beverley, which commenced production in late 2000, is Australia’s first operating In Situ Recovery (ISR) mine.

This was followed by 14 papers dealing with topics on developments in Uranium ISR, ISR for non-uranium metals, and the use of bacteria. It was good to catch up with MEI's keynote lecturer from Biohydrometallurgy '16, Dr Frank Roberto of Newmont Goldcorp, who presented "Microbially-Assisted In Situ Metal Recovery - Where does it Make Sense?"

The day finished with the Enhancing ISR Permeability Forum, which included a Panel Discussion and Q&A chaired by Dr Laura Kuhar, Research Team Leader at CSIRO.

Over in the Lithium Processing sessions, sponsor OLI Systems, represented by Dr Anthony Gerbino, welcomed delegates, before Adrian Griffin, Managing Director of Lithium Australia, presented, "Innovation Required to Meet Future Lithium Demand".

There followed another 15 papers on various topics ranging from Safety to Purification and Recovery, and included the Novel Lithium Processes Forum and a Panel Discussion and Q&A chaired by Dr Chris Griffith, Seniour Process Chemist/Business Development Lead at ANSTO Minerals.

Martin Viera, Edoardo Sommacal and Justin Ridley of Matec Pacific, which was launched in June 2018 to offer high pressure filtration technology to the Australian market.

James Groutsch of METENG, who was at the conference representing METSIM
At lunch today, there were a number of raffle draws to win prizes at booths, unfortunately I didn't win any of them!

Danielle Hewitt displaying the prizes on offer at the CSIRO booth
Allison Taylor gathers the crowd to the Koch Knight booth for their draw
Greg Mann (Koch Knight) presents Rudy Furrer (Sherritt International) with his prize

A selection of the 17 delegates from CSIRO who attended ALTA this year.
L-R: Danielle Hewitt, Rebecca Meakin, Grant Douglas, Goutam Das &
Joanne Loh Goutam Das presented "Extraction of Lithium from Spodumene Concentrate"
in this afternoon's Novel Lithium Processes Forum

Afternoon tea break

Bongiwe Nkabane and Seshree Pillay of Mintek
Seshree presented "Positioning of IX within the Uranium Industry" during yesterday's Developments in IX Forum, whilst Bongiwe presented "Au from Carbon Fines" in the Gold-PM session yesterday.
ALTA 2019 will continue tomorrow with the short course, "Heap Leaching & it's Application to Copper, Gold, Uranium and Nickel Ores", presented once more by Alan Taylor. But my time here has ended, and what a great time I have. I have met so many new faces, while reconnecting with old, and I have to say a special thank you to the Taylor family for being so welcoming and treating me like one of their own. My last two photos from the conference are for them!

Before I go though, there is a call for papers for ALTA 2020 - the 25th anniversary event, which I'm sure will be very special and I hope to see you all there!

Joan & Alan Taylor presenting Amanda Wills with a gift

Allison Taylor, Amanda Wills, & Rebecca Taylor

Saturday, 25 May 2019

ALTA 2019 - Thursday May 23rd

ALTA split into parallel sessions today, with two 1-day conferences: Gold-PM and Uranium-REE.

Uranium-REE began with an opening address from Dr Brett Moldovan, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), "What will Future Uranium Mining Projects Look Like?".

Using information which was mainly sourced from the IAEA/NEA Red Book, Brett lead us through a summary of the global uranium demand forecast, the supply forecast, an overview of global assured resources, a geological summary of uranium resources, the forecast of global uranium production capability, key considerations for mines of the future and innovation opportunities in the uranium industry.

Dr Karin Soldenhoff, Technology Manager - Minerals at ANSTO, delivered the keynote, entitled "Uranium IX - Past, Present and Future" - a challenge indeed for a 35 minute slot!

Over in the Gold-PM session, Prof Jacques Eksteen, Director of the Gold Technology Group  and Chair of Extractive Metallurgy at the Western Australia School of Mines, Curtin University, delivered the keynote address, "Fit-for-Purpose Precious Metals Leach Systems: Matching Leach Strategies to Source Characteristics".

Both sessions were busy days, with Uranium-REE containing another 14 presentations, culminating in the Developments in IX Forum with a Panel Discussion and Q&A led chaired by Alan Taylor, whilst the Gold-PM session contained another 15 presentations and included the Fit-for-Purpose Leaching Systems Forum with a Panel Discussion and Q&A chaired by Prof Jacques Eksteen.

CSIRO were well represented at this year's ALTA, with around 17 delegates attending over the 5 days.  Today they had 3 presentations in the Gold-PM session, including "Demonstration at Scale in the Field of a Non-Toxic Reagent System to Recover Gold", presented by Dr Paul Bruer, Principal Research Scientist - Gold Processing.

Gay Walton, Kevin Quinlan and Danielle Hewitt, all of CSIRO

Dane Platyes and Matthew Kiem 

Daya Dallakoti and Santo Varghese of Flowrox 

Frank Trask, Technical Director at Mining and Process Solutions

Joan Taylor (ALTA Metallurgical Services) with Greg Mann (Koch Knight)
Koch Knight are celebrating 15 years of support for the ALTA conference

Pete Smith, General Manager of MOGAS Australia

Joe Zhou (Joe Zhou Mineralogy), Jianqiao Kang (Beijing Research Institute of Chemical Engineering and Metallurgy (BRICEM)), Ziying Li (Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology) and Li Boping (Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology)
Joe presented "Geometallurgy and Process Mineralogy of Gold Ores: Methodologies and Applications in Process Selection and Plant Optimization" in the Gold-PM session today, whilst Jianqiao presented "The Research of Cladding Technology for Acidic Uranium Tailings and the Control of Radon Exhalation" in the Uranium-REE session.
Conference sponsors EKATO drew visitors to their booth with their virtual reality experience

The day ended with a Happy Hour, with drinks and snacks provided courtesy of sponsors Ausenco.

Happy Hours are regular occurrences at MEI Conferences, as they provide an excellent way to wind down and network with fellow delegates.

I was lucky enough to chat to Julia Garside of AusYGN (below) who was at the conference for the day to promote the International Youth Nuclear Congress (IYNC), which is being held in Sydney, Australia on 8-13 March 2020, and co-hosted with the Australian Young Generation in Nuclear (AusYGN). Under the theme Diversity in Nuclear, the mission of IYNC2020 is to promote and enable the diversity of people engaged in the many peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.

Julia Garside (AusYGN)
I was also pleased to meet Murdoch Mackenzie, of JMW Mackenzie, who has attended every ALTA conference!

Allison Taylor with Murdoch Mackenzie

 Outotec (sponsors of Physical Separation '19, Flotation '19, and Comminution '20) were well represented
Lukasz Szwancyber (left) and colleagues from KGHM Polska Miedz

Dwight Van der Meulen from SGS Australia (left) and colleagues with Ben Sipos (AngloGold Ashanti)

Justin Ridley (Matec Pacific), Martin Viera (Matec Pacific), Cathy Cheng (CPC Engineering), George Butjor (Electric Metals) & Edoardo Sommacal (Matec Pacific)

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Evening drinks with two regular conference sponsors

Meanwhile, back in Falmouth, I strolled down to the Chain Locker last night for a couple of pints with old friends from Cornish company Grinding Solutions Ltd (GSL), sponsors of Comminution '20, and Maelgwyn Mineral Services (MMS), sponsors of Flotation '19.
L-R: Mike Battersby (MMS), Felicity and Nick Wilshaw (GSL), Peter Sullivan, Heiner Sprenger, Rainer Imhoff (MMS), BW and Steve Flatman (MMS)
MMS are down from Wales to assess the progress in the installation of a pilot scale Imhoflot™ G Cell at GSL, which will be available for metallurgical testwork. We will hear more of this at Flotation '19. MMS will also be delivering an Aachen Shear Reactor testwork rig to GSL for determining the benefits of pre-oxidation and kinetic enhancement of gold cyanidation.
With the Imhoflot flotation cell at GSL
 Twitter @barrywills

ALTA 2019 - Wednesday May 22nd

Today was the last day of the Nickel-Cobalt-Copper conference, and began with Pavel Spiridonav of InnovEco Australia presenting his second paper of the conference, "Investigation of the Resin in Moist Mix Process for the Nickel and Cobalt Recovery from Laterites".

Next up were two papers on Heap Leaching, and then after the coffee break, the rest of the day was devoted to the Pressure Acid Leaching Forum, which acknowledged the 20 year anniversary of the commissioning of the Bulong, Cawse and Murrin Murrin PAL projects, with 8 papers. This included two papers from Clean TeQ's Sunrise Project in NSW.

Fiona Sofra, Managing Director of Rheological Consulting Services, presented a paper on the project's flowsheet rheology and it's implications on the process design, and Tim Harrison, Manager of Process Development at Clean TeQ, presented "The Clean TeQ Sunrise Project - Pilot Demonstrated Upgrade of Pressure Acid Leach Discharge Through Use of Continuous Resin in Pulp Technology.

The day finished with a Pressure Acid Leaching Panel Discussion and Q&A chaired by Alan Taylor.

Jim Wall & Tim Harrison of Clean TeQ

Brenton Ward and Luzaan Jooste of Turtle Tough talking to Diane Quan (Purolite)
Pavel Spiridonov (InnovEco Australia) chatting to Ben Gatzlaff and Kevin Merrie at the Rema Tip Top booth
Steuler KCH held a draw during the lunch break for a bottle of Royal Salute Scotch Whisky

Iain Bennett, Managing Director of Steuler KCH presents the lucky winner with his whisky
Matthew Newman and Pete Forakis of SGS with their demonstration autoclave
Danielle Hewitt, Technology Transfer Advisor at CSIRO Mineral Resources (left) chats to delegates during a coffee break

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

ALTA 2019 - Conference Dinner

Last night's conference dinner was a fine affair. Held in the Pan Pacific's Grand River Ballroom, staff had made an impressive quick change from conference room to dinner venue.

The theme of the evening was Star Wars, and after pre-dinner drinks in an anteroom, the 150 guests were welcomed into the ballroom by the sound of the Star Wars theme tune and greeted by Stormtroopers and R2D2!

Amanda Wills with a balloon Stormtrooper

The dinner was sponsored by JordProxa, and General Manager John Warner gave a few words to the guests, before Alan Taylor presented, "The Rise of Cobalt - A Laterite Wars Story". Alan raised more than a few laughs from the audience with his comparison's with 007, Jason Bourne and the Star Wars series of movies.

Alan Taylor entertained guests with his dinner speech

The food was excellent quality, as was the wine, and I was lucky enough to enjoy great company at my table. As well as the Taylor's; Alan, Joan, Allison and Rebecca, I enjoyed getting to know David and Amanda Weight better, and chatting to Bryn Harris about our Zambian connection. Also present were Jacques Eksteen - a familiar face from our MEI Conferences, Karin Soldenhoff, and Adrian & Josephine Griffin.

Amanda Weight, Josephine & Adrian Griffin, and Allison Taylor
Luzaan Jooste getting to grips with the Stormtroopers
Adrian Griffin and Alan Taylor

Bryn Harris, Karin Soldenhoff and Jacques Eksteen

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

ALTA 2019 - Tuesday May 21st

There were 12 papers presented today, on the topics of Extraction and Purification, Filtration, and Leaching Process Development.

Mike Hourn, General Manager at Glencore Technology (sponsors of MEI's Flotation '19 and Comminution '20 conferences) kicked things off with "First Commercialisation of the Albion Process for Copper".

Mike began by giving us an overview of Glencore's activities in Africa and the challenges involved, before running us through the key highlights of the Albion Process. He then lead us through the development of the Albion Process for copper at the Sable Copper Project in Zambia, which averaged a 98.5% copper recovery rate, thereby proving that the technology could be used with copper.

He was followed by Bravo Mbao, Regional Technical Manager at Solvay (who are also sponsoring Flotation '19), who presented, "Acorga CR60 Crud Mitigation Reagent - Commercial Trials in North America and Africa". Rather than deal with crud on a reactive basis, Solvay has developed a reagent which inactivates crud formation under certain conditions in copper SX, according to the results of these trials.

Bravo can be seen below with some of his colleagues at Solvay's exhibit booth.

Tryphena Mitchell, Ashley Stewart, Alun James & Bravo Mpao of Solvay

Below are a selection of photos from the rest of the day:

Gary Zhang, Fumin Guo & Jean-Marc Vesselle from Sunresin New Materials

Karin Soldenhoff (ANTSO) & Peter Haig (BASF)
Geoff McGaw and Mark Mulligan from FLSmidth

Frank Roberto (Newmont Goldcorp), Denis Shiers (CSIRO), Danielle Hewitt (CSIRO Mineral Resources), Scott Shuey (Newmont Mining) and Judy McShane (BHP Nickel West)

Boyd Willis, Principal at Boyd Willis Hydromet Consulting, who presented a paper on "The Platina Scandium Project - One Step Closer to Production"
Lunch in the exhibition area
Grant Wellwood (Jenike & Johanson)