Monday 20 May 2019

ALTA 2019 - Monday May 20th

Now in it's 24th year, this year's ALTA conference is being held at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Perth, from May 18-24, and comprises of five international conferences in one week:

* Nickel-Cobalt-Copper (20-22 May) including Pressure Acid Leaching Forum & Panel
* Uranium-REE (23 May) including Developments in IX Forum & Panel
* Gold-PM (23 May) including Fit-for-Purpose Leaching Systems Forum & Panel
* In Situ Recovery (ISR) (24 May) including Enhancing ISR Permeability Forum & Panel
* Lithium Processing (24 May) including Novel Lithium Processes Forum & Panel

and three Short Courses presented by Alan Taylor, the Conference Founder and Chair and Managing Director & Metallurgical Consultant, ALTA Metallurgical Services :
* Treatment of Nickel-Cobalt Laterites (18 May)
* Copper SX/EW Basic Principles and Detailed Plant Design (19 May)
* Heap Leaching & its Application to Copper, Gold, Uranium & Nickel Ores (25 May)

Today, Monday 20th, saw the start of the Nickel-Cobalt-Copper sessions. Alan welcomed delegates to the conference, informing us that this year has seen a record number of attendees, with over 440 delegates from 32 countries, 40% of which are from overseas. There are also roughly 40 exhibitors, and, as with MEI Conferences, all coffee and lunch breaks are held in the exhibition area.

Joan & Alan Taylor

The conference was then officially opened by David Weight, President of the Cobalt Institute, UK, who gave a review of the history of the cobalt industry and the challenges it now faces in the age of lithium-ion batteries. It was clear from listening to David that one of the most important challenges of this growing market will be recycling. The Institute is also calling for more proportionality in the global regulation of cobalt compounds.

L-R: David Pattinson (SRK Consulting UK), Andrew Tong (Cobalt Blue Holdings), & David Weight (Cobalt Institute)

David was followed by Dr Bryn Harris, Managing Partner of NMR360 Inc., Canada, who presented the keynote address, "The future of Ni-Co-Cu processing in the age of lithium-ion batteries".

Bryn first gave a brief history of batteries, during which I learnt that the term battery is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who first used it in 1749 when he was doing experiments with electricity using a set of linked capacitors (an interesting history of batteries can be found here), before discussing the growth in electric vehicles, cobalt supply-demand relationships, and cobalt-nickel-copper production and reserves before moving onto an overview of current recycling methods, none of which are currently satisfactory.

Bryn Harris (NMR360) & Amanda Wills (MEI)

Following the first coffee break, Dr Stephen Grocott, Chief Technical Development Officer at Clean TeQ, presented, "The Clean TeQ Sunrise Project - a one stop shop from nickel laterites to lithium ion battery feedstock - project update". There were then 5 papers dealing with battery metals, with a break for a delicious lunch of Mexican food in the middle, during which I got a chance to mingle.

Nobuzwe Makhotla (Innospec Performance Chemicals) & Amanda Wills (MEI)

Jeremy Rattigan (EMCS International)

Gary Frampton (BHP Nickel West), Bryn Harris (NMR360) & George (Tony) Eltrington (Tony Eltrington Consulting)
Kevin Rainbird & Hugh Gullick of Metso Australia
After the afternoon coffee break, there were two papers dealing with laterite processing and two on project risk, and then it was straight into the Welcome Function.

Sponsored by NobelClad, this was a 2-hour event featuring wine, beer and canapes, held in the exhibition area, that flew by... it's a sign of good company and good conversation when I don't get round to taking many photos!

Natalia Streltsova (Vintage94), Ivor Bryan (Mining and Process Solutions), & Frank Trask (Mining and Process Solutions)


  1. Really nice to know so many attending the Cobference--
    Hope we get some clear picture on how the world id going to meet the increaing needs of these metals and challenges that follow in the future to come--reserves, processes and waste disposal.

    1. My keynote attempts to answer that. It will be posted as a free paper on the ALTA site towards the end of June.

      Interestingly for Amanda who was born in Zambia, myself, Tony and David all spent significant time there!

    2. Thanks, would be good to know who you are though.
      Best regards

  2. Sorry, I didn't realize it would show as anon. Bryn

    1. Thanks Bryn. Pleased to see that you met Amanda


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