Monday, 29 July 2019

The Evolution of Mineral Processing- thoughts from 40 years ago

Way back in 1979 I was a young lecturer at the Camborne School of Mines (CSM) and in that year we had a very eminent Visiting Fellow from Australia, Prof. Alban Lynch, the founding Director of the JKMRC.
Prof. Alban Lynch in the early 1970s
I was involved with the production of the CSM Annual Journal, and persuaded Alban to contribute an article, and the subject that he chose was The Evolution of Mineral Processing, a subject that I have presented a couple of times in China over the past two years, and have been invited to present at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg in Germany in October.
It is fascinating to look back and read what Alban had to say about the developments that had taken place in the first 80 years of the 20th century, and what his thoughts were for the future.
He began by comparing mineral processing advances with other technologies, such as jet aircraft, nuclear power, space flights, lasers and computers and felt that it was depressing to realise that there had been only three major advances in mineral processing during the century, one occurring in each quarter of the century.
However he stressed that "our reputation as engineers" was somewhat restored by the fact that the first of these developments was froth flotation, "one of the greatest technological advances of our age and this will be realised if an attempt is made to conceive of a world without ample and cheap supplies of copper, lead, zinc and nickel".
The other two major developments were, Prof. Lynch suggested, the industrial processing and pelletising of taconites, and the development of on-stream analysis. The moral from these developments, he said, is that important advances in mineral processing, advances which solve serious problems, are slow and require a large investment of money and effort. With this in mind, he asked what we can say about the problems of the present and the future? He predicted that the solution of the problem of concentrating fine particles less than about 10 microns in size could be the fourth achievement of the 20th century.
Little did Alban know that in 1979 we were at the cusp of the 3rd Industrial Revolution, and the explosion in computing power that would take place in the 1980s, leading to rapid developments in automatic control, simulation and process design, and that he would be one of the pioneers in the relatively new field of modelling and simulation, which would aid design of ever larger equipment and innovative new processes. He did identify one of the most important problems, and an area in which the JKMRC would become a leader, 'mine-to-metal' relating to rock breakage by explosives and the ability to tailor these processes such that "we finish up with a product which is the best that we can get for future use".
He said that he could not emphasise too strongly the importance of further advances in mineral processing technology because of the major influence which minerals have always had on the welfare of society. He quoted Sir Paul Hasluck, a politician, historian and former Governor-General of Australia who said that "engineers are the shapers of contemporary civilisation and to no group does this apply more than the minerals engineers".
Prof. Lynch concluded by saying that the achievements of the final quarter of the 20th century would be in the hands of the new generation of metallurgists. I was fortunate to be involved in the teaching of this new generation, many of whom I have kept in contact with and have been proud to follow their achievements in this crucial industry. They in turn have produced a new generation and some of these are also now a part of the minerals world, and I would like to ask the young (and not so young) metallurgists of today- what do you feel are the main problems of the present and the future?
Twitter @barrywills

Thursday, 25 July 2019

We welcome back Cenotec, the latest sponsor of Comminution '20

Cenotec, a South Korean company, was founded in 1999, and manufactures grinding media beads (Cenobeads™) with a range of specific gravities. The company currently supplies mining companies in Africa, Australia, South and North America. They first sponsored an MEI comminution conference in 2012 and have sponsored each event since then, so we are delighted to welcome them back to Comminution '20.
Cenotec representatives at Comminution '12
One of Comminution '20's keynote speakers, Chris Rule, has a major involvement with Cenotec, having set up Cenotec SA a couple of years ago when he left Anglo American. He is now Cenotec Korea’s Southern Africa agent.
Chris Rule, with his daughter Jessica, of Cenotec SA, and Brian Chaponda, of Lonmin, at Comminution '18
It's looking good for Cape Town next April, and there is a call for abstracts for the conference. Papers presented at the conference will be invited for peer-review, and if accepted published in a special issue of Minerals Engineering.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Is Zero Carbon by 2050 attainable?

The UN Paris Agreement demands that humanity must reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of this century. British Prime Minister Theresa May has committed the UK to attain this goal by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so. Some significant changes are happening already – new coal-free records are being set every week and diesel and petrol cars are set to be phased out by 2040. Established zero-emissions technology such as wind and solar power are all rapidly growing.
How realistic are these goals, however? Unfortunately politicians promise great things without a passing thought to the fact that to attain these goals will put enormous demands on what are very finite resources of raw materials.
Phasing out of the internal combustion engine is a very worthwhile aim, as petrol and diesel vehicles are a major source of pollutants and greenhouse gases, but electric vehicles do not grow on trees- they need substantial amounts of metals and non-metals, all of which have to be mined.
Ten years ago China had no electric cars, but last year sales reached over 1 million and are climbing rapidly. It is projected that by 2050 there will be around 1 billion more electric cars in the world than there are now. Each car will need around 80 kg of copper, and add to this copper in electric lorries and buses, and around 20% extra copper would need to be mined annually.

Although there are adequate reserves of copper, the latest analysis by Bank of America Merrill Lynch suggests that new copper developments will not swamp the market and create oversupply any time soon. Average mine grades fell from 1.31% in 2000 to 0.94% in 2018, raising operating costs and slowing the enthusiasm to develop new mines. This has been exacerbated by the low esteem in which the industry is currently being held, inhibiting capital investment, and the need to obtain social licenses to operate (Is mining facing its second existential crisis?).
But there is much more to electric vehicles than just copper. The lithium-ion battery is the heart of an EV and the figures below show estimates of the commodities in a typical battery pack, and how the demand on commodities would change if all cars became electric by 2050.

Source: UBS Estimates
Currently around 45,000 tonnes of lithium are produced annually, from hard rock ores containing spodumene and petalite, and from lithium brines. Reserves are estimated at about 16m tonnes but production will need to be significantly ramped up to satisfy demand, and potential new areas of operation, such as the lithium brines in Cornwall, are being evaluated.
Cobalt is an essential element in EV batteries, but unfortunately around 60% is from the politically unstable Democratic Republic of Congo and Roskill estimates that 16.5kt of cobalt was produced by illegal artisanal mining in the DRC last year, much of it involving children and accounting for many fatalities. As such, artisanal production accounted for roughly 15% of the country’s cobalt output.
It has been estimated that a 20% increase in UK-generated electricity would be required to charge the EVs to be driven in the UK. This, and all electricity, would have to be generated mainly by non-fossil fuels if a zero carbon footprint is to be attained, although expensive carbon-capture and storage could be used for electricity generated by natural gas. 
Wind power gives many the impression of getting something for nothing, but of course that is not the case. Construction of a wind turbine requires a great deal of energy and there is also an environmental factor, not least involving the construction of the concrete foundation, as the cement industry is one of the world's greatest emitters of CO2.
The heart of the wind turbine is the nacelle and inside it carries the technology required for converting kinetic energy into electricity. Hence it is the most complex component, made up of a series of elements which are widely differing in nature. Each of these elements has its own associated technology and manufacturing processes. Copper is a critical metal, and is used in high quantities but a crucial component within the nacelle of large turbines is the powerful direct-drive permanent magnet generator, which contains a critical rare earth element, neodymium. Neodymium is commonly used as part of a Neodymium-Iron-Boron alloy (Nd2Fe14B) which is used to make the most powerful magnets in the world. It has been used in small quantities in common technologies for quite a long time – hi-fi speakers, hard drives and lasers, for example. But only with the rise of alternative energy solutions has it really come to prominence, for use in electric vehicle and wind turbines. A direct-drive permanent-magnet generator for a top capacity wind turbine would use around 2 tonnes of neodymium-based permanent magnet material.
 Neodymium is found mostly in monazite and bastnaesite. Due to the fact that these minerals also contain lanthanides and other rare earth elements, it is difficult to isolate neodymium and it is an energy intensive and potentially environmentally harmful process, carried out mainly in China, by far the world's greatest source of rare earth metals.  Leaching  involves acid or sodium hydroxide at high concentrations, producing potentially hazardous wastes. Separation, concentration and recovery all  require much energy either for the process itself or for the reagents in the process. Monazite and basnaesite are associated with radioactive actinides such as thorium and uranium and safe disposal of these wastes is problematical.  So when you look up at a huge wind turbine, it is not as 'green' as often made out to be.
Solar power is also dependent on finite resources, all the photovoltaic systems currently on the market being reliant on 'hi-tech metals' such as high purity silicon, indium, tellurium, gallium, often referred to as 'critical' because of their recovery being dependent as by-products of the mining of other metals, such as zinc, or due to their natural scarcity.
Nuclear energy is the preferred option for many people. It is carbon free, but since Chernobyl it has been side-lined by many countries as a potentially very hazardous operation with no really acceptable means of disposing of the eventual waste.
In an ideal world we would like a single energy source which would convert limitless fuel into vast amounts of energy, drastically reducing the costs of metal extraction and thus easing the supply of the commodities needed to satisfy society as it moves into the 4th Industrial Revolution. This Holy Grail of energy exists, the science is well understood, but the engineering problems are immense. Just over 4 years ago I wrote about the quest to contain nuclear fusion, a carbon-free process that produces four times more power than nuclear fission, with no waste disposal problems, and a fuel, isotopes of hydrogen, which is abundant (Is the end of the world of mineral processing nigh?).
Despite billions of dollars having been thrown at it, fusion’s imposing challenge has not yet been met. For atoms to fuse, a huge amount of energy must be generated. As such, materials must be developed that can withstand hundreds of millions of degrees. To create fusion energy, light nuclei of deuterium and tritium are fused within high-pressure, high-temperature plasma, which is contained by a magnetic field. As yet, scientists haven’t refined this magnetic confinement efficiently enough to reach a break-even point – where the energy output equals the energy input.
But immense amounts of money have been expended by various companies. Lockheed Martin claimed 5 years ago that its compact fusion reactor, which will fit "on the back of a truck" and produce a 100 MW output, enough to power a town of 80,000 people, would be developed and deployed within 10 years. The company claimed that the key to the success of its reactor concept lay in a magnetic bottle that withstands 150 million-degree temperatures while offering 90% size reduction over previous concepts.  Lockheed Martin's plan was to build and test a compact fusion reactor in less than a year with a prototype to follow within five years, operational reactors being available in 10 years time.

Lockheed Martin registered a patent in March last year, but no further information is available, but in France construction has begun on a $20 billion dollar fusion reactor ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor). This is the most advanced fusion reactor in the world, but is many years away from providing a source of fusion energy.
Construction of ITER
Limitless energy generated by fusion will eventually happen but maybe not this century? But never underestimate the ingenuity of man; if great minds get together to solve a problem there is a fair chance that they know that the problem can eventually be solved. There are great parallels between fusion and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.  The science behind the LHC experiment is fairly simple, but the engineering problems are immense, but were overcome despite much opposition.
In an excellent article in The Times (July 1st 2019) Science Editor Tom Whipple evokes the spirit of the Apollo moon landings, showing what humans can achieve when they put their minds to it. Putting a man on the moon 50 years ago was a staggering, almost impossible, feat of engineering, considering the computing power then available, but the USA threw 4% of the federal budget at it and achieved the impossible. As Whipple observed, landing on the moon was not impossible, as President Kennedy would not have called for it eight years earlier. Engineering problems, no matter how formidable, can be overcome, just as 25 years before the moon landing the Manhattan project, working on the basis of a "simple" scientific equation, utilised the best brains available and limitless funds to develop the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, a feat which is even now beyond the capabilities of most countries.
British Chancellor Philip Hammond has said that achieving a target of zero carbon would cost the UK £1tn and could thus require spending cuts to public services. Whipple concludes by saying that if governments can intervene at scale for a largely symbolic mission to a barren rock, then surely we can do the same to try to save what life remains on our own rock? To paraphrase the famous line from Kennedy's 1961 speech, which global leader has the guts to say "A sun on Earth before the next decade is out"?
I have made a note in my diary to come back to this posting in 10 years time! In the meantime, the issues discussed above are very relevant to two MEI Conferences next year: Sustainable Minerals '20 in Falmouth in June, and Hi-Tech Metals '20 in Cape Town in November of that year.

Twitter @barrywills

Friday, 19 July 2019

July Cornish Mining Sundowner

No big surprises at last night's Cornish Mining sundowner, attended by around 20 regulars on a warm evening at Falmouth's Chain Locker.

The latest mining news from Cornwall is that Cornish Lithium Ltd, which has exploration rights for lithium and other battery metals across a large area of Cornwall, has, in collaboration with consultancy company Wardell Armstrong and the Natural History Museum,  been granted funding for a new study to assess the feasibility of developing a UK supply of lithium.
Cornish Lithium has also turned to crowdfunding to raise £1m,  the initiative going live last Friday. It is one of the first companies of its type to resort to crowdfunding, earning pledges of cash from multiple investors. The campaign will go towards progressing the company’s drilling programme and expanding on-going exploration in the region.
And talking of drilling, 5 weeks ago today Physical Separation '19 ended, and in the late afternoon I took delegates to visit the ruins of Wheal Peevor. As we passed through the village of Carharrack I pointed out the giant drilling rig of the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project (Exploiting Cornwall's Geothermal Potential), which had already created the deepest well in mainland UK, at a depth of 5275m and was about to complete drilling of the second well, the injection well.  Two weeks later the well reached the Porthtowan Fault Zone at a depth of 2393m, and now the rig is no longer a familiar site on the skyline.
Preliminary results from the drilling are promising. Both wells intersected the fault at the predicted depth and the temperature at the bottom of the deeper production well is around 190C, which is also as expected. Downhole measurements have confirmed that there are lots of natural fractures and early indications are that the permeability is promising and that all seems set for building a small demonstration power plant and supply power to the grid.
Many of the sundowner regulars have connection with Camborne School of Mines, and I was pleased to hear that CSM is now ranked 14th place in the world for Mineral & Mining Engineering in the recent QS World Rankings for 2019. Congratulations to the 'other CSM' in Colorado for retaining the world #1 position.

Three former CSM Association secretaries, Claire Yelland, Carol Richards and Linda Shimmield with Prof. Frances Wall

A reminder that if you are in Cornwall on August 15th, call in at the August sundowner, which commences at 5.30pm at the Chain Locker.
Twitter @barrywills

Monday, 15 July 2019

In conversation with Janusz Laskowski

Janusz Laskowski
I first met Prof. Janusz Laskowski at the 1988 IMPC in Stockholm, and have caught up with him at every IMPC, apart from Moscow, since then, as well as occasional SMEs, and at MEI’s flotation conferences; he was a keynote speaker at Flotation ’15 in Cape Town.
Janusz is Professor Emeritus of mineral processing at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and obtained all his degrees, including Ph.D., from the Silesian University of Technology in Poland.
In 1984 he founded “Coal Preparation” international journal and was its editor-in-chief until 2004.
An acknowledged expert on the surface chemistry of flotation, Prof. Laskowski was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Mineral Processing Council at the 24th International Mineral Processing Congress in Beijing (2008), and is a recipient of the SME’s Antoine Gaudin Award (2011).
Young Janusz with his grandfather
and father before WW2
Janusz Stanislaw Laskowski was born in 1936 in Pszow, Upper Silesia. His father was a graduate of the Technical University of Mining and Metallurgy in Krakow, and was a deputy director of the Rymer Coal Mine. On the first day of World War II in 1939 he ended up, as did most Polish engineers, doctors and lawyers in Upper Silesia, in a German Concentration Camp.  He survived the war, and was the first General Director of the newly organized Central Research Mining Institute in Katowice (later he became president of the Silesian University of Technology). 
The young Janusz spent the next five years with his mother’s family in a small village, Posadza, near Krakow. He was nine years old when in a beautiful sunny winter of 1945 Marshal Koniev’s Southwest Front of the Red Army started surging towards Krakow.  He said that “a dull rumble slowly dominated everywhere. The family quickly moved into the fortified cellar.  One day the war stopped for three intense days in my village and a young German sergeant dug out a position for his heavy machine gun behind my uncle’s barn. “My war” ended when Russian T-34 tanks appeared and the German sergeant, who was shooting to the last cartridge, forced his way to our cellar where all the family was hiding. He was immediately followed by Red Army soldiers who shot him on the spot. Over the next few days the snow-white fields were tainted by the dead bodies of German and Russian soldiers”. 
A few months later he was back in Upper Silesia, in Katowice, and was admitted to the third year primary school to complete his education. 
Janusz graduated with a B.Sc. in chemistry from the Silesian University of Technology in 1956, obtained an M.Sc. degree in chemical engineering in 1958, and Ph.D. degree in mineral processing in 1963.  
Janusz and his wife Barbara, a successful dentist,
after the official ceremony for his award of PhD in 1963.
Barbara and Janusz are with Janusz’s parents, his father being University Rector
In 1961/62, his international career began when he spent one year in Prof. P.A. Rehbinder’s Department of Colloid Chemistry, Lomonosov University, Moscow, as a postgraduate student, and was involved in research under the supervision of Professor V.I. Klassen at the Mining Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Janusz said “in the early stages of my professional career I was very much inspired by Professor Klassen, and the topic of my PhD project, coal salt flotation, was a result of this influence”. In 1966 he translated Klassen’s monograph, Coal Flotation (V.I. Klassen, Wyd. Slask, Katowice, 1966; Polish text). After translating Klassen’s monograph he started working on his own book on coal flotation which was finally published by Elsevier in 2001 (Coal Flotation and Fine Coal Utilization). The book was dedicated to “my professors: Tadeusz Laskowski, Willy Ivanowich Klassen and Joseph A. Kitchener.”
As assistant professor at the Silesian University of Technology in 1966, he organised the 1st Seminar on Physicochemical Problems of Mineral Processing which with time evolved into a regular annual event and regularly published journal. 
Gliwice, 1964, Prof. Willy Ivanowich Klassen (3rd from left) with
Prof. Andrzej Waksmundzki (left) and Janusz’s father Prof. Tadeusz Laskowski (far right),
at the conference organized by the Silesian University of Technology when the
Slask Publishing office invited Klassen to visit Poland to publish
the Polish translation of Klassen’s “Coal Flotation” monograph.
Janusz with his wife Barbara and Prof. Klassen at the stop in Krakow on
the way from Gliwice to Zakopane to show Klassen the Tatra Mountain ski resort
He was chairman of the organising committee of these annual conferences until 1980, and, when he left Poland, the Symposia were taken over by his previous Ph.D. students and research associates (Dr. J. Lekki, Dr. A. Luszczkiewicz, Dr. J. Drzymala, Dr. Z. Sadowski). Since then he has been a member of the Editorial Board. Issue no.4, Volume 54, of Physicochemical Problems of Mineral Processing was published to honour him on his 82nd birthday. 
Janusz (2nd left) at the 2014 IMPC in Santiago with Polish colleagues
Tomasz Chmielewski, Przem Kowalczuk and Jan Drzymala
In 1967, Dr. Laskowski obtained a Leverhulme Trust Post-Doctoral Fellowship and in 1967/68 spent one year as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Joseph Kitchener at the Department of Mineral Technology, Imperial College, London. When Kitchener retired he edited jointly with Prof. John Ralston the volume Colloid Chemistry in Mineral Processing in his honour. The book was published by Elsevier in 1992.
Dr. Laskowski was an associate professor of mineral processing at the Silesian University of Technology until 1973 when he was appointed professor of mineral processing at the Wroclaw Technical University, Wroclaw, Poland.
In 1971/72, he was a visiting professor and taught several courses at the University of Chile in Santiago, and was invited by Prof. Fernando Concha to spend a month with the University of Concepcion, where he updated his own book, which had been published in Poland in 1969. The book was translated into Spanish, and published by the University of Concepcion in 1974 (Fundamentos Fisicoquimios de la Mineralurgia). Collaboration established with several Chilean researchers has survived up to this time.     
             Janusz and Fernando Concha relaxing in Concepcion during the
          3rd Latin-American Congress on Froth Flotation, November, 1994
Janusz attended his first International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC) in Prague in 1970, and has attended every one since then. 
IMPC reception in Prague in 1970.
Janusz and Barbara Laskowski with Douglas Fuerstenau’s wife, Peggy
In 1979, he chaired the 13th IMPC in Warsaw, the last IMPC run with simultaneous translation into four official languages (English, French, German and Russian). It was at this Congress that he first met Prof. Jan Miller, of the University of Utah, who writes: “…my first meeting with Janusz and his wife, Barbara, was the occasion of the 1979 IMPC, the first and only IMPC held in Poland.  In those days international travel, especially to Poland, was not so easy, but the meeting was a great success. After the meeting Janusz had invited me to visit for a couple of days at his institute in Wroclaw, and so I did, traveling by train from Warsaw.  There we met with Professor Franciszek Letowski and Professor Fathi Habashi. 
In front of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Metallurgy of Rare Earth Elements,
Wroclaw Technical University, 1979, Janusz (right) with
Franciszek Letowski, Fathi Habashi and Jan Miller
As is usually the case with Janusz, we had interesting discussions, both technical discussions and political discussions, during the visit.  Because of the visit to the institute, I was unaware that my visa to Poland had expired, making me a bit anxious.  We had to appear before the authorities to explain my naiveté and that there was no subversive intent.  Finally, only with Janusz’s typical persuasion did the authorities grant a visa extension and my return to the U.S. seemed possible.  Departure from Wroclaw, however, was not without one additional experience.  Arrangements had been made to put me on a night train to Warsaw, a sleeper car to be shared with three others.  Little did I know that the three other occupants would be three babuszkas, one of whom snored all night as I tried to sleep on my way to Warsaw.  So, my first meeting with Janusz was an interesting experience for a young man attending his first IMPC”. 
Prof. Miller continued “This first meeting was followed by many other occasions when I had the pleasure to enjoy the company of Janusz and Barbara, frequently at IMPC meetings such as the meeting at Dresden in 1991 and the IXth Balkan Mineral Processing Congress at Istanbul in 2001.  Of course, the Istanbul meeting was memorable.   Our wives, Barbara and Patricia, enjoyed shopping at the Grand Bazaar with Nanette, Cyril O’Connor’s wife, until we learned of the horrendous terrorist attacks, especially the World Trade Center complex in New York, and the corresponding devastation.  Of course, all Delta flights were cancelled and return to the U.S. was delayed for 3 days, only then being able to return to JFK airport on Turkish Airlines”.
In the 80’s Prof. Douglas Fuerstenau moved into the area of fine coal beneficiation and in 1981 he invited Janusz to join him as a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Doug’s invitation came in a critical period of Polish history when military government silenced the Solidarity Trade Union. As a result, after one year with Berkeley University, Janusz moved north to Canada, where in 1982 he was appointed Professor of Mineral Processing in the Department of Mining and Mineral Process Engineering, University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Through this appointment, he joined forces with Profs. Jan Leja, George Poling, and Andrew Mular and created one of the world’s strongest mineral processing and coal preparation programs. When Professor Leja retired after 20 years with the University of British Columbia, he edited a volume Frothing in Flotation in his honour (published by Gordon and Breach in 1989). This book turned out to be the first volume in a series of publications; Frothing in Flotation II, edited jointly with E.T. Woodburn, which was published by Gordon and Breach in 1998; Frothing in Flotation III, edited jointly with C.T. O’Connor and J.P. Franzidis, appeared as a special issue of International Journal of Mineral Processing, Vol. 64, Nos. 2-3 (2002).
The two sabbatical leaves from the University of British Columbia he spent with Prof. Jean Cases’s Surface Chemistry Group at Ecole Nationale Superieure de Geologie, Nancy, France in 1987/88, and with the Department of Chemical Engineering of the University of Cape Town in 1996. 
Celebration of Janusz’s 60th birthday on Cape of Good Hope during his
6-month sabbatical with UCT in 1996.
Cyril and Nanette O’Connor (left), J-P and Ross Franzidis, Barbara and Janusz
Janusz and Barbara testing South African wines on Cape Town beaches in 1996
Farewell to Cape Town in 1996; Janusz, Ross and J-P. Franzidis,Barbara, and Dee Bradshaw
In 1995, he initiated a new series of UBC-McGill international symposia on Fundamentals of Mineral Processing and chaired the first Symposium on Processing of Hydrophobic Minerals and Fine Coal, in Vancouver. He chaired the 3rd and 5th Symposia and edited the Proceedings, and then in 2006, the Metallurgical Society of Canadian Institution of Mining organized the 6th UBC-McGill-University of Alberta international symposium on Interfacial Phenomena in Fine Particle Technology in his honour and this led to publication of a special issue of the Canadian Metallurgical Quarterly, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2007.
With Prof. David Boger he co-chaired the Engineering Foundation Conference on Rheology in the Mineral Industry in San Diego, in February, 1997 and co-chaired the 2nd conference in the series in Hawaii in March, 1999.
Along with Dr. J. Drelich, Janusz co-chaired the Symposium Apparent and Microscopic Contact Angles held in conjunction with the 216th National American Chemical Society Meeting, Boston, in 1998, and jointly with J. Drelich and K.J. Mittal edited the conference volume, published by VSP in 2000. His monograph on Coal Flotation and Fine Coal Utilization was published by Elsevier in 2001. 
21st IMPC in Rome in 2000. Janusz and Barbara with their Chilean friends: Sergio Castro (left) and his wife,
and Osvaldo Bascur (right) with his wife
At the Centenary of Flotation conference in Brisbane in 2005,
with Profs. Kari Heiskanen and Douglas Fuerstenau
Prof. Laskowski retired from the University of British Columbia in 2001. He has been a huge contributor to our profession and in 2008 he received the highest accolade of the IMPC’s Lifetime Achievement Award, at the Beijing IMPC and in 2011, the SME’s Antoine Gaudin Memorial Award.
Janusz with Profs. Cyril O’Connor, Jacques Astier, Douglas Fuerstenau and Eric Forssberg
after being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Beijing, 2008

With Prof. Roe-Hoan Yoon in Denver in 2011 with his Gaudin Award

Flotation ’15, Cape Town, with fellow Gaudin Award winners Profs. Nag Nagaraj, Graeme Jameson and Jim Finch
Janusz has been involved in flotation research for over 50 years and he feels that the most important developments in flotation technology have been:
  • The development of xanthates as collectors in flotation of sulfides;
  • Introduction of flotation as a main beneficiation process for processing of non-sulfide ores (e.g. phosphate ores, iron ores, coal, potash ores etc.);
  • Development of the concept of critical coalescence concentration to characterize the flotation properties of frothers;
  • The development of flotation columns;
  • The development of fluidised-bed flotation technology.
As to the future of flotation, in his opinion the most important areas that should be targeted are the processing of rare earth ores and flotation in seawater.

I have mentioned retirement to Janusz many times, but he is emphatic that he will never fully retire from a profession that he loves. He is a very fit man who visits a fitness centre daily, and he swims and cycles. He is a proud family man, he and Barbara having two sons, Kornel, who has a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and his younger brother Cyprian, who has a PhD from the University of Edinburgh.
Barbara and Janusz with sons Cyprian (left) and Kornel
It has been fascinating talking to Janusz about his long life and career, and hopefully he will continue to be a major player in mineral processing for many more years to come.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Who said cricket was boring?

When Groucho Marx was taken to a cricket match at Lords in 1954 he said "what a wonderful cure for insomnia. If you can't sleep here, you really need an analyst".  How times have changed!
Today was a wonderful sunny day in Cornwall, ideal for walking the cliffs or cycling around Falmouth, but I did what I thought I would never do- spend 10 hours glued to the TV to watch a drama unfold. It was of course the incredible World Cup Final between England and New Zealand, which England won by the finest of margins.
Well done England, and many commiserations New Zealand- it must rank as one of the greatest games ever played.
And I believe there was also a major tennis final today- sorry I missed that.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

IOM3 Futers Gold Medal to Gekko's Sandy Gray

On behalf of all of us at MEI I would like to congratulate Sandy Gray on his recent award of the IOM3 Futers Gold Medal, for outstanding services to the international minerals industry.
Sandy, Managing Director of Gekko Systems, Australia, presented a keynote lecture at Physical Separation '17 in Falmouth. In that year he was a finalist for the Austmine Champion of Innovation Award. He also received the AusIMM 2017 Professional Excellence Award, and in Denver in February 2017 was inducted into International Mining Technology's Hall of Fame.
Sandy (right) at Physical Separation '17 in Falmouth, relaxing with Nick Wilshaw,
Simon Hille, Mike Battersby and Tim Napier-Munn
Since co-founding Gekko, Sandy has rejuvenated the art of continuous gravity separation and he has become a world leader in low energy and pre-concentration flowsheets encompassing gravity methods, flotation, concentrate leaching for the gold and silver sector. He invented many of Gekko's patented systems including the InLine Pressure Jig, G-Rex Resin Exchange and the Python Processing Plant. His inventions are breakthroughs in the field of mineral processing, with over 600 installations at mines in 43 different countries. It was a pleasure and honour to interview Sandy and his wife Elizabeth for MEI back in 2015.
Elizabeth and Sandy receiving the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2005
Twitter @barrywills

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Process mineralogy of unconventional mineral deposits

Process mineralogy is now well established in the minerals industry, being used to solve problems and challenges in the mineral processing plant and contribute to increased value of ore concentrates produced. However, how can process mineralogy be used on unconventional mineral deposits?
This is the question that will be posed by Dr Kurt Aasly, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in his keynote lecture at next year's Process Mineralogy '20 conference in Cape Town.
Dr. Aasly describes “unconventional mineral deposits” as non-metallic industrial mineral deposits and construction materials, but also metallic deposits in the deep sea, which includes sea floor massive sulphides deposits and polymetallic manganese nodules.
The presentation will include case studies and emphasise important parameters for different deposit types that should be included when studying mineral deposits where grades are at different scales than for many metallic ores. Examples include quartz deposits where quartz constitutes more than 98 % of the mineralization and rather than quartz grades, the maximum content of critical impurities are of importance. Other important aspects for quartz deposits could be thermo-mechanical strengths, which are crucial for optimal furnace operation. Similarly, production of calcite concentrates for calcium carbonate fillers for the paper industry are mostly concerned with the whiteness of the final concentrate rather than the calcite grades in feed and concentrate. Often, concentrate whiteness and calcite grade may show a correlation, the calcite grade not merely being a result of the content of any mineral impurity.
During recent decades, more and more attention has been given to the potential ore deposits in the deep sea, but few studies has been carried out on the mineralogical and textural implications for mineral processing of such ores. Onshore mining has been exploiting the ancient sea floor massive sulphides but will the “fresh” deposits behave similarly in the mineral processing plant?
Kurt Aasly has experience as an exploration geologist for base metals and gold in Norway and Greenland. His Ph.D. project was “Properties and behaviour of quartz for silicon process.” He continued his work related to quartz between 2008 and 2012. Since 2012 he has been an associate professor at the Department of Geoscience and Petroleum at NTNU, his main field of research and teaching being process mineralogy and geometallurgy, with industrial minerals and iron oxides being the main focus. Kurt is currently spending a one year sabbatical as Visiting Academic at the JKMRC in Brisbane, Australia.
We are pleased to welcome Kurt to his 3rd MEI Process Mineralogy conference, and we also welcome FLSmidth as our latest major sponsor, joining Zeiss, and our media partner International Mining.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Record number of abstracts results in exciting programme for Flotation '19

A record number of papers has been submitted to Flotation '19, which will be held at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town in November, and the provisional programme is now available
The Vineyard Hotel Conference Centre
The programme truly reflects the progressive evolution of flotation, the mining industry's most ubiquitous and important technology. From its inception at the beginning of last century to treat fine-grained sulphide minerals, developments in reagents and machines have led to flotation being established as the standard method of concentrating an increasingly wide range of minerals.
As we move into the 4th Industrial Revolution and the era of electric cars and 5G, never before has there been such a demand on the supply of finite resources, and flotation will play a very important future role in the quest for a circular economy, not only in treating primary ores, but also in secondary resources such as mine waste.
Around 150 papers will be presented in November, in short oral, and poster presentations, in two discrete symposia, Fundamentals during the first two days and Applications over the final two days.
Although a very intensive programme, there will be, as always, plenty of time for networking with the world's leading practitioners, at the late afternoon sundowners, and the conference dinner at the nearby Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, as well as in the long coffee and lunch breaks in the exhibition and poster areas.

Networking at Flotation '17
Registration for the conference is now open and we look forward to hosting another successful event in Cape Town, and thank once more our sponsors for their support.
The latest updates can be found at #Flotation19.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Minerals Engineering consolidates its position as the world's #1 mineral processing journal

Although not a great fan of Impact Factor (IF), it was good to see that the IF for Minerals Engineering has leapt from 2.707 in 2017 to last year's figure of 3.315, way ahead of any of the other journals in this field.
Minerals Engineering  (3.315)
Minerals (2.25)
Mineral Processing & Extractive Metallurgy Review (1.615)
International Journal of Minerals Metallurgy & Materials (1.221)
Physicochemical  Problems of Mineral Processing (1.062)
Canadian Metallurgical Quarterly (0.789)
Minerals and Metallurgical Processing (0.784)
Since its merger with International Journal of Mineral Processing in 2018 with a completely new Editorial structure (posting of 22 January 2018) the journal has gone from strength to strength. In 2018 a record 1421 papers were submitted to the journal, of which 965 were rejected, a rejection rate of 71%.  43% of the papers submitted were from China, reflecting the significance of this vast country in current and future mineral processing research.  Australia, the 2nd most prolific country accounted for only 6.5% of papers submitted. However, only 16% of the Chinese papers were accepted for publication, compared with 66% from Australia, highlighting that China still has some way to go in preparation of papers for publication.
Downloads from ScienceDirect truly reflect a journal's usage, and last year there was a record of over 655,000 downloads of articles, a truly awesome figure. China and Australia were the most prolific downloaders, accounting for 27% and 7% respectively.
ScienceDirect Usage
Top 5 Countries in 2018
As Editor-in-Chief I am naturally very proud of the journal's world #1 status, and 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.
Here's to further gains in 2019!