Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Farewell to Africa until 2020

Barbara and I are now back in Cape Town after a wonderful few days in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland, impressed as ever by the friendliness of the people, despite the country's economic woes, which were certainly not evident at Victoria Falls, the country's premier tourist destination.
Our last two days were spent relaxing at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, which has a unique way of disposing of kitchen and restaurant left-overs and carcasses, by feeding them to hundreds of vultures each day. It's an amazing sight to see these raptors, which have been waiting patiently in nearby trees, swoop in and push and jostle with each other as they tear at the bloody pieces. Within 10 minutes it is all over, the birds disperse leaving only the bones, which are disposed of during the night by the hyenas.
The vultures arrive for lunch
Joined by Marabou Storks
For a feeding frenzy
Wild Africa's contribution to the circular economy is just one of the many reasons to visit Southern Africa's jewel in the crown. Apart from the magnificent waterfall, which we did not visit this time, the area teems with wildlife and is host to the 'Big Five': black rhino, lion, elephant, leopard and buffalo, originally named by big game hunters as the most difficult and dangerous to hunt on foot. Just before nightfall we were lucky to spot one of the most elusive and endangered of the Big Five, a black rhino with her calf, thanks to our expert tracker and guide, Charlie.
Bush braai with Charlie (right) and his trainee guides
You never know who you are going to bump into when travelling, and this time it was the IMPC's Robin Batterham, and his partner Anna, off on an excursion to the falls. 
We travelled to Victoria Falls from Pretoria on the luxurious Rovos train, a fabulous three day journey which impressed us so much that I will publish a travelogue in a week or so, as some of next year's conference delegates might be interested in doing something similar. 
The long journey back to Cornwall starts tomorrow, and we are already thinking ahead to next year in Cape Town. 
In February we will be at the Convention Centre for Mining Indaba 2020, then a couple of months later back for Comminution '20 at the Vineyard.
In October we will be back at the Vineyard for Hi-Tech Metals '20 and Process Mineralogy '20, and then on to the Convention Centre for IMPC 2020.
We look forward to seeing many of you in South Africa's Mother City.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Kimberley: South Africa's historic diamond city

Barbara and I had a quick pit-stop in Kimberley in 1969, en route from Cape Town to Johannesburg, but did not have time to visit the museum or the famous 'Big Hole'.  We stopped here again on Monday and Tuesday of this week, after our 10 days in Cape Town for Flotation '19, and this time we did get the chance to explore this historic area, where Cecil Rhodes made his fortune and the De Beers Company was born.
The first diamonds here were found by Erasmus Jacobs on Colesberg Kopje on the farm Vooruitzigt belonging to the De Beers brothers, in 1871. The ensuing scramble for claims led to the place being called New Rush, later renamed Kimberley in 1873. From mid-July 1871 to 1914 up to 50,000 miners dug the hole with picks and shovels, yielding 2,720 kg (13,600,000 carats) of diamonds. The Big Hole is 463 metres wide. It was excavated to a depth of 240 metres, but then partially infilled with debris reducing its depth to about 215 metres. Since then it has accumulated about 40 metres of water, leaving 175 metres of the hole visible.
Big hole Kimberley
In 1872, one year after digging started, the population of the camp of diggers grew to around 50,000. As digging progressed, many men met their deaths in mining accidents. The unsanitary conditions, scarcity of water and fresh vegetables as well as the intense heat in the summer, also took their toll (the temperature was in the mid 30s yesterday in late spring).
Kimberley 1872
On 13 March 1888 the leaders of the various mines decided to amalgamate the separate diggings into one big mine and one big company known as De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, with life governors such as Cecil John Rhodes, Alfred Beit, and Barney Barnato. This huge company further worked on the Big Hole until it reached a depth of 215 metres and perimeter of 1.6 kilometres. By 14 August 1914, when over 22 million tons of earth had been excavated, yielding 3,000 kg (14,504,566 carats) of diamonds, work on the mine ceased after it was considered the largest hand-dug excavation on earth. By 2005, however, it was reported that a researcher had re-examined mine records and found that the hand-dug portions of the Jagersfontein and Bultfontein diamond mines, also in South Africa, may have been deeper and/or larger in excavated volume.
Once above-ground operations became too dangerous and unproductive, the kimberlite pipe of the Kimberley Mine was also mined underground by Cecil Rhodes' De Beers company to a depth of 1,097 metres.

Today, the Big Hole and its surrounds have been converted into a museum and there is a fascinating reconstruction of the ‘Old Town’ at the big hole that gives visitors an idea of what it was like to live there back in the town’s heydays of the late 1800s.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Relaxing in Cape Town

After a very busy week, with a record attendance at Flotation '19, we are now relaxing for a few days at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town's quiet Claremont suburb. It has been a great week with a great crowd of people and we thank all those who have sent us very kind comments, which we much appreciate.

The Vineyard Gardens
You never know who you are going to bump into at the Vineyard, one of Cape Town's most popular hotels, but it was a surprise to see Prof. Eric Forssberg and his wife Ebba, who had called in for lunch on the terrace. Eric has been involved with the International Mineral Processing Council meeting which has been taking place in Cape Town this week.

It has been a cloudy week due to Table Mountain being covered by its famous "tablecloth", which spills spectacularly down the mountain slope on the city side of the mountain, but is often denser and wetter on the eastern slopes facing Claremont and Newlands.
We took a short 'Uber' ride into the city and got a great view of the tablecloth via the Cape Town Wheel on the waterfront.  Claremont is on the other side of the mountain on the left.
Uber is the way to get around Cape Town, efficient, cheap and safe, so I would recommend that you install the App before coming to a Cape Town conference. A favourite return trip is to Camp's Bay, one of the city's most beautiful beaches. We took an Uber to Sea Point this afternoon, then walked the 6 km to Camp's Bay, for a late lunch in one of the resorts many restaurants, before Ubering back to the Vineyard.
Camp's Bay
Amanda and Jon are now back in Cornwall, but Barbara and I fly to the diamond town of Kimberley tomorrow, then on to Pretoria, where we take the train to Zimbabwe, up through Matabeleland to Victoria Falls. The report on Flotation '19 will have to wait a couple of weeks!

Friday, 15 November 2019

Flotation '19: the final day

Time has flown by and sadly today is the day we must say au revoir to all our delegates.
A last chance also to take a final look at the exhibit booths, where there has been a lot of activity over the four days.

Fangli Zhou has represented Chinese company Kopper Chemical Industry, who specialise in copper flotation, particularly in difficult to float oxide ores. She is pictured below with Lian Cao of University of Queensland and Jianyong He, of Central South University, China.

Sam Ayoub (left in photo below) is from Continental Engineering Services, Australia, a subsidiary of French company Continental Industrie, which manufactures multistage centrifugal blowers specially designed for flotation applications

Gold Ore is a new company, sponsoring an MEI conference for the first time, and represented by Adrian Singh (left below). Gold Ore markets the patented and proprietary MACH Reactor technology which is a cavitation unit that generates picobubbles that nucleate on hydrophobic particles, this concept of particles giving birth to bubbles being the key to the improved flotation of fine to ultrafine particles. 

Last month I was in Germany, visiting the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg, a constituent part of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, so I was pleased to see so many of them in Cape Town.

Passing by the booth of conference sponsor Zeiss, I saw Zeiss representative Ania Botha in conversation with Kari Heiskanen and Graeme Jameson.

Clariant is also a sponsor, and Shani Engelbrecht was in conversation with a number of delegates.

Finally, passing by the Maelgwyn Minerals Services booth, I was pleased to see Jon, and Mike Battersby sealing MMS's sponsorship of Flotation '21. Then a few minutes later, shaking on the same deal with Chris Greet of regular sponsors Magotteaux.

Over the past few days, Chris Greet of Magotteaux and MEI's consultant Jim Finch, aided in no small way by Jim's wife Lois, have been judging the student poster presentations. 

After much deliberation, the prizes of the 2nd edition of the AusIMM's Flotation Plant Optimisation, edited by Chris Greet, were awarded for the best displays in each symposium. 

The fundamentals award was to Wonder Chimonyo, of University of Queensland, for his paper on the effect of structure features of oxidised starches on the depression of chalcopyrite and graphite. 

The applications award was made to Bruno Michaux, of Helmholtz Institute Freiberg, Germany, for his paper on the simulation of flotation plant performance under varying process water consumption. 

Bruno, Chris and Wonder

Glencore Technology also presented a prize of an iPad to Benjamin Kalokoni, of Axis House, South Africa, as a result of a survey carried out at their Sunday workshop. Reactor/separator cells such as the Jameson Cell have been shown to have a smaller footprint and less residence time than conventional cells,  but take-up of the new type is still modest.  The old column cell or tank cell is still a popular choice. The survey basically asked the question "why"?

Benjamin with Glencore's Virginia Lawson
Winding up the conference, Jim Finch gave his usual excellent summary, after which MEI's Amanda Wills closed the conference, inviting everyone back to the Vineyard for Flotation '21, from November 8-11, 2021, and to the Vineyard gardens for a final top-up of wine.

An unusual sight - light rain at the final sundowner
We have had a great 4 days- hope you have too, and we welcome your feedback.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Flotation '19: Applications Symposium Day 1

Yesterday we said goodbye to the 16 delegates registered only for the fundamentals symposium, and this morning MEI's Jon Wills welcomed the 29 new delegates for the applications symposium.
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 were highlighted by Jan Nesset, of NesseTech Consulting Services Inc, Canada, in his keynote lecture this morning.
Jan's keynote was followed by 19 presentations, which will be covered in more detail in the conference final report in a few weeks time.
The sun was shining today, and the two representatives from Bindura Nickel's Trojan mine in Zimbabwe, Chawo Nkhoma and Itayi Marufu, were enjoying the view of Table Mountain from the conference centre. I was interested to hear that Chawo was a student at the University of Zimbabwe in 1988 when I presented a guest lecture! 
Chawo and Itayi
Delegates also made use of the improving weather during the long lunch break and, as in the last two days, there was a lot of interest in the poster displays, the fundamentals posters having been replaced by applications. 
The exhibition was also a hive of activity during the coffee and lunch breaks, and also at the evening sundowner where wine was substituted for coffee and tea around the exhibits. 
I looked in on the Process IQ booth, where Brian Whitehead and Adrian Paine were describing their products to Nora Schreithofer and Laurianne Le of Aalto University. Process IQ is an Australian Mining Equipment and Technology Services company focused on Advanced Process Solutions. Several of Process IQ’s technologies include the MillSlicer (Advanced Mill Measurement Instrumentation), MillStar & FloatStar Advanced Control Systems, and MillROC – Milling Remote Optimisation Consulting.
Brian, Adrian, Nora and Laurianne
It was good to welcome a number of visitors today. Diana Drinkwater is over from Australia as a representative of the International Mineral Processing Council, which is meeting in Cape Town this week.
Diana with Virginia Lawson and Stephen Johnson of Glencore
We had two sundowner visitors from nearby UCT. Megan Becker is MEI Consultant to Process Mineralogy '20, which will be held at the Vineyard next October, immediately prior to the Cape Town IMPC.
Aubrey Mainza is much involved with the IMPC organisation, and is consultant to Comminution '20 in April at the Vineyard.
Aubrey (3rd right) at the sundowner
And visiting the Outotec booth were the company's biohydrometallurgy specialists, Jan van Niekerk and Waldemar Olivier, photographed in the Outotec booth with Angie Voges. Jan was a keynote speaker at Biohydromet '16 in Falmouth, and both he and Waldemar hope to be at Biomining '20, also in Falmouth.
Outotec's Waldemar, Angie an Jan

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Day 2 at Flotation '19

Another long day with 20 presentations in the two technical sessions, but as always, plenty of time to mingle with the exhibitors, and view the posters. 
The first coffee break started well for us when conference sponsor Metso agreed to sponsor our next conference in Cape Town, Comminution '20.
Pauline Choshane and Jon seal agreement on Metso's sponsorship of Comminution '20
Turkish company USK Kimya A.Sis one of the leading developers and manufacturers of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and polyanionic cellulose (PAC), specialising in development and production of different types of CMC and PAC. The company is represented at the conference by Belma Sonmez, who is pictured (centre) below talking to Romke Kuyvenhoven and Kari Heiskanen.
It's great to have six representatives from Katanga Mining Limited, which operates a large-scale copper-cobalt mine complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through two joint ventures, Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) and DRC Copper and Cobalt Project (DCP). The KCC joint venture produced its first copper cathode in December 2007. I was pleased to hear that one of the delegates, Andrew Molloy, has degree in mining geology and an MSc in mineral processing from Camborne School of Mines.
Also good to see Pavel Milenky and Yaarit Boker, from ICl Rotem Amfert, our first ever delegates from Israel at a flotation conference. ICL is a world leader in specialty fertilizers, bromine and flame retardants. It produces approximately a third of the world’s bromine, and is the world’s sixth largest potash producer, as well as one of its leading providers of pure phosphoric acid.
Yaarit and Pavel
Back in the exhibition I caught up with the Maelgwyn Mineral Services (MMS) team, who were talking to Martyn Hay of Eurus Mineral Consultants. MMS is a regular sponsor of MEI's flotation and comminution conferences and will be back in Cape Town next April for Comminution '20.
Martyn Hay (2nd right) with the MMS team
With around 290 delegates, the overflow room is proving to be popular, as always. Here delegates can hear and see the presentations which are live-streamed from the main conference room, and can move freely in and out of the room, and catch up with work with an ear to the presentations.
Despite Table Mountain being obscured by cloud all day, I think most delegates appreciated a break away from the conference atmosphere with a fine evening dinner and entertainment at the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.