Thursday, 30 July 2020

Sad news of the death of popular mineral processor Dan Alexander

We had some extremely sad news this morning of the sudden passing on Wednesday of Dr. Dan Alexander, a very popular figure who will be well known to many in our profession. He was only 48 years old.
Dan was Head of Technology Development at Anglo American, UK. Prior to that he was with the JKTech in Australia for over 14 years, from 2000-2015, where he was initially Operations Manager, and latterly CEO for 5 years.
He was a good friend of all of us at MEI, and a regular at MEI Conferences, particularly flotation, where he attended all but one of the conferences in the series. 
Dan (2nd left) at Flotation '09, with other well known mineral processors who had attended all MEI's flotation series:
Graeme Jameson, Jim Finch, Antonio Peres, Stephen Neethling and Dee Bradshaw
Last year he was also in Falmouth, for Physical Separation '19, and in the photo below he is with his close friend Dr. Ben Adair, CEO and Managing Director of CRC Ore, Australia, and a former Director of the JKMRC.
Ben and Dan in Falmouth
Dan relaxing with John Willis, of SRK Consulting at Physical Separation '19
Ben writes "Dan often spoke fondly and thought very highly of MEI and the conferences you run. We loved being at the The Falmouth conference last year - it was a real highlight for both of us.
Dan was not only a very gifted mineral processor in his own right, but he also had an outstanding vision of the future directions needed for step change in energy, water, and productivity in the industry. 
He was the author and main advocate for Anglo American’s Concentrating the Mine innovation initiatives. No one agitated more for change and a more sustainable future for mining going forward. He was also, of course deeply committed to his wife Suzi and their young son James. A true family man in every sense of the word.
I lost one of my closest friends yesterday, but I also know his loss will be keenly felt by so many of our colleagues. He was also a true friend of MEI. Thank you for thinking of him and any tributes you give him will be deeply appreciated by all his friends".
We will deeply miss Dan, not only for stimulating discussion on mineral processing, but for his views on subjects outside our industry, particularly cricket, which he played at a high level in Australia. 
Our thoughts are very much with his family at this difficult time.

Pendeen Lighthouse to Levant Mine

The glorious stretch of coast path in Cornwall's Penwith Peninsula (or the Land's End Peninsula) is not only an area of outstanding natural beauty, but is also of great interest because of its important tin and copper mining history and legacy.
The small village of Pendeen has three excellent pubs, an indication of this once being a thriving mining community, serving the mines in the St. Just District. There is an excellent 4-mile circular walk from the village to the Pendeen Watch Lighthouse, and then along the coast path to the famous Levant Mine, which closed in 1930, eleven years after the tragic man-engine disaster (MEI Blog 20th October 2019).

Pendeen Lighthouse, also known as Pendeen Watch is an active aid to navigation, and was commissioned in 1900. This whole stretch of coastline, with its jagged rocks lying just below the surface of the water, has caused many a problem to passing vessels, one notorious area being that around Gurnard's Head, a headland a few miles further towards St Ives.
The walk along the coastal path from the lighthouse to Levant Mine is only 1.6 miles but allow around 45 minutes as there are a few ups and downs along the way, but nothing severe, the elevation gain being only around 280 ft.

Approaching the St. Just Mining District
Ruins of the Geevor and Levant mines
Looking back to distant Pendeen Lighthouse
The Levant Mine
From Levant, you can walk back to Pendeen along the road, but I would suggest that if time permits you continue along the coastal path for just under a mile to the iconic ruins of the Botallack Mine and the region of Cornwall's submarine mines (MEI Blog 20 October 2014). There is probably a no better historical mining walk anywhere in the world.

Monday, 27 July 2020

New Book: Physical Separation and Enrichment

This book is a printed edition of the Special Issue Physical Separation and Enrichment that was published in the open access journal Minerals. The book includes 12 papers from around the world on topics related to physical separation and enrichment in mineral processing and is edited by Saeed Farrokhpay, a very familiar face at MEI Conferences. Last year he presented work at Physical Separation '19 in Falmouth and Flotation '19 in Cape Town.
Saeed (centre) at Flotation '17 with his colleagues from the Université de Lorraine, France, Lev Filippov and Inna Filippova

Print copies of the book are available for order

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Colorado: the beautiful home of the SME

Coronavirus permitting, my next venture out of Cornwall will be next February for the Annual Meeting of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) in Denver. The "mile-high city" is the home of the SME, its headquarters being in the suburb of Littleton.
I first attended an SME Meeting in 1987, held in Denver, and over the years the SME Annual Meeting has become a regular fixture in my diary, and because of it I have had the opportunity of visiting many American cities, but none better than Denver, where the meeting is now held every other year.
Barbara accompanied me to Denver for the first time in 1991, and this was perhaps our most memorable visit, as it gave us the chance to explore beautiful Colorado, and particularly the old mining towns in the Rocky Mountains. It is a magical area and my only regret is that our many visits have been only in winter, as I am sure that summer in Colorado would be equally as stunning.
We arrived at Denver International Airport in February 1991 totally exhausted!  In the previous week we had been in Singapore for Minerals Engineering '91 (MEI Blog 20 February 2011). After a 14 hour flight to Heathrow, we transferred to Gatwick Airport for the 10 hour flight to Denver, a total of 15 time zones.
We were with Phil Newall, of CSM Associates, the organisers of Minerals Engineering '91, and in Denver we met up with Nigel Powell and Connor Spollen, of Camborne School of Mines. Nigel was a lecturer in mathematics and Connor a final year student. Connor's final year project, supervised by me and Nigel had led to a paper which Nigel would present at the SME Meeting.
At the Paramount Cafe, Denver, with Nigel, Connor and Phil

As this was the first time that Barbara, Phil, Nigel and Connor had visited USA, we had set aside a week after the meeting to explore the Rocky Mountains area close to Denver.

A visit to Golden gave us the chance to see the "other CSM", the Colorado School of Mines, and to spend a memorable evening with Errol and Jan Kelly. Errol was a visiting Professor from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and a co-author with David Spottiswood, of Colorado SoM, of the text-book Introduction to Mineral Processing, which had been published 9 years earlier.
Golden, and the Colorado School of Mines
In Golden with Errol Kelly (centre) and his wife Jan
From Golden we travelled to Colorado Springs to the Garden of the Gods, with its towering red sandstone rock formations against a background of snow-capped 4,302 m high Pikes Peak.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
In the background is Pikes Peak
Then on to Central City, a historic mining settlement founded in 1859 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, and which came to be known as the "richest square mile on earth" a soubriquet shared by the Gwennap copper mining district of Cornwall (MEI Blog 27 October 2018).
Central City
Stamp Mills- a reminder of the mining legacy
Crossing the Continental Divide we spent our last few days in the Summit County ski resort of Copper Mountain, debut skiing for Barbara, Nigel and Connor, and only my 2nd venture on skis.
With Connor, Nigel and Phil at Copper Mountain
1990s ski fashions on display at Copper Mountain
So impressed were we with the snow, lifts and people at Copper Mountain that in all our subsequent travels to Denver for the SME Meeting we have always found time to take the Colorado Express shuttle from the airport into the Rockies, and have based ourselves in the lovely old Victorian town of Breckenridge. The town was founded in the mid 19th century to serve the miners working rich placer gold deposits along the Blue River, hard rock mining soon following as the prospectors followed the gold source to its veins in the hills.
Breckenridge main street
One of the old alluvial gold dredges, now converted into a restaurant
The skiing at Breckenridge is superb and for those of you who might visit I published my favourite route in the posting of 27 February 2015.
Barbara skiing down to Breckenridge with the Continental Divide in the background
So for those of you who are thinking of attending the next SME Meeting, if you love the mountains, mining history and beautiful scenery I would strongly recommend you plan to stay a few days in Colorado. It is magnificent- I just wish that we could see it in summer!

Monday, 20 July 2020

Good news from Australia: 2020 CEEC medal recipients, and Glencore's Covid philanthropy

Two standout research and field work contributions have been awarded the highly respected CEEC Medal for 2020.
CEEC Director and Medal Evaluation Committee Chair Dr Zeljka Pokrajcic said this year’s nominations reflected industry trends to install renewables, consider embodied energy and emissions, and the continued embracing of technologies such as pre-concentration and coarse flotation.
The 2020 recipients are:
For Operations: Peter Lind and Kevin Murray of Biohydromet '21 sponsor Newmont and Alan Boylston and Isaias Arce of Comminution '21 sponsor Metso Outotec, (formerly Metso), for their paper titled “Reducing Energy and Water Consumption through Alternative Comminution Circuits”. This was presented at the 7th SAG Conference in Vancouver, Canada, in 2019.
For Technical Research: Dr Grant Ballantyne, for his paper titled “Quantifying the Additional Energy Consumed by Ancillary Equipment and Embodied in Grinding Media in Comminution Circuits”. This was also presented at the 7th SAG Conference in Vancouver.
Dr Ballantyne, previously a senior research fellow at the JKMRC and now with Ausenco, was the recipient of the 2017 MEI Young Person's Award. He is also an assistant editor for Minerals Engineering. He acknowledged the inspiration and collaboration of Chris Greet (Magotteaux), Evert Lessing (formerly Weir), Malcolm Powell (formerly The University of Queensland) and Greg Lane (Ausenco) for contributing expert input and data to the work.
Grant Ballantyne awarded with the MEI Young Person's Award at Comminution '18
In addition to the two CEEC Medals awarded in 2020, three publications received High Commendations.
Ben Adair, Luke Keeney, and Michael Scott from CRC ORE, and David King from Minera San Cristóbal operations, for their paper titled "Gangue rejection in practice - the implementation of Grade Engineering® at the Minera San Cristóbal Site". This was presented at Physical Separation '19, Falmouth, Cornwall.
Malcolm Powell, Ceren Bozbay, Sarma Kanchibotla, Benjamin Bonfils, Anand Musunuri, Vladimir Jokovic, Marko Hilden, Jace Young and Emrah Yalcin, for their article titled "Advanced Mine-to-Mill Used to Unlock SABC Capacity at the Barrick Cortez Mine". This was presented at the 7th SAG Conference in Vancouver.
Paul Shelley and Ignacio Molina (Molycop) and Dimitrios Patsikatheodorou (Westgold Resources), for their paper titled "SAG mill optimization insights by measuring inside the mill". This was presented at the Procemin-Geomet Conference in Santiago, Chile in 2019.
Full details of the awards are available on the CEEC website and nominations for the 2021 CEEC Medal are now open, the closing date for submissions being 30 October 2021.

And more good news from Australia: Comminution '21 sponsor Glencore has provided a $725,000 funding injection to the University of Queensland’s efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
UQ’s ‘Molecular Clamp’ project uses technology that ensures the vaccine induces an immune response that recognises and then neutralises the virus.
Glencore’s funding comes from the company’s Community Support Fund, set up earlier this year to assist communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Glencore contributed more than $6.4 billion to Queensland’s economy, providing employment for about 9,230 people across its coal, copper and zinc mining operations.

Three US universities launch Tailings Center of Excellence

Some good news from USA, that the University of Arizona, Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Mines have launched the Tailings Center of Excellence, a learning space focused on educating engineers on responsible and sustainable mine waste management and advancing research-backed best practices. Among other tasks, the projects involve providing mine operators with real-time insight regarding water quality, seepage and mechanical stability of tailings storage facilities, something which has been sadly lacking in recent times.
Last year's tailings dam breach at Córrego do Feijão  iron ore mine, Brazil
In parallel, the Tailings Center of Excellence will coordinate closely with the Tailings and Waste Engineering Center, a newly established consortium of faculty from Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Colorado State University.
And AMIRA Global in Australia will be evaluating the safety of tailings storage facilities (TSF)  as part of an upcoming project to assess TSF monitoring systems. The Evaluation of Tailings Storage Facilities Monitoring Technologies will begin this month with eleven sponsors on board.  The research will be completed by a team at The University of Western Australia.

Friday, 17 July 2020

The Cornish Mining Sundowner returns with a party on the beach

After a 5-month gap the Cornish Mining Sundowner burst back to life last night, with a completely different setting. The last sundowner, back in February, was held at Falmouth's Chain Locker pub, which was the scheduled venue for July. The Chain Locker is now back in business, but unfortunately not for 'mass gatherings' such as ours, so on a balmy summer evening it was good to see old friends once more, this time for a 'bring your own' party on Falmouth's Gyllyngvase beach.
No handshakes or hugs of course. The Coronavirus will probably change forever our social greeting etiquette, which is probably not a bad thing. Handshakes, a great way to spread viruses, may be replaced by elbow bumping or simple lifting of the palm and a friendly 'Hi'. Hugging has always been an awkward social exercise- how well do you need to know someone before a handshake graduates to a hug, and should a hug be accompanied by a kiss on the cheek, or maybe a kiss on both cheeks?! Maybe in the new normal this will be the preserve of family members?
The pandemic was, of course, on all minds, and generally everyone has coped well with lockdown, not surprisingly as there cannot be many places in the world more attractive to spend a few months in confinement than Cornwall, which has become noticeably busier over the last couple of weeks as the nation's lockdown eases, and the tourists flock to the area for welcome breaks. CSM graduate Mark Alcock was one of these, down in Cornwall from Essex with his wife, and it was good to see him and reminisce about old times.
Welcome visitor Mark Alcock (right) with sundowner regulars
Current CSM Mining Engineering students with 1974 graduate Nick Clarke, mining lecturer Pat Foster and me

Those still gainfully employed are mostly working from home, and among those retired, former Elsevier Publishing Manager for Minerals Engineering, Dean Eastbury has been working for a local pharmacy in Hayle, delivering prescription medicines to those shielding at home- good on you Dean.

Dean Eastbury with Barbara Wills
There was not a great deal of mining talk last night. Recently (MEI Blog 16th April) Strongbow Exploration, who are planning reopening of the South Crofty tin mine, announced another significant new discovery of high grade copper and tin at its United Downs exploration project. Lucy Crane (right in photo below) of Cornish Lithium, said that more test drilling is planned following the completion of the South Crofty test drilling which started in June. To reflect its commitment to mining in Cornwall Strongbow Exploration changed its name to Cornish Metals Inc in July.
Last night's sundowner was probably one of the best, partly due to the setting and the weather, but more likely a very welcome change from sitting in front of a computer screen and attending Zoom meetings. Everyone agreed that getting back to social interaction was a welcome relief from the restrictions of the pandemic, and that we should do this again. So next month's sundowner will once again be on Gylly Beach, 5.30pm on August 20th. We hope to see you there!

Monday, 13 July 2020

The Luxulyan Valley in the heart of East Cornwall's China Clay District

The St. Austell region is Cornwall's China Clay district, the area being dominated by the impressive sharp peaks of mine waste, known locally as the "Cornish Alps". China Clay, or kaolin, is decomposed granite and was first used in China over 10,000 years ago to make fine white porcelain. 
The "Cornish Alps" (Photo: The Cornwall Guide)
By the early 19th century the St. Austell deposits were the largest in the world and many other uses had been found for the clay, such as in paper, paint and rubber goods. By 1910 Cornwall produced around half of the world's china clay and in 1919 the three main producers merged as English China Clay, which was bought by the French company Imerys in 1999. The company moved most of its operations to Brazil in the early part of this century and there are now fewer than 2000 employees left in Cornwall.
The legacy of China Clay still defines this region, however, with one of Cornwall's major tourist attractions, the Eden Project, sitting in a former china clay pit. 
Biohydromet '12 delegates at the Eden Project
The Eden Project is only a 30 mile drive from Falmouth, and well worth a visit to its two iconic biomes, but if you would also like to take in a beautiful 4 mile woodland walk, with the added bonus of seeing some 19th century mine ruins, then include the Luxulyan Valley on your day out, as it is only a couple of miles from the Eden Project.
The River Par rises near Roche and flows through the China Clay areas around Bugle before descending through the Luxulyan Valley then on to the sea at Par. 
The River Par flowing through the Luxulyan Valley
The Luxulyan Valley has a network of walking trails mostly on the routes of 19th century horse-drawn tramways. The tranquil walks through the valley are made the more interesting by the 19th century ruins which led to the area being designated a Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. Most of the structures in the Valley are the result of the imagination and enterprise of Joseph Treffry. Between the 1820s and his death in 1850 Treffry's buildings, tramways and leats transformed the valley into an area of intense industrial activity, associated with granite quarrying, copper and tin mining and china clay and stone production.
19th century tramway
The most impressive structure is the Treffry Viaduct, constructed between 1839 and 1842 from local granite to carry the tramway 27 metres above the valley floor. The first stone viaduct built in Cornwall, it consists of 10 arches spanning 200 metres, and also doubled as an aquaduct, the water channel beneath the railway track sloped to create a steady flow of water, extracted upstream from the River Par, to feed Carmears leat.
Treffry Viaduct
Carmears leat is the upper leat in the valley, and was constructed to supply water to a huge wheelpit, which was brought into service in 1842. The original waterwheel was 30 ft in diameter and was used for hauling wagons up the inclined plane until the 1870s, when the tramway fell into disuse with the building of the Cornwall Minerals Railway. The wheel was then replaced with one of 40 ft diameter and was used until 1908 to drive grinding pans, which ground chunks of quarried partially decomposed granite, known as china stone, to yield a powder similar to china clay. China stone is granite which has partially decomposed, but not all the way to china clay. Porcelain is made by mixing china clay (kaolin) with ground china stone and melting them together in a kiln to form the ceramic. A patent was filed in 1768 for the manufacture of porcelain using entirely Cornish materials, previously this being only available from China.
Looking down at the wheelpit from Carmears leat
The remains of the grinding pans
By the China Clay driers, which operated from the 1920s to the 1960s
If you would like to walk and picnic in the beautiful valley, I would suggest the 4 mile circular walk recommended by iWalk Cornwall, which provides very clear directions.

A glimpse of the sea and the Par estuary from the tramway
More Cornish Walks

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Minerals Engineering soars ahead with a record high Impact Factor

The 2019 journal Impact Factors (IF) are now available, and I am pleased that Minerals Engineering has recorded its highest ever IF, 3.795, up from 3.315 in 2018. The world's leading minerals industry journals, ranked by IF are:
Minerals Engineering  3.795
Hydrometallurgy 3.338
Mineral Processing & Extractive Metallurgy Review 2.785
Minerals 2.380
International Journal of Minerals Metallurgy & Materials 1.713
Canadian Metallurgical Quarterly 1.456
Physicochemical  Problems of Mineral Processing 1.256
Minerals and Metallurgical Processing 1.020
Impact Factor is a measure of the frequency with which the 'average article' in a journal has been cited in a particular year. The website of Minerals Engineering lists the most cited articles over the past three years, the most cited being New approaches for extracting and recovering metals from mine tailings by Falagán, C., Grail, B.M., Johnson, D.B., in Volume 106 (2017). This paper was part of a virtual special issue of papers presented at MEI's Biohydrometallurgy '16 in Falmouth.
Carmen Falagán and Barrie Johnson (right) with other members of the
Bangor University Research Group at Biohydrometallurgy '16

Authors publishing in Elsevier journals such as Minerals Engineering and Hydrometallurgy also have the added bonus of their manuscripts appearing on the world's largest on-line platform, ScienceDirect, from where papers are available for download. Last year well over 600,000 Minerals Engineering downloads were made, the highly cited Falagán et al paper having been downloaded over 19,000 times since its publication. Currently the record for the highest number of overall downloads, a whopping +47,300, is held by Feng Xie, Ting An Zhang, David Dreisinger and Fiona Doyle for their Volume 56 (2014) paper A critical review on solvent extraction of rare earths from aqueous solutions.  The most downloaded papers over the past 90 days are listed on the journal website. It is interesting to see that China accounts for around a third of all downloads from ScienceDirect.

The success of a journal is dependent on the quality and relevance of its papers, and I must thank and congratulate all the researchers who have endured the sometimes long and challenging peer-review process before final acceptance. Last year 1294 manuscripts were submitted and of these 28.7% were finally accepted, highlighting how rigorous the evaluations can be.
Having been involved with the journal since its inception 32 years ago, I am, of course, proud of how it has evolved over the years, and there are many people who I have to thank for this. I have been involved with many Elsevier Publishing Managers since 1988, the longest association being with Dean Eastbury, who will be well known to many MEI Conference delegates. It was a great pleasure to work with Dean, who is now retired in Cornwall, and it is now a pleasure to work with his successor in Oxford, Joshua Bayliss.
I am particularly indebted to the regular issue editors, Dr. Pablo Brito-Parada and Dr. Kristian Waters, and their team of six bright young assistant editors, and also to the members of the Editorial Board, a group of highly experienced professionals, who offer advice when needed. A full listing of the journal's Editorial team can be found on the website.
And last, but definitely by no means least, a massive thanks to the hundreds of researchers worldwide who give up their time to take part in the all important peer-review system, without which there would be no journal. The reviewers participate anonymously, although I do thank recent reviewers by listing them in the hard copies of each journal issue. I would like to remind all reviewers that in appreciation of your efforts, you can access your profile page online and collect your rewards, download your review certificates, and view your annual overview.

Monday, 6 July 2020

From the Archives- Mauritius, Réunion and Madagascar

It's fair to say that MEI is just ticking over at the moment, waiting to move up through the gears next year as we enter the strange new world of the 'new normal'. Our life basically revolves around international conferences, not only MEI Conferences, but reporting on other events around the world. Next month, for instance, Jon would have been in Australia, reporting on the AusIMM's Mill Ops conference, and I would have been presenting a lunchtime lecture at the Conference of Metallurgists in Toronto.
Although many conferences have opted to go online, we have avoided that for the foreseeable future, preferring to postpone events, biding our time until the days when people are free to travel again, albeit probably in a more restricted manner. Digital conferences are fine, but in my opinion they are a poor substitute for the real thing - face to face meetings, and socialising with the uncertainty of what serendipity might have to offer. The reaction to my posting We'll Meet Again last month suggests that other professionals are also looking forward to getting together again.
Apart from meeting people, we are much aware of how privileged we are to have a life in the minerals industry, and the opportunity that it gives us of travelling the world to see amazing things, and to experience different cultures. So while real travel is on hold, I thought I might delve into the archives and reminisce about some of the great places that we have visited before or after conferences. 
Our next MEI Conference is likely to be Comminution '21 next April, running parallel with the IMPC, both in Cape Town, so a good place to start delving is the first Cape Town conference that I was involved with, 27 years ago, Minerals Engineering '93, organised with CSM Associates, a few years before MEI was even thought of (see also MEI Blog 27 October 2010).  
Visiting Rhodes Memorial, Cape Town, after Minerals Engineering '93,
with Kirsty Walker, Terry & Pauline Veasey and Rob Wilson,
delegates from University of Birmingham
Barbara at Cape Town Waterfront with Ann Ralston, Sabina Crozier,
Carmel Beniuk and Pauline Veasey
Barbara and I knew little of the Western Cape at that time, so opted for a holiday on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius after the event, as this was only a few hours flight from Johannesburg. Mauritius is the oldest of the three volcanic Mascarene Islands, being formed between 7 and 10 million years ago.  It is a beautiful tropical island but probably particularly attractive to those who enjoy watersports.

In 2014, after Process Mineralogy '14, we spent a week on Réunion, a French island about 200 kilometres southwest of Mauritius (MEI Blog 30 November 2014). The largest of the Mascarene islands, Réunion was formed less than 3 million years ago. The landscape of the south-east is dominated by lava fields from many eruptions, some very recent, from the highly active volcano Piton de la Fournaise, which is over 530,000 years old. It is one of the world's most active volcanoes, with over 150 recorded eruptions since the 17th century, the most recent being only 6 years ago. 
Like Mauritius, Réunion is also a beautiful island, catering for watersports, but with some great hiking in the cooler interior. We spent three nights at Cilaos, a town situated in one of the calderas of the massive Piton de Neiges dormant volcano with impressive trails in its interior.
St. Gilles des Baines coral beach and reef
The long and winding road to the island's interior
Cilaos, situated in one of the calderas of the massive dormant volcano, Piton de Neiges
Hiking in the Cilaos caldera
A comparison of Mauritius and Réunion must, of course, be very subjective, but for those who like to sizzle in a hot tropical sun, Mauritius might be the better place for you, with its superior beaches, food and water sports facilities. But if hard hiking is your thing, then Réunion could well be added to your list of places to visit. The massive Piton de Neiges forms two thirds of the island and there are very many hiking trails within its three Cirques. We visited only one of these, and only scratched the surface of the hiking available, so it is not surprising that many people repeatedly return to this fascinating volcanic island.
But my recommendation by far would go to Madagascar, between mainland Africa and the Mascarenes, where we spent a wonderful week after Flotation '11. Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world, and we visited four of its small islands, Nosy Sakatia, Nosy Be, Nosy Komba and Nosy Iranja.
Our first 4 nights were at Sakatia, known for its orchids and splendid diving on its coral reefs. 
From Sakatia we visited neighbouring islands Nosy Komba and Nosy Be.
Nosy Be

Nosy Komba
Nosy Komba is particularly famous for its population of lemurs, which are protected as they are considered sacred by the island’s inhabitants. 
Our final 2 nights were spent at Nosy Iranja, two small coral islands connected by a sand bar at low tide. This tropical paradise is home to the luxurious Iranja Lodge and boasts absolute tranquility- during our stay around 30 staff attended to us and one other couple!
Nosy Iranja is famed for its Hawksbill Turtles, which come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand, and we were lucky to see the tiny turtles hatch then race off to the sea (YouTube).
Our two days at Iranja flew by, and our exceptional brief visit to Madagascar ended with a one and a half hour speedboat trip back to Nosy Be, and our flight back to Johannesburg.

We strongly recommend Madagascar as a great place to unwind after an MEI Conference in Cape Town. Our itinerary was arranged by our South African agent Rene Simpson, who can arrange a seamless holiday for you (