Monday, 28 September 2020

Cornwall leads the way- the UK's hive of mining activity

I was pleased to see so many comments on the posting of 13th September regarding the likely scrapping, after 130 years,  of the undergraduate course in mining engineering at Camborne School of Mines. The University of Exeter obviously have their reasons for doing this, but one of the correspondents to the posting said that "training mining and mineral processing engineers is not a popular pursuit simply because the actual work is no longer in Britain". This unfortunately is a misconception that is widely held- since the demise of coal mining, there is no longer any mining in UK. This is not true, however, there is a dynamic mining industry in Britain, and much of it, ironically, is in Cornwall. 

As well as an established china clay mining industry, there is a great deal of mining activity in Cornwall at present, with the development of lithium extraction, and new deposits of tin and copper being developed, as well as geothermal energy. There are also numerous mining and mineral processing service companies, which are fully listed on the Cornwall Mining Alliance website. Many Camborne School of Mines graduates are gainfully employed in these areas.

Geothermal Engineering Ltd continues to push forward with the United Downs deep geothermal power project and has recently completed the first phase of testing on the wells.  The production well is 5.275km deep and the temperature is now confirmed at 188 degrees Celsius. Further well testing will be undertaken in October and the project aims to produce power in late 2021.

The latest results from Cornish Lithium are also very exciting. Lithium levels in the geothermal brines were always expected to be high but the water chemistry does suggest that low carbon lithium extraction will also be possible at the geothermal site.  The combination of deep geothermal power, heat and lithium could be a big part of the future in Cornwall (MEI Blog September 18th).

And geothermal brines are not the only source of lithium in the county. British Lithium Ltd is the first company in the UK to explore for hard rock lithium and the only one so far to have established a resource, in the St Austell area, well known for its china clay deposits. It now aims to build a quarry and refinery in Cornwall that will produce 20,000 tonnes per year of lithium carbonate, and has been awarded £500,000 of government funding to progress research and development of lithium extraction from granitic lithium micas.

Cornwall is synonymous with copper and tin mining, and its legacy can be seen all over the county, with its iconic abandoned engine houses, a haven for artists and photographers.

The last tin mine to close was South Crofty in Camborne in 1998. The mine is now being redeveloped and an unexpectedly high-grade intersection of 2.19% tin has been reported more than 100 metres below any historic mining. Cornish Metals Inc. said the results reflected the mine’s potential and the possible discovery of “economic structures” in areas of the mine not previously considered. The company contrasted the findings with the Renison Bell underground tin mine in Tasmania which mined an average grade of 1.32% tin in 2019. Chief executive of Cornish Metals, Richard Williams, said: “The intermediate lode structure was predicted by our geological team to be in this area but such a high-grade intersection so far beneath the old mine workings was not anticipated. It does reinforce the exploration potential at South Crofty and our ability to find economic structures within areas of the mine that have been previously overlooked".

South Crofty is an ancient mine which produced copper and then tin for over 400 years. In east Cornwall, near the Devon border, is another ancient mine which is currently under development by the Redmoor Tin-Tungsten-Copper Project. The original Redmoor Mine is one of a group of mines that were opened in the 18th century and continued operating until 1892 when they were forced to close due to low tin prices. Sections of the Redmoor Mine were re-opened between 1907 and 1914 and again in 1934. Redmoor now ranks as one of the leading undeveloped tin-tungsten mining projects in the world, having recently revealed a new mineral resource estimate. It is estimated that Redmoor contains some 137,000 tonnes of inferred tin resources, up from 45,000 tonnes. This provides the company and its joint venture partner, New Age Exploration, confidence to progress towards the goal of restarting mining at Redmoor.

And apart from all this, the UK's four major minerals industry conferences next year, Physical Separation '21, IntegratedMinPro '21, Biomining '21 and Sustainable Minerals '21 will be held in Falmouth next June, hosted by Cornwall-based MEI.

Things are happening in Cornwall!  All the more reason to wonder at the University of Exeter's decision to 'pause' recruitment to the undergraduate mining engineering degree at Camborne.


Thursday, 24 September 2020

Eriez Flotation: the latest sponsor of Flotation '21

We are pleased to welcome back Eriez Flotation as a sponsor of next year's Flotation '21 in Cape Town. The company was a sponsor of last year's Flotation '19, also in Cape Town.

Eriez Flotation at Flotation '19

Eriez Flotation combines the minerals processing expertise of Eriez and its subsidiary, Canadian Process Technologies (CPT) and provides advanced engineering, metallurgical testing and innovative flotation technology for the mining and minerals processing industries. 

The Eriez Flotation product line encompasses flotation cells, gas spargers, mini-pilot plants, slurry distributors and flotation test equipment. The company has designed, supplied and commissioned more than 900 column flotation systems worldwide for cleaning, roughing and scavenging applications in metallic and non-metallic processing operations.  It is also well known for its StackCell® - a small stackable mechanical cell offering reduced mixing in the cell and shorter residence times, and HydroFloat®, which significantly increases recovery of coarse particles (up to 6 mm) by forming a hindered “teeter” bed of fluidized solids into which small air bubbles are introduced.

Thanks for your support, Eriez Flotation, and to all the other companies who are sponsoring next year's event.

Updates can be found at #Flotation21.

Monday, 21 September 2020

New Book: Miner with a Heart of Gold

When asked by his son to write a foreword for this book, about the life of Frank White, I felt honoured but also a little nervous about it. It is never easy to write about someone you have never personally met, even though I knew who he was, and Frank White died in 1971, just as I was embarking on my long career in the minerals industry. 

However, I am very glad that I took the plunge, as this loving portrayal by his biographer, his son Franklin White, paints a picture of a man who led a relatively brief, but intensely full life, not only as a mining and metallurgical engineer but also as an adventurer and seeker of knowledge for the common good. The book is now available in print and electronic form.

Frank White's career began in Western Australia, where he improved a process in gold refining and earned his underground mine manager certification. He was then recruited by the British Colonial Service to establish what became Fiji’s Department of Mines, during which time he carried out the first geological survey of Viti Levu, the main island of the Fiji archipelago. During the Second World War, he served with the Fiji Military Forces as a platoon commander with duties as a demolition specialist.

Following the close of the Pacific War in 1945, he was posted to the British post-war Military Administration in Malaya as a civilian charged with guiding the rehabilitation of the tin-mining industry, which responded with dramatically restored output. In late 1949, while taking leave in the UK and Australia, he took on what I believe would become his greatest legacy. Early in 1950, he was recruited by the University of Queensland (UQ) to establish its department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering.

He did so brilliantly. His early action to reactivate an abandoned silver mine on the outskirts of Brisbane gave rise to a unique teaching and research resource. The University of Queensland Experimental Mine (UQEM) was a great success, not only in providing a reality-based setting for mineral science and engineering disciplines but also in raising the profile of UQ as a leader in the field. In 1970, the department’s Julius Kruttschnitt Minerals Research Centre, known worldwide as the JKMRC, was launched at the UQEM site. Frank White’s contributions were memorialised; in 1992, a building was named in his honour, and a minecart with memorial plaque was mounted on a rock cairn at UQEM.

Frank White in 1970

In 1965, fifteen years after founding UQ’s department, Frank was invited by Canada’s renowned McGill University in Montreal to rebuild North America’s oldest school of mines, known then as the Department of Mining Engineering and Applied Geophysics. This was yet another task in which he achieved success, with strong support; McGill’s Mining and Materials Engineering Department is now, like UQ, ranked highly internationally. 

Sadly, Frank White died a few years later, at the relatively young age of sixty-two. It is clear that, had he lived longer, he would have achieved even more. Miner with a Heart of Gold is the story of a man probably born out of his time—a visionary in his field. Frank White was passionate about mining and also its sustainability and impact on the environment, which were not considered mainstream issues in the mid-twentieth century. If he were alive today, he would have a mission to educate young people on the crucial role of mining to society. Because mining is one of the world’s greatest consumers of energy and emitters of carbon dioxide, and yet will be essential in supplying the raw materials to construct renewable technologies, he would advocate that how this is done will be critical in the fight against climate change.

This is a book on a remarkable life, which would be of interest to anyone, but should be considered essential reading for young people thinking of entering the world’s minerals industry.


Friday, 18 September 2020

Cornish Lithium finds “globally significant” lithium grades in geothermal waters and prepares for work on pilot plant

The Cornish mining district is a world-class mineral province, with estimated historic production of around £45 billion from tin and £11 billion from copper at current prices. The well-known granite outcrops (from Dartmoor in the east to the Isles of Scilly in the west) are connected deep below the surface and form one of the top five lithium-enriched granite areas worldwide, according to the United States Geological Survey. As geothermal fluids circulate in the earth’s crust, lithium is leached out of the granite into solution. Lithium in brine was first identified in ‘hot springs’ in 1864 when such fluids were discovered underground in one of Cornwall’s historic tin mines and analysed for its lithium content.

There was great news yesterday from Cornish Lithium Ltd, an innovative mineral exploration company exploring for lithium and other battery metals in the South West of the UK. Results of preliminary sampling of lithium in deep geothermal waters at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project near Redruth (MEI Blog 1st November 2018) indicate some of the world’s highest grades of lithium and best overall chemical qualities encountered in published records for geothermal waters anywhere in the world. Geothermal waters which contain lithium are very different from other occurrences of lithium in brine given that the same water can be used to generate zero-carbon electrical power and heat. As such these waters are rapidly becoming recognised as the ultimate ethical source of lithium.

Jeremy Wrathall, CEO & Founder of Cornish Lithium and a graduate of Camborne School of Mines, said: “This is an exciting step towards the realisation of low-carbon lithium extraction from geothermal waters in Cornwall, and complements Cornish Lithium’s work to date on exploring for lithium contained within shallower geothermal waters in the County. The pilot lithium extraction plant, part funded by the UK Government, that we will develop with Geothermal Engineering Ltd. at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project will allow us to evaluate green Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technologies which will bring us another step closer to commercial production of lithium in Cornwall. We now have increased confidence that these lithium-enriched geothermal waters can be found at depth across Cornwall and believe that there is significant potential to replicate combined lithium and geothermal extraction plants in different locations across the County where Cornish Lithium has mineral rights agreements in place.”

The initial assay results show lithium concentrations of up to 260 mg/L, which are believed to be among the highest published grades of lithium in geothermal waters globally. Importantly the Total Dissolved Solids (‘TDS’) content of these Cornish waters is exceptionally low relative to other geothermal waters worldwide, making Cornish waters globally significant. In particular magnesium, a metal that makes processing more difficult and expensive, is extremely low at a concentration of only 5mg/L.

The graph below illustrates the results in a global context and shows lithium levels relative to TDS for various types of lithium rich waters and brines, such as salar brines from the Atacama Desert, oilfield brines and other geothermal waters. Whilst salar brines are often much higher grade, they are difficult to process due to the presence of high levels of magnesium and other deleterious elements. Access to power in these remote locations also makes DLE challenging, or impossible.

These results are considered highly encouraging given current developments in lithium extraction using DLE technologies. Additional testing is planned over coming weeks. DLE technology extracts dissolved lithium compounds from the water without the need for the large evaporation ponds that are used in the arid regions of South America. It uses ionic adsorbents and/or ion exchange membranes, with the residual water being returned to depth via a borehole.

Using DLE technology Cornish Lithium aims to maximise product recovery from the geothermal waters in a small footprint, energy efficient extraction plant, which will be powered by an on-site geothermal power plant. This demonstration lithium extraction pilot plant will trial environmentally-responsible DLE technology to selectively remove lithium compounds from water extracted by the geothermal powerplant from its 5.2km deep borehole. Once the lithium has been extracted, the water will be reinjected into the rock.

An elegant process

The pilot plant at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project will allow detailed evaluation of potential processing methodologies and accelerate efforts towards commercial production of lithium for automotive manufacturers seeking low carbon supply chains of battery metals. Domestic production of this critical metal is vital for the UK to deliver its zero carbon and clean growth ambitions.

Next steps include further sampling of the deep geothermal waters when GEL commences its next phase of test work at the United Downs site in October this year, with further tests expected to provide additional observations regarding the origins and context of these deeper geothermal waters. The information from additional bulk samples will then be used to inform the design and technology for the pilot DLE plant for the production of lithium hydroxide with a net zero carbon footprint.

The co-production of lithium with geothermal heat and power from the same geothermal waters is a truly exciting opportunity for Cornwall.


Thursday, 17 September 2020

Into 'Poldark Country' with Physical Separation '21 and IntegratedMinPro '21

This now postponed to June 2022

The wonderful stretch of coastline between Levant and Botallack on the Land's End Peninsula is not only an area of outstanding natural beauty, but it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as this is the St. Just Mining Area, the region of Cornwall's submarine mines (MEI Blog 20 October 2014) where 19th century miners worked the copper and tin lodes under the floor of the Atlantic Ocean and over a mile out to sea. 

The area is also popular with fans of the BBC TV series 'Poldark' (MEI Blog 29th March 2015) as this was one of the main locations for filming the fictional story of the eponymous 18th century miner.

This is my favourite stretch of the Cornish coast and I am looking forward to showing it to delegates from Physical Separation '21 and Integration, Optimisation & Design of Mineral Processing Circuits (IntegratedMinPro '21) next June.

On the afternoon of Wednesday June 9th delegates and their accompanying guests will be served a Cornish Cream Tea, and I will give a short presentation on Cornish mining and its legacy, before we are coached the 35 miles to Levant, passing by the UK's most westerly major town, Penzance, the birthplace of Sir Humphry Davy. From here we enter the most remote area of England, the Penwith, or Land's End, Peninsula, only 6 miles wide at its narrowest section between Penzance on the south coast and St. Ives on the north.

Levant, one of Cornwall's richest and most famous copper and tin mines, 'The Mine Under the Sea', operated continuously for 110 years until its closure in 1930. It is particularly well known for the collapse of its man engine in 1919, which killed 31 miners, and we will begin our tour at the miners' changing room or 'dry' where the miners entered a tunnel leading to the man engine shaft. After a quick briefing on what happened on that fateful day we will walk the couple of hundred metres down to the cliffs and to the main shafts, now owned by the National Trust

From here, those not wishing to walk over the cliffs will be coached to Botallack, where they will meet up with the rest of the group who took the 15 minute walk to the iconic Crowns Engine houses, perched precariously on the cliff face.

Passing by the extensive remains of Botallack's tin dressing floors and the arsenic calciners and labyrinths, our tour ends at the ruins of the West Wheal Owles pumping engine house.

Buddles in the Botallack dressing floor
Arsenic labyrinths
Wheal Owles

Suitably dressed up, and with a little CGI, this might be recognisable to Poldark fans as the fictional Wheal Leisure.

Filming 'Poldark' at Wheal Owles

For those who have never visited this part of Cornwall, I am sure that this will be a memorable tour and one of the highlights of the conference programmes. If you would like to present papers at the events, there is a call for abstracts, which should be submitted by the end of December.

Updates are at:


Sunday, 13 September 2020

Concern regarding undergraduate teaching of Mining Engineering in UK

Unfortunately Thursday's Cornish Mining Sundowner has had to be cancelled, due to new Coronavirus restrictions on size of gatherings.

As the majority of sundowner regulars have association with Camborne School of Mines (CSM), mainly as current and ex-students and staff, there would have been much talk of the very disturbing news regarding CSM's degree course in mining engineering, which has its origins back to 1888.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Metcelerate to prepare a short video on the crucial importance of mineral processing, for their international online course for young mineral processors. The video was also added to YouTube in the hope that it might inspire school leavers to take up a career in the minerals industry. Ironically on the same day news came that the University of Exeter had announced a plan to ‘pause’ recruitment to the BEng Mining Engineering programme at CSM for the 2021-22 academic year, but stressed that it hasn’t been scrapped, instead recruitment has been paused while it looks to reshape the opportunities to study mining and related topics. 

The University says that it will explore a range of options to allow undergraduates to study mining, possibly through other engineering programmes, and will continue to recruit to the geology and postgraduate mining programmes.

A University spokesperson said "we know this may cause concern for some colleagues and students, however our current undergraduates will be supported fully to complete their studies, and colleagues and stakeholders will have a range of opportunities to help shape future courses. There is a strong future for the study of mining at the University of Exeter.”

'Pausing' however suggests a euphemism for something more sinister, and among those expressing sadness at the news was Cornwall Councillor and Camborne School of Mines student Loveday Jenkin who described the move as “another proud Cornish community that is looking like it’s going to disappear”. 

Let's hope not, as CSM is the only university department in UK offering a degree in mining engineering, the course being accredited by the IOM3.

This announcement is particularly ironic as only a few days earlier there was news that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in UK could be banned within a decade amid pressure from Conservative MPs to accelerate a transition to green vehicles. Ministers are expected to publish detailed plans soon to phase out the combustion engine in efforts to cut roadside pollution and greenhouse gases. A consultation began in February on bringing forward the deadline from 2040 to 2035 with the possibility of a faster transition if feasible.

There was no mention, as always, of where the extra raw materials would come from to affect this transition. In the posting of 21st July 2019 I suggested that zero carbon by 2050 was unattainable if all vehicles driven by fossil fuel were replaced by electric vehicles, as there simply would not be a sufficient supply of raw materials to satisfy the demand. Blocking young school leavers from training to be the mining and minerals engineers of the future can only exacerbate the situation.

The news is particularly galling as employability of CSM mining graduates at home and overseas has been excellent, no less than 15 of last year’s cohort being taken on by a single company.

In my short video I stressed that as we enter the 4th industrial revolution the demand for raw materials will increase and that mines would have to ramp up production and the mineral industry look to secondary sources and recycling, only achievable if we have an increased supply of trained mining and mineral processing engineers.

However in UK Engineering’s otherwise comprehensive website, there is no reference at all to Mining or Minerals Engineering, and a link to a quiz for students, to give them an overview of all engineering disciplines, has no reference to mining or quarrying and no hint comes up in the jobs list.

Many years ago when I worked in Zambia the majority of mineral processors had degrees in chemical engineering, but on the IChemE's website, the section on "what do Chemical Engineers do" has no mention of the minerals industry, despite the fact that in 2013 IChemE launched a new special interest group dedicated to mining and minerals!

This is all very worrying and I invite your views on what is a subject of crucial importance not only to the minerals industry, but to society in general.


Thursday, 10 September 2020

Bill Whiten 1942-2020

Sad news from Australia of the death of Dr. Bill Whiten of the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC). Bill Whiten was indispensable to the JKMRC, the Alban Lynch - Bill Whiten partnership putting the JKMRC on the map and sustaining it for over 20 years. Bill and Alban complemented each other—Lynch, with his new concept for research, early grinding and cyclone modelling, and ability to engage with the industry, and Bill with his ability to apply rigorous mathematics to the models, the software skills to develop general purpose simulation packages and a rare ability to devise simple experiments which led to new process understanding (In Conversation with Alban Lynch). Just like Lynch, Whiten had a fierce work ethic and commitment to see the JKMRC succeed.

Some would argue, including countless students, that Bill’s greatest contribution was in his supervision and support of students for over 50 years. He never really retired from the centre and continued to mentor students as the 50th anniversary approached. A man of relatively few words, Bill Whiten had the habit of summing up a situation succinctly. He was the first port of call when people ran into inevitable maths and programming problems and a source of new ideas in research which spanned processing and mining, data analysis and new mathematical techniques.

The longest lasting JKMRC tradition is the Friday morning seminar. Whiten introduced seminars when the first new building was constructed in 1970. The seminar program has never faltered and Bill continued to attend if the topic was of interest to him.

Bill Whiten completed a Mathematics degree in 1963 at the University of Canterbury (NZ) and learnt computer programming as a side line to the set course. He then worked as a computer programmer in the University of Queensland’s Computer Centre. At the beginning of 1966 he joined what is now the JKMRC as a research assistant and completed a PhD in 1972 on ‘Simulation and Model Building for Mineral Processing’ after studying part time. This thesis among other things developed the now standard model of industrial crushers, and a systematic approach to model building that has become the basis for continuing work in improving and automating model building.

Bill published over 100 technical papers on a wide range of topics including process simulation, regression techniques, model building, and clustering techniques. He worked extensively in the development and application of specific process models for mineral processing applications. He supervised 18 PhD degrees and 9 Masters degrees related to mineral processing and model construction and assisted many more higher degree students at JKMRC.

Bill worked extensively with models of crushing and grinding equipment having developed theoretical relations that govern these models. His work with S.S. Narayanan determined the essential one parameter nature of the size distribution resulting from the breakage of individual brittle rock particles. The breakage tests resulting from this work are now a standard procedure in the design of comminution equipment. It has been shown in conjunction with Narayanan how the breakage tests can be used in the design of ball mills, with S.E. Awachie for the design of crushers, and with C. Leung for the design of autogenous mills. The application of this work is a major part of the operations of the JKMRC consulting division JKTech. The University of Utah has based their work on comminution partly on these methods.

A particular interest was making model building more efficient and effective. The particular case of interest is now known as ‘grey box’ modelling where some theory is known and experimental data is used to complete the model thus taking advantage of all the available information. This has a great many applications ranging from basically empirical modelling to validating models developed entirely from theory. This work started with the specification of model building steps and was automated in conjunction with T. Kojovic

Bill was an active participant in the annual Australian Mathematics in Industry Study Group (MISG) and he also spent three years as an active member of the academic board of the University of Queensland. In 1993 he shared the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy "Mineral Industry Operating Techniques Award" for development of the JKSimMet Metallurgical Simulation System. The citation reads ‘In recognition of the development of the JKSimMet metallurgical simulator system at the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre in the University of Queensland which has achieved worldwide acclaim and commercial acceptance’. In 2019 he was awarded a AUSIMM Professional Excellence Award.

Steve Morrell, Chris Bailey, Rob Morrison, Bill Whiten and Dave Wiseman,
the team which won an AusIMM Award in 1993 for the development of JKSimMet

Bill had battled with leukemia for two years, and passed away three days ago. Our thought are very much with his wife Agnes.

Monday, 7 September 2020

The Crucial Importance of Mineral Processing

A few weeks ago I was approached by Prof. Jan Cilliers, of Imperial College, UK, with a request to provide a short video on the importance of mineral processing to modern society. Jan is CFO of the Governance team for Metcelerate, the other members being Diana Drinkwater (CEO), Australia, Brian Flintoff (Consultant), Canada and Robert Seitz (Director) USA.

Metcelerate is a two year Professional Formation programme for mineral processing engineers. It is online and requires a few hours of learning each week.

I was pleased to comply with Jan's request to have my video included in the introduction to the programme as I have always felt that many universities, while providing a good grounding in the science and technology of mineral processing, cannot deliver the practical experience that allows graduates  to translate theoretical knowledge and skills in to professional practice, and nor do they highlight how crucial it is, and will be in the quest for a circular economy.

Having prepared a 10 minute PowerPoint video, it is now available for viewing on YouTube. If you feel that you can make use of this for educational purposes, I would greatly appreciate you doing so.


Friday, 4 September 2020

Prof. R Venugopal, 1955-2020

Very sad news in this morning from the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad.

Prof. R Venugopal died yesterday as a result of a massive cardiac arrest. He was 65 years old. He was an eminent academician and teacher at the Fuel and Minerals Engineering Department at the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad, India, where I first met him during my visit in 1989. We met again in 2012 at the IMPC in New Delhi.

R. Venugopal, 2nd left, Dhanbad 1989
With Amanda and me in New Delhi, 2012

Prof. Venugopal served at ISM for more than three decades on different roles and responsibilities including head of the department as well as Dean of Research. His students always admired him for his unique teaching skill and his friendly nature. His main research interest focussed on pelletisation and flotation. 

Prof. Venugopal had more than 100 publications in different technical journals and conference proceedings.  He also served as the President of the Indian Institute of Mineral Engineering, which is the only professional body in India to promote Mineral Engineering. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

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Tuesday, 1 September 2020

August staycations

The overall Covid infection rate in UK was steadily increasing at the beginning of the month, although by the end of the month there were only around 450 Coronavirus patients in English hospitals. 

Restrictions imposed on travelling abroad may have been a double-edged sword as, freed from previous lockdown restrictions, and desperate for a break, tourists have been flocking to the UK's beauty spots , for staycations, and the crowds in Falmouth were hard to believe after the emptiness of only a few months ago.

Falmouth centre early August (photo Greg Martin, Cornwall Live)
A deserted town in April

All major international conferences for this year are now either cancelled or postponed, or will be going online, including the MetSoc's Conference of Metallurgists (COM). I should have been arriving back in Falmouth from Toronto a couple of days ago, after presenting the Fathi Habashi Historical Lecture. Hopefully I will be in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next year to make the presentation at COM '21

Jon should have been in Australia next week, representing MEI at the AusIMM's MillOps conference, now postponed until next June. And a few weeks ago the XXX IMPC in Cape Town was cancelled, the first time in the IMPC's long history that a congress has had to be cancelled.

The months are steadily ticking by and I find it hard to believe that it is 6 months now since I arrived back in Falmouth from the SME Meeting in Phoenix, with no inkling of being confined to Cornwall for possibly the rest of the year. Many thanks to all of you who have stayed in touch via email during these strange times.