Monday, 18 October 2021

Cornwall at its best for a 50 year reunion

Barbara and I arrived in Zambia in late 1969 and our first of many friends were two single guys, Alan Minty, a mechanical engineer in one of the open pits, a fine squash player who introduced me to the sport, and Pete Love, an exploration geologist.

Barbara with Pete and Alan, Chingola 1969

Like many adventurous young men, Alan, Pete and I aspired to great things, future entrepreneurs who would make their own way in the world. When our contracts in Zambia ended we would no longer have the shackles of employment, and would be masters of our own destinies. 

As I was an "experienced" diver, with 30 dives logged in the UK, and had introduced Alan and Pete to diving in the sunken lakes near Luanshya, it seemed obvious to us that our future lay in running a diving school in Spain and we even registered our company LMW Divers and began to learn Spanish!  A pipe dream of course, and as we settled into Zambian life this was quietly forgotten.

It was not the end of our ambitions to go it alone, however. Pete and I invested in hi-fi equipment and ran a weekly disco, which was soon abandoned as it was obvious that this was not the route to millionaire status.

Saturday Night Fever with Pete, and Brian, the 'security guard'

Alan and I went a different route and invested quite a bit of our savings into a good second-hand Nissan station wagon with the aim of running a successful taxi business, as few of the local Africans owned cars, making full use of buses and taxis. Taxis were everywhere, rickety vehicles carrying inordinate numbers of passengers. Alan had a driver in mind, one of his African workers, who was keen to leave the mine. We planned everything meticulously, possible routes, fares and the commission for the driver, who, having great confidence in us, had given up his mine job. The great day dawned, we gave the driver his final briefing, he proudly took his seat in the taxi, drove away, and that was the last we ever saw of him or the car!! 

Sobering reminders that not everyone becomes a Richard Branson overnight, and after several years in Zambia, Alan, Pete and I moved on along our separate paths, and unfortunately lost touch.

Over thirty years later, however, Barbara and I met Alan and his wife Sheila purely by chance, on a tour bus visiting Robben Island off Cape Town.  We had a great reunion dinner in Cape Town, where we reminisced and caught up on how our careers had developed since our Zambian days. It transpired that Alan had a thriving family business in the oil and gas industry, specialising in, wait for it, risk assessment! Oh, the irony of it! If only we had carried out some form of risk assessment all those years ago our African driver would not have had his early Christmas present.

Lunch in Cape Town with Alan and Sheila Minty, 2006

Over the years I tried unsuccessfully to trace Pete via Google but two years ago I had a message from him on LinkedIn, and we arranged to meet up with him and his wife Pam, who now live in Eastbourne in Sussex. He had left Zambia in 1972 and spent a year at the President Brand Mine, with the Free State Gold Mines in South Africa, before returning to London and working in the Foreign Office for a couple of years.  He married Pam in 1974 and returned to the gold mines, with Vaal Reefs in the Transvaal, then on to the Anglo American Corporation Head Office in Johannesburg. Their daughter Natalie was born in 1979 and Pete then spent 5 years as Chief Geologist on Elandsrand Gold Mine on the Western Rand before returning to the UK in 1984, where he and Pam set up a training business which continued for 16 years, and in which period he dabbled in Management Consultancy and Venture Capital and worked as a geological consultant. 

Unfortunately, due to Covid, our meeting was delayed for two years, but last week Pam and Pete spent four wonderful days with us and we were transported back to days of the young visionaries of half a century ago. Even the weather was reminiscent of Zambia and we were more than pleased to take the opportunity to show them some of our favourite areas in West Cornwall, which seem to be getting steeper each year! Hopefully we might catch up with other friends from the past, via the wonders of social media, and maybe the photos below might whet your appetites to contact us if you are out there.

Maenporth beach, Falmouth
St. Just in Roseland
Levant mine
Crowns Engine Houses, Botallack
Arsenic labyrinth, Botallack
An obligatory visit to Falmouth's Chain Locker
Lizard Point
The Lizard Peninsula
Above Kynance Cove, The Lizard

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Recent comments

There have been comments on the following postings since the last update:

Biomining '21 Day 4
July Cornish Mining Sundowner: more news on lithium
Prof. Akbar Farzanegan
What is the future for journal impact factor?
July update: no end in sight for the pandemic
Major green company Metso Outotec to sponsor Sustainable Minerals '22
Return to Chingola
Future flotation circuits and machines
"Diseases to which Miners of Metals are Exposed": .....
Prof. Raj K. Rajamani, 1948-2021
August update- the pandemic continues; Cornwall becomes the UK's hot-bed for Covid
A stunning walk over southern England's highest cliff, Golden Cap
Prof. Alban Lynch, 1930-2021: the first Director of the JKMRC
Comparing the world's three greatest waterfalls
Malaysia: memories of Penang and the Kinta Valley
September update: More Covid restrictions eased but Covid and Brexit create new problems

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Monday, 11 October 2021

Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineers to Prof. Sam Kingman

It is always great to announce that one of our fellow mineral processors has received a prestigious award, and as such it was particularly good to hear that Prof. Sam Kingman, who was a keynote lecturer at MEI's Physical Separation '19 has been awarded Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineers.

Professor Kingman, a Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Nottingham, is a gifted academic with a real flair for providing industry with innovative solutions. His research is focused on developing a fundamental understanding of the interaction of microwave and electromagnetic energy with materials and how this can be used to develop energy-efficient, sustainable processes. The development of global partnerships with both academia and industry has been crucial to delivering impact from his work, successfully linking the highest quality research and innovation with an industrial supply chain. 

For over 40 years engineers have explored opportunities for using microwave energy to improve the efficiency of mineral and metallurgical processes.  Given the vast energy consumption of such processes this is not a surprise  as microwave heating has long been assumed to reduce energy consumption in process engineering unit operations.  Selective heating of microwave-absorbent sulphides and metal oxides deported in a microwave-transparent gangue matrix results in differential thermal expansion of the heated phase, yielding micro-fracture around grain margins. Subsequent downstream processing may then yield higher recovery of valuable mineral sulphides and/or lower specific comminution energy, compared to non-microwave treated ore.

But while the mechanistic principles are well established, the scientific and engineering challenges of developing a commercial scale system have been immense. Typical throughputs of a large copper mine can be in excess of 5000 tph of milled ore and a microwave based treatment system would need to handle equivalent throughputs. This is at least an order of magnitude higher than any other microwave process ever built.

Four years ago (posting of 1st June 2017) I reported on two important papers, published in Minerals Engineering, describing how Sam's team from the University of Nottingham and Jenike & Johanson, USA, had detailed the design, commissioning and operation of a system which was the culmination of over fifteen years of research and development activity. This resulted in a pilot-scale high power microwave treatment process, capable of operating continuously at throughputs of up to 150 tph, but crucially scaleable up to several thousand tonnes per hour.

More recent work has shown for the first time that microwave technology can be used in commercial mineral processing plants and that it can be used at significant scale with several of the largest microwave processing plants ever built being applied.  In 2018 a multidisciplinary team of engineers from the University of Nottingham and Teledyne e2v were presented with the Colin Campbell Mitchell Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering for developing MicroHammer, a revolutionary process for extracting copper from its ore by exposing rocks to powerful microwave energy for a fraction of a second. The team combined their skills in microwave technology and engineering to develop the largest microwave processing system ever constructed, capable of processing up to 3000 tonnes of ore per hour.

At Physical Separation '19 Sam's keynote lecture "What's cooking in mining?" examined the steps required to scale up such processes, and the importance of the team involved, presenting a strong case for understanding the value proposition for the technology being developed at the earliest stages of the project and the use of this to drive the research direction. He drew conclusions as to the steps required to see this technology in daily use across our industry - a time which he feels may be sooner than some workers may have previously thought.

Professor Kingman and his group have been recognised through the award of The Engineer Technology and Innovation Prize for Environmental Technology and the Environmental Prize of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and in 2011 he was awarded the Bielby Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry, Society of Chemical Industries and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining for his work to reduce energy consumption in chemical processing. Other prestigious awards include the Institution of Chemical Engineers Energy Prize in 2012 for work in microwave processing of industrial minerals and the UK Medal for Excellence in Engineering (2001). Microwave processing research at Nottingham has also been recognised by the award of the 2009 Environmental prize by the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Congratulations Sam, and we look forward to hearing more of progress on this exciting technology.


Thursday, 7 October 2021

The CSM Annual Dinner is back after a long enforced break

After a Coronavirus break of two and a half years (posting of 31 March 2019), the Camborne School of Mines Annual Dinner bounced back last Saturday with a surprisingly good turnout at the Falmouth Hotel, considering that many of the usual alumni from overseas were unable to travel, and the current fuel shortage prevented some travelling from up-country.

Good to be back at the Falmouth Hotel
Photo: Silje Lovstad

One past student who made it all the way from Canada was 1980 mining graduate John Sammut, one of my diving 'buddies' from the late 1970s. John now teaches mineral processing as an Industrial Professor of Mining Engineering at the University of Alberta and he is pictured below with me and his contemporary, mineral processing graduate Nick Wilshaw, managing director and founder of Cornwall-based Grinding Solutions Ltd.

Me, Nick and John

It was planned to have two alumni present a pre-recorded after-dinner speech from Ghana, but unfortunately one of them developed Covid a few days before the dinner, so everyone was grateful to 87-year old Dr. Peter Hackett for stepping in to talk about how CSM has changed since his days as Principal from 1970-1994. This very well received talk was followed by a look to the future from the recently appointed head of school Prof. Stephen Hesselbo, and current Student Union President Alice Burdett presented her own overview of recent developments at CSM.

Peter, Alice and Stephen

Peter Hackett was Principal for all but two of my 22 years at CSM, and neither of us could have envisaged the remarkable gender diversity which developed over the following years, and which I remarked on at some length when describing the 2018 Annual Dinner. Back in our time women weren't even allowed underground, but now the Student Union President is a woman and a mining engineer! Alice has just completed her 2nd year in Mining Engineering. She is passionate about pursuing a future career in mining and is currently an intern with British Fluorpar Ltd in Derbyshire.

And also great to see that the Union Vice-President is Alexandra (Lexi) Clarke, a 3rd year geology student currently working as an intern for GemFair and the DeBeers Group for a placement regarding artisanal diamond mining in Sierra Leone. 

Alice and Lexi are photographed below with previous Union Presidents, Mark Whitfield (2013-14), Luc Phillips (2018-19) and Freddie Foster (2020-21).

Mark, Luc, Alice, Lexi and Freddie
Photo: Silje Lovstad

Considering that Annual Dinners in the past were all-male affairs, it is great to see how the mining world is changing.

Photos: Silje Lovstad

Last Saturday's dinner was a wonderful event and we don't have to wait too long for the next one, which is planned for March 2022. The CSM Association, and its student committee, deserve hearty congratulations for organising this event under difficult circumstances, and a special thanks must go to Dr. Carol Richards who has worked tirelessly to bring this to fruition. A big thanks also to the staff of the Falmouth Hotel, for providing great food and exemplary friendly service.


Monday, 4 October 2021

Flotation '21: Nalco Water the latest sponsor, and international awards to two of our young presenters

We are very pleased to announce that Nalco Water, An Ecolab Company, is to sponsor an MEI Conference for the first time, joining the other 21 sponsors of Flotation '21. On September 20th Ecolab Inc., was named a Global Compact LEAD participant for its ongoing commitment to the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative with more than 12,000 participating companies in 160 countries. Ecolab is one of only 37 companies to receive this recognition.

Nalco Water plays an important role in the management of water, from the time it enters a facility until the moment it is returned back into the environment. This is a critical area of all mineral processing operations, including flotation, and will be the subject of a number of presentations in the sessions on Circuits and Plant Practice in the Flotation '21 programme.

Two presentations in Circuits and Plant Practice will be from the Federico Santa María Technical University in Chile, one by Paulina Vallejos and the other co-authored with her colleague Prof. Juan Yianatos. We would like to congratulate Paulina for her “Young Author Award 2020”, a recognition given to the most outstanding work carried out by young people, which were submitted to the International Mineral Processing Council.

Juan and Paulina

Paulina and Juan presented work at Flotation '17. She is a graduate of the Federico Santa María Technical University  and has a Master of Science in mineral processing from the same institution. She currently works as a researcher in the University and as a project engineer in Automation and Supervision Centre for the Chilean Mining Industry, also working as a consultant for the mining industry in Chile and abroad.

Paulina said “they have been years of a lot of work, but it has become a great experience for me; it has been a period of much learning and professional growth. I am very happy and grateful to have received this international recognition, especially from the International Mineral Processing Council, which is a very important entity worldwide in the area of ​​mineral processing. Also, a few weeks ago I was invited to the annual meeting of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM), where my award was recognized. It is very gratifying to see that international institutions recognize our work. Finally, to be the only woman among the six people who received this recognition, It reminds me that there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve gender equality in mining. Personally, I try every day to be a contribution in this regard and I hope to contribute a grain of sand so that in the future we will be more and more present in this area.”

Prof. Yianatos highlighted the importance of this distinction, as it reflects the result of teamwork. “This is the first time that we have the opportunity to highlight a Chilean woman and in addition to the University of Santa Maria, it is an award for joint effort. We have been working in this area for more than 40 years, we have participated regularly in different international congresses. It is a recognition of the work that we do and in particular of Paulina, who, since she graduated from the University, has been a brilliant and outstanding researcher. From a very young age she has presented at international congresses and that naturally makes us proud, because in some way, it is the projection of the work we have done; the credit goes to her because she has been the one who has had the central participation, being at the height of the research that the main universities in the world are doing.” 

Also from Chile, Diego Mesa was another IMPC Young Author Award winner, who will present a paper at the conference on Positron Emission Particle Tracking, with co-workers from South Africa.

Diego obtained his Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering from Universidad de Chile in 2013 where he was also awarded his Master of Science in Extractive Metallurgy in 2015. He then worked as a metallurgical consultant in Chile for over a year before moving to the UK, where he obtained his PhD in the Advanced Minerals Processing Research Group at Imperial College London. He is now a Research Associate at Imperial College, where he continues his research related to froth flotation, collaborating with several partners associated with the FineFuture project, funded by the European Union.

Congratulations Paulina and Diego. I know that you and your co-workers will make a big contribution to the success of Flotation '21.


Friday, 1 October 2021

September update: More Covid restrictions eased but Covid and Brexit create new problems

With children back to school early in the month the crowds in Cornwall began to dissipate, and so did the Covid infection rate. This had been over 800 per 100,000 at the end of August, the highest in the country, but began diminishing early in the month, and by the end of the month was 290 per 100,000 (just 100 times higher than 4 months ago!).

With social distancing no longer mandatory, as over 80% of UK adults have now been fully vaccinated, crowds lined the roads on the 5th of the month as Cornwall hosted the Tour of Britain, elite cyclists travelling 170 kilometres through the Cornish countryside. Starting in Penzance, and ending in Bodmin, Falmouth was on the route, the cyclists passing along the Seafront and around Pendennis Point.

Tour of Britain cyclists on a misty Falmouth seafront

The Cornish Mining Sundowner was back at Falmouth's Chain Locker pub for the first time in 19 months and it was good to hear that face to face teaching would be starting again at Camborne School of Mines the following week, so the feelings were that things were gradually getting back to normal. However, in removing many restrictions, the Government warned that some restrictions might have to be imposed in the winter if cases started to rise again, so although there is much confusion as to where we are going, it is safe to say that the pandemic is not yet over.

A combination of Covid and Brexit (probably more the latter) has led to a desperate shortage of haulage drivers, and many supermarket shelves have been empty and petrol supplies to garage forecourts have led to panic buying. In one of its famous U-turns the Government a few days ago granted temporary visas for foreign haulage drivers and poultry farm workers, but what next- care workers, hospitality workers? It will be interesting to see if these foreign workers take up this generous offer, after having been told, after Brexit, that they were no longer welcome, but can return now until December 24th before being shown the door again.

Are we seeing a slow erosion of Brexit? Regardless of what the UK government says about this being a global crisis due to Covid, Brexit and its consequences are news all over the globe because what is happening here isn’t happening there.

The New European #261

Interestingly there has also been a shortage of carbon dioxide, which is used in the food and drink industry. The carbon dioxide is mainly a by-product of fertiliser production, but fertiliser factories have been halting production due to soaring natural gas prices. The irony of this is that there is apparently no shortage of CO2 in the atmosphere, and expensive options have been put forward to mitigate the rises in content of this greenhouse gas.

The mining and metallurgical industries are major producers of CO2, and expensive carbon capture and storage is one of the prime options for reducing the carbon footprint of these essential industries. Much research is taking place in this field, but a question I asked on social media was wouldn't research on carbon capture and then re-use be a more obvious route?  There are some interesting responses on LinkedIn from those actively involved in such research.

The Times 23rd September

And finally, congratulations to MEI's Amanda, who a couple of weeks' ago undertook a tough 25 km trek in the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. The route took her and her friend Jill to the  summit of South Wales’ highest peak, Pen y Fan.

Amanda was fundraising for First Light, a charity supporting people in the south-west who have been affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence. She is currently training with them to become a volunteer mentor.

Amanda and Jill

September has been yet another "interesting" month, and with energy prices increasing due to high gas prices, and long queues for petrol,  October is also likely to be an interesting month.

The Times, September 29th


Monday, 27 September 2021

Join us online in November for Flotation '21

Such has been the response to the call for abstracts that Flotation '21 has been extended to five days, from November 8-12.

Although we look forward to the day when we can return to face to face meetings, there is no doubt that online events provide an opportunity for many who would not be able to travel to international venues, for various reasons. Flotation '21, being online, has allowed many more workers to get involved, and this year we have around 105 presentations in the programme, with authors from 25 countries.

The packed programme contains two important keynotes. Dr. Kym Runge, of the JKMRC, Australia will discuss developments in flotation circuit diagnostic practice and Jim Finch, Emeritus Professor of McGill University, Canada, will present an appreciation of the life and work of Prof. Graeme Jameson, of the University of Newcastle, Australia, who has attended all but one of the MEI flotation series. Prof. Jameson is well known as the inventor of the flotation cell which bears his name, and is the only mineral processor to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (posting of 15 May 2018).

As well as presenting work at the conference Prof. Jameson will also be part of a panel of experienced practitioners who will be discussing the future of flotation machines and circuits (posting of 9th August 2021). In another panel discussion (posting of 29 August 2021), well-known researchers from around the world will share their views, and take questions from conference delegates on future research needs in flotation.

We are indebted to the support we have had from our conference sponsors, media partners and industry associates and look forward to catching up with representatives in the virtual exhibition

Delegates will also have the opportunity of entering the Glencore Technology Competition, with the prize of a US$2,000 voucher, good for more than 270,000 hotels around the world! Glencore will be featuring the Jameson Concentrator at the conference and in entering the competition, delegates will be invited to guess the throughput of the Jameson Concentrator featured.

It is going to be a very intensive week, but recordings of all presentations, and the panel discussions, will be available on demand for 6 months after the conference. Although this is an online event, there will be opportunities for networking with other delegates each day during one of the breaks. 

Flotation '21 is a conference not to be missed if you have any involvement with this most important of technologies and we invite you to register and interact with like-minded people from around the world.


Thursday, 23 September 2021

A journey through deep time on the Jurassic Coast

We are lucky in Falmouth in having two stretches of coastline nearby which have UNESCO World Heritage status. Thirty miles to the west is the region of Cornwall's submarine mines, while travelling 100 miles east by car or train is the magnificent Jurassic Coast, a 96 mile stretch from Exmouth in Devon, to Studland in Dorset.

Although famous as the Jurassic Coast, it would perhaps have been more appropriately named the Mesozoic Coast, as the exposed cliffs are the sediments of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. There are no igneous or metamorphic rocks and what makes this coastline so fascinating is that a slight tilting east during the Mesozoic, and erosion during the Mesozoic and Quaternary eras, has left continuous outcrops representing 185 million years of the earth's history from the Triassic to the Cretaceous. These sediments are regarded as one of the world’s best stratigraphic sequences from the Mesozoic Era, which lasted from 252 million to 66 million years ago and was distinguished by a rapid diversification of life as well as several major extinctions, notably that of the dinosaurs.

In the Triassic, this area was an arid iron-rich Pangean desert, and in our first short venture out of Cornwall during the pandemic Barbara and I last year walked the first 5 miles of this stretch, from Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton, where the cliffs are composed of New Red Sandstones, the sediments from the tropical desert of around 250 million years ago.

"Britain" (red) during the Triassic, 225 million years ago
Source: Open University

Triassic New Red Sandstone cliffs at Budleigh Salterton, Devon

The Triassic sediments were later covered by shallow Jurassic and Cretaceous seas and the basal rocks were overlain by a middle sequence of Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous marine mudstones, sandstones and limestones, that accumulated as the basin deepened in response to the rifting of Pangea, and an uppermost group primarily composed of Upper Cretaceous to Paleogene chalks. In the mid-Cretaceous, tectonic activity gently tilted the Mesozoic sedimentary layers down to the east. Then the sea level rose and Upper Cretaceous chalks, sands and clays accumulated over the inclined layers,the contact between the top of the tilted section and these Upper Cretaceous layers forming a geological unconformity. The time gap is larger to the west, where the underlying rocks are older than those to the east, so that walking from Exmouth is a journey through 185 million years of Earth history.

The modern landscape formed by quaternary erosion

The coast takes its name from the beautiful Jurassic limestones in the Lyme Bay area and a couple of weeks ago we stayed in Lyme Regis, a world famous haven for fossil hunters, including Mary Anning, who was born in Lyme Regis in 1799, and overcame her low social status, lack of formal education and poverty to become one of England’s greatest fossil hunters. 

Lyme Regis

Mary Anning has been credited with the first discovery of ichthyosaur fossils and helped discover the first specimen of Ichthyosaurus to be known by the scientific community of London. This specimen was probably discovered sometime between 1809 and 1811, when Mary was only 10 to 12 years old. Apart from the ichthyosaurus perhaps her most important find, from a scientific point of view, was her discovery of the first plesiosaur in 1823. These early discoveries shook the scientific community, and challenged the religious thinking of the time, as it was obvious that these fossilised remains, buried deep within sediments, were of a bygone world of many thousands of years ago. Many believed the teachings of the Rev. James Usher, whose chronological research of the Bible established that the creation took place around 6pm on the night preceding Sunday 23rd October 4004 BC. Imagine if they had known that the ichthyosaurus died around 195 million years ago!

Mary Annings humble dwelling in the centre of Lyme Regis is now the Lyme Regis Museum, and an essential stop for anyone visiting this bustling seaside town. Mary, one of the great pioneering paleontologists, was only 47 when she died from breast cancer and she is buried with her elder brother Joseph, who helped her unearth the first ichthyosaurus, in the churchyard of St. Michael the Archangel overlooking the Jurassic cliffs where she toiled for much of her life.

Lyme Regis Museum- the site of Mary Anning's home and fossil shop
Kate Winslet as Mary Anning in the 2020 biopic Ammonite
The grave of Mary Anning and her brother Joseph

Lyme Regis hugs the English Channel coast and to the west the harbour is sheltered by the Cobb, a long curling sea wall, and to the east the cliffs tower over the surrounding landscape, dominated by Golden Cap, at 626 feet, the south coast's highest sea cliff (posting of 9th September).

Barbara on the Cobb
The Jurassic cliffs east of Lyme Regis with Golden Cap on the right

East of the Cobb is Monmouth Beach, and between Lyme Regis and Golden Cap is Charmouth Beach, a mecca for fossil hunters, as locked in the layers of Jurassic shale and limestone, known as the blue lias, are the remains of creatures who once inhabited a vast primeval tropical ocean.

The rapidly eroding blue lias cliffs between Lyme Regis and Charmouth

A short bus ride west into east Devon from Lyme Regis took us into the Triassic at Seaton from where after a short walk we encountered striking white cliffs nestling among the red rocks of the coast to either side. These cliffs, in the village of Beer, offer the last glimpse of chalk for anyone travelling west. The Cretaceous chalk is much younger than the Triassic red mudstone and sandstone that dominate the East Devon coast, and would originally have been laid down on top of them. But at Beer the rocks have been folded downwards, bringing the higher layers of chalk into a snug geological hollow called a syncline, where they were preserved from the millions of years of erosion that stripped the rest of the chalk from the surrounding landscape.

The New Red Sandstone Triassic cliffs of Seaton beach
give way to the Cretaceous chalk of the Beer syncline

The furthest east we got on this trip was to the resort of Weymouth, and hopefully in a future visit we will travel further east to the Jurassic-Cretaceous stratigraphic transition near Lulworth. In the meantime I can thoroughly recommend a visit to this fabulous area, and our wonderful base at Lyme Regis. And you will enjoy it even more if you take with you a little knowledge of the incredible geology of this coast.

Looking across the Jurassic beach at Weymouth to the
Cretaceous chalk cliffs of White Nothe in the east


Monday, 20 September 2021

Complexities and Opportunities for Gold Processing in a Changing Environment

The gradual exhaustion of free milling resources of gold ores has made the gold industry increasingly reliant on complex, refractory gold ores and other non-traditional sources such as leach tailings and electronic waste. However, the extraction of gold from these sources has been associated with significant challenges due to the inability of traditional methods to deal with the complex mineralogical characteristic of such feed material. 

While traditional pre-treatment methods such as roasting, pressure oxidation, bioleaching, etc. and the integration and combination of such techniques in alternative flow sheets have remained key, consideration is, however, now also being given to non-conventional techniques such as mechano-activation, cavitation and ultrasound pre-treatment processes prior to cyanidation. 

At the same time, the extraction of metals has also come under severe scrutiny from both regulators and the public leading to the establishment of stringent environmental laws that have also had a significant impact on the approach to gold processing. These, together with an increasing focus on the circular economy and the drive for responsibility in mining, have forced mining companies and researchers to look at alternative and environmental friendly reagents and to consider cleaner production and process re-engineering for sustainability in gold extraction. In her keynote lecture at Sustainable Minerals '22 Sehliselo (Selo) Ndlovu will discuss the challenges in gold extraction and the opportunities in research and development that have come about as a result of some of the changes happening in the gold hydrometallurgical processing sector.

Selo Ndlovu is a Professor in the School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a PhD in Minerals Engineering from Imperial College, London. She joined the Engineering Faculty at Wits University in 2004 where she has since established a strong teaching and research base in hydrometallurgy, spanning precious and base metals, solid and liquid waste treatment, optimising existing and developing new processes for metal extraction. Selo currently holds the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded SARChI research chair in Hydrometallurgy and Sustainable Development at the university. She is also a former President of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM).


Saturday, 18 September 2021

Prof. Alban Lynch: 1930-2021, the first Director of the JKMRC

There was very sad news from Australia yesterday of the passing of one of the greats of mineral processing, Prof. Alban Lynch, the first Director of the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC). He was a man ahead of his time both in terms of technical innovation and in recognising the need to collaborate with industry. He encouraged his students to work on site and trusted them to find solutions to their research challenges. He led by example and in so doing established the JKMRC as an international leader in mining research.

Prof. Lynch at the JKMRC in the early 1970s

I first met Alban in 1986 when he presented a keynote lecture at the NATO Advanced Study Institute in Falmouth. Seven years ago I had the great pleasure of interviewing him for MEI, and I refer to the posting of 11th August 2014 for a full account of his life and work.  Following the interview I was great honoured when he suggested that he might reciprocate and interview me (posting of 2nd November 2015).

Alban Lynch was a legend in the mineral processing profession, particularly in the field of comminution, and he received many awards during his long career. He was an Officer of the Order of Australia, and in 2010 received what is considered to be mineral processing's top award, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Mineral Processing Congress (posting of 8th September 2010).

Prof. Lynch receiving the IMPC Lifetime Achievement Award
from Prof. Eric Forssberg, Brisbane 2010

In 1958 Alban joined the Dept. of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Queensland (UQ), where he would remain for most of his long career. In 1962 a three year AMIRA project on grinding started at UQ with a group consisting of Alban, two graduate students and two technicians. The theme of the research became the modelling and simulation of grinding circuits. Mount Isa Mines supported the work and this was the start of the tradition of project research being plant based and of graduate students, including T.C. Rao (posting of 16 July 2014) spending months at plants on thesis projects, which had the objectives of improving local circuits and providing data to support the general programme on modelling and simulation. This all culminated in the publication of one of Alban's most well known books, Mineral Crushing and Grinding Circuits.

In 1971 the research group was given strong encouragement by MIM Holdings Ltd when the company established the JKMRC to be its Brisbane base, with Alban Lynch its first Director, a position he held until 1989, when he handed over to Dr. Don McKee, allowing Alban to concentrate on his new role as UQ's Professor and Head of Mining & Metallurgical Engineering, a position he held until 1993. By 1980 models of grinding and flotation circuits were well developed and another book was published Mineral and Coal Flotation Circuits, which Alban co-authored with N.W. Johnson, E.V. Manlapig and C.G. Thorne.

After 6 years as Head of Department at UQ, Alban spent a large portion of the next 15 years lecturing on modelling and setting up research programmes in other countries, notably in Malaysia, Brazil, Mexico and Turkey, also finding time to co-author more books, in 2005 The History of Grinding, with Chester Rowland, in 2010 The History of Flotation with Greg Harbort and Mike Nelson and in 2015 the Comminution Handbook.

Launch of History of Flotation at the 2010 IMPC in Brisbane,
with Mike Nelson and Greg Harbort

Despite his very busy international schedule Alban remained an active member of the JKMRC community throughout his life, and as recently as only 3 months ago he joined the JKMRC staff, students and alumni at the AusIMM MillOps '21 conference in Brisbane.

Our heartfelt condolences are extended to Alban’s family. He will be sadly missed and I invite all those of you who had known this remarkable man to submit your memories and appreciations.