Monday, 26 July 2021

What is the future for journal Impact Factor?

The 2020 Journal Impact Factors (IF) have recently been published, and it is good to see that the IFs for the leading mineral processing journals have all increased. 

Mineral Processing & Extractive Metallurgy Review 5.284
Minerals Engineering  4.765
Hydrometallurgy 4.156
Minerals 2.644
International Journal of Minerals Metallurgy & Materials 2.232
Canadian Metallurgical Quarterly 1.456
Physicochemical  Problems of Mineral Processing 1.213
Minerals and Metallurgical Processing 1.02

The IF for Minerals Engineering has increased from 3.795 in 2019 to 4.765, but Mineral Processing & Extractive Metallurgy Review has shown a marked increase from 2.785 to 5.284, and I must congratulate the editor, Prof. Komar Kawatra of Michigan Technological University, for this remarkable achievement.

With Prof. Kawatra in Phoenix in 2020

Impact Factor is a measure of the frequency with which the 'average article' in a journal has been cited in a particular year and it has become a standard measurement of scientific success, particularly for decisions on hiring and promoting academics. An individual's impact factor is a score that takes into account the number of publications and the citation rate of the journals where those papers are published. This often leads scientists to publish their work in journals with a higher impact factor than those in which their paper might be viewed more widely by others. The table above contains only those journals publishing work in the same field, and it would be unfair to compare their impact factors with those of say Science or Nature, which cover a wide range of disciplines and so are very highly cited.

Among academic researchers, dissatisfaction with use and misuse of the impact factor in evaluations and tenure, promotion and hiring decisions has grown in recent years. A 2018 report called the impact factor “an inadequate measure for assessing the impact of scientists” and concluded that failure to modify the current assessment system is likely to lead to “continued bandwagon behaviour that has not always resulted in positive societal behaviour”. Despite this, a 2019 study found that 40% of research-intensive universities in the United States and Canada specifically mention impact factors or closely related terms in documents related to tenure, review and promotion. Only a few of those references strike a note of caution, and most suggest that a high impact score would be necessary for career advancement.

A recent article in Nature describes how IF is to be abandoned in 2022 by the Dutch University of Utrecht and faculty members will be evaluated by their commitment to teamwork and open science.

The decision to revamp hiring and promotion was partly inspired by the Declaration on Research Assessment, a document created in 2012 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. The declaration aims to “improve the ways in which researchers and the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated” and specifically calls for abandoning impact factors as a way to judge the merit of academics. So far, it has been signed by nearly 20,000 individuals and institutions. Utrecht University signed the document in 2019.

A statement from the University of Utrecht said “Impact factors don’t really reflect the quality of an individual researcher or academic. We have a strong belief that something has to change, and abandoning the impact factor is one of those changes.”

Interesting!  What do all you academics and researchers feel about this?


Sunday, 25 July 2021

Prof. Akbar Farzanegan

Sad news today from Iran of the death of Prof. Akbar Farzanegan, of the School of Mining Engineering, College of Engineering at the University of Tehran.

Prof. Farzanegan received his PhD degree from McGill University, Canada under the supervision of the late Professor André R. Laplante.

His main research was related to mineral processing and applying knowledge-based approach solutions such as population balance modelling and simulation, CFD and DEM numerical simulations to optimize performance of industrial plants. He attended two MEI Conferences, Comminution '06 and Comminution '08. At Comminution '08, when he was at the University of Kashan, he presented a paper "Integration of evolutionary optimization algorithms with a grinding circuit simulator".

Prof. Farzanegan (centre) at Comminution '08 in Falmouth

Our thought are with Akbar's family.

Friday, 23 July 2021

First announcement: Sustainable Minerals '22

The 4th Industrial revolution and the fight against climate change is straining the sustainable use of the Earth’s natural resources due to modern society’s extensive use of metals, materials and products. 

An astute and conscious application and use of metals, materials and products supported by the reuse and recycling of these materials and end-of-life products is imperative to the preservation of the Earth’s resources. The realisation of the ambitions of sustainable use of resources demands that the different disciplines of the material and consumer product system are connected and harmonised, and this was evident in the very encouraging response to Sustainable Minerals '21, the 6th MEI Conference in the series, and the first to be online. 

As much research effort is being put into sustainable mining and processing, it was decided that this series should become an annual event, so Sustainable Minerals '22 is now open for abstract submission.

If your company is committed to sustainability and responsible mining we invite you to sponsor the event and join our early sponsor Zeiss.  We also thank our media partner International Mining, and industry advocates CEEC, the Critical Minerals Association and Cornwall Mining Alliance.

Conference updates will be at #SustainableMinerals22.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Cornwall sizzles

We are enjoying hot weather this week in Cornwall with temperatures over 25C. Although the Government controversially removed most Coronavirus restrictions on Monday, overseas travel is nowhere near back to normal, so the crowds have been pouring into the south west, and Falmouth's main beaches have been busy, although the locals have found relative solitude in the nearby coves.

Falmouth's Swanpool Beach

Gyllyngvase Beach
Solitude on Castle Beach, only a few hundred yards from Gyllyngvase

While most people were relaxing in the sun, MEI's Jon undertook a gruelling 7 and a half hour Coast to Coast Extreme Route Challenge three days ago, cycling 104 miles to raise money for Cornwall Hospice Care. He has been working as a volunteer in one of the Hospice charity shops throughout the pandemic. Well done Jon, an elevation gain of 9,753 feet is pretty daunting!

Monday, 19 July 2021

We welcome Kemtec Africa to Flotation '21

In 2017 we were pleased to announce that Kemtec, a new Australian company, supplying specialty flotation reagents to tackle plant challenges, was to sponsor Flotation '17 in Cape Town. Two years later we welcomed the young company back as a sponsor of Flotation '19.

The company has grown since then and is now a global group of specialised mineral processing reagent companies, located in USA, Australia, Mexico & China, with Kemtec Africa servicing the African continent.  This year we welcome Kemtec Africa as a sponsor of Flotation '21, via its technical sales director, Louis Hoffman, who represented Cytec from Flotation '09 to Flotation '15. Kemtec at Flotation '17 and Kemtec Africa at Flotation '19.

A huge thanks to Kemtec Africa and the other sponsors of MEI's first online flotation conference, and a reminder that, should you wish to present your work at the conference, abstracts should be submitted by the end of August.


Friday, 16 July 2021

July Cornish Mining sundowner: with more news on lithium

Falmouth's Gyllyngvase beach once more provided the venue for the Cornish Mining Sundowner, and on a warm sunny evening is there anywhere better?

It was good to see a number of new faces among the regulars, including Mark Alcock and his wife Linda, who are down here on holiday from Guildford, about 250 miles away. Mark graduated from Camborne School of Mines in 1978 and is now a consultant to HS2, the high speed rail link currently under construction between London and the Midlands and North. It is a highly controversial project, which led to an interesting discussion!

With Mark and Linda Alcock

It is really good to see so many young women graduating in mining these days, and attending her first sundowner was Hannah Matheson, who has just graduated from CSM, and, travel permitting, will soon be taking up her first job as a mining engineer in Perth, Western Australia. Hannah is pictured below with two King Edward Mine Museum stalwarts, Nigel MacDonald and Carol Richards.

In the photo below, the tall man 4th from the left is Hannah's dad, Bruce, who is working on a PhD in mine ethics at CSM.

Geologist Evan Marquis was also attending her first sundowner, having just taken up a post-doctoral research position at CSM's Environment & Sustainability Institute with sundowner regulars Frances Wall and Karen Hudson-Edwards.  In the photo below Eva (left) is with Jane Coll, a geologist at CSA Global.

There was much to talk about last night. The worrying rise in Coronavirus infections in Cornwall after the G7 summit was a topic of conversation, as was the surge in mining developments taking place down in this remote corner of Great Britain.

The rapid growth of renewable energy and electric vehicles means the demand for the minerals they rely on is set to soar. By 2030, the world could need half as much tin again, and for lithium the increase is a massive 500% by 2050 according to the World Bank

The Importance of Mining to Society was the subject of a one hour event hosted by the Critical Minerals Association held in Falmouth in June on the first day of G7

The message was that we need to change our relationship with society to show the value that we can add to a greener society, and the importance of the meeting was that it was attended or relayed to the international journalists present in Falmouth for G7, so it was hoped that they were listening and that the message would get out that mining is essential. 

Lucy Crane speaking to the BBC
One of the speakers was sundowner regular Dr. Lucy Crane, Senior Geologist with Cornish Lithium, and it does appear that the message was heeded as two weeks ago Lucy and Cornish Metals CEO Richard Williams, were featured on the BBC TV National News, explaining the developments in lithium and tin mining in Cornwall (see also the report on last month's sundowner). "If we're going to be producing these metals to go into low-carbon technologies, then it's so important that we extract them as responsibly as possible,” Lucy Crane told the BBC.

The UK is set to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars in 2030, and Nissan has set out plans for a £1bn electric vehicle hub in Sunderland which the Japanese firm says will create 6,000 new jobs at the firm and among its suppliers. With lithium essential for battery production, the BBC asked whether the answer to their supply lies in the rocks of Cornwall? 

KP and son Hendrik
In east Cornwall British Lithium continues to work to sustainably extract lithium from mica in the granite of the St. Austell china clay region, and Chief Metallurgist Klass (KP) van der Wielen told me that the company is seeking to find acid-free solutions to extracting and processing lithium. With the help of £3m of Innovate UK funding the company is building a pilot plant where the lithium will be recovered and processed using recyclable salt as a reagent, rather than toxic chemicals. The pilot plant is in the early stages of construction and is scheduled to become operational in the last quarter of this year.

In west Cornwall Cornish Lithium is currently testing different technologies to extract the metal from the hot geothermal brines a kilometre below the earth, and after removing the lithium injecting the water back underground so the process can be repeated. The energy used to power this process will be from a renewable source, the natural heat from the deep rocks being converted into electricity, making the process carbon-neutral.

Cornish Lithium thinks it could eventually supply about a third of the UK's future lithium needs, the UK’s demand going to be about 75,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate from 2035, which is about a fifth of current total global supply.

Also more good news from Cornish Metals, who have discovered silver at its United Downs copper-tin project. Highlights from one hole drilled to a depth of 260.24m intersected two zones of high-grade mineralisation including a 2.61m wide mineralised intersection averaging 5.2% copper, 1.3% tin and 77g/t silver.

And on 1st July, Geothermal Engineering made history by being the first developer to successfully bring the naturally hot geothermal fluid to the surface and re inject it underground, proving that the novel concept at United Downs works and a power plant can now be installed.

Hopefully there will be more news of developments at the next sundowner, scheduled for Gylly beach again on Thursday 19th August.


Monday, 12 July 2021

Comminution '22 postponed until 2023

As the pandemic continues to rage in many countries, we are sorry to have to announce that Comminution '22, scheduled for Cape Town next April, has been postponed to the following year.

Details of Comminution '23 will be announced in due course, but we would like to take this opportunity of thanking our sponsors, who are continuing to support the conference in these difficult times. 

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Recent comments

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

Controversial "invisible gold" paper published
April update: Coronavirus; tin, the 'forgotten' critical metal; the increasing importance of the mining industry
Gwennap to Carn Marth
Return to Chingola
Tintagel to Port Isaac- a real challenge!
Prof DV Subba Rao, 1954-2021
Memories of the Nchanga Tailings Leach Plant
The Rare Metals War
Agricola's De Re Metallica
We need mining!  At last the popular media is waking up to this
Biomining '21 Day 1
2019 MEI Young Person's Award to Nikhil Dhawan
High capacity microwave treatment of ores may be closer than previously thought
Sustainable Minerals '21 Day 1
Memories of MEGS '01, Falmouth, June 2001
Sustainable Minerals Day 4: Waste processing and panel discussion on the circular economy
Sustainable Minerals '21 is only 5 days away
Prof. Alban Lynch at the AusIMM MillOps '21 conference
June update: the G7 comes to town and so does Covid

We welcome and encourage your comments on blog postings (see also the posting of 2nd April 2019). If you do not have a Google account, the simplest way to add a comment is by selecting 'anonymous' as your profile, but please leave your name and affiliation in the comment. Alternatively, email your comment directly to

Last month there were around 15,000 page views, so interacting with the blog enhances your international presence by providing you, and your company or Institute, with valuable exposure.

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Monday, 5 July 2021

Flotation '21: A final call for abstracts and a welcome to FLSmidth and Zeiss

As most of you will know, Flotation '21, originally scheduled to be held in Cape Town, is now, due to the ongoing pandemic, an online event from November 8-11.

We are pleased to welcome two regular MEI Conference sponsors, FLSmidth and Zeiss, to our list of companies supporting this event, and we thank you all for your continued confidence in this important series. 

Current Flotation '21 sponsors

There is now a final call for abstracts, which must be submitted online by the end of next month, and decisions on presentations will be made no later than early September. If your abstract is accepted you will be asked to submit a recorded presentation for viewing online, and all presentations will be available on demand for 6 months after the event.

After the conference, presenters will be invited to submit papers for peer-review for possible publication in Minerals Engineering. Papers will be handled exclusively by me, as the journal's Editor-in-Chief, and I will take into account discussion at the conference and effectively fast-track the reviewing process.

If your paper is accepted for publication after refereeing, it will be published immediately in the first available regular issue of Minerals Engineering, and included in the Virtual Special Issue of the conference on ScienceDirect. This is an ideal opportunity to present your work to an international audience and have your paper published in a refereed journal of high repute.

Updates on the conference can be found at #Flotation21 and reports on the previous event, Flotation '19 can be found here.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

June update- the G7 summit comes to town, and so does Covid

It's a crazy world!  If asked to choose a least likely venue for a G7 summit of world leaders then high on the list might be Carbis Bay, a small seaside village in the far south-west of Cornwall, serviced by one of Cornwall's notoriously narrow lanes. 

Carbis Bay in quieter times

But this was where the summit was held for 3 days, from 11th to 13th last month, causing massive disruption, which somewhat overshadowed the serious topics, such as the pandemic, and the environment, which were discussed by the seven leaders of the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The head of the Police Federation in England and Wales suggested little thought had been given to security plans, saying that holding G7 in a Cornish resort was 'bonkers' and a security nightmare.

The meeting was held at the Carbis Bay Hotel, alongside a massive security operation, police erecting a "ring of steel" around large sections of the resort, which borders the popular tourist town of St Ives, the G7 leaders being housed at the Tregenna Castle Hotel in St. Ives, which some of you will remember as being the venue for Minerals Engineering '95.

The eyes of the world were on this most beautiful of places last month, but most would be unaware that there is another side to this idyl, poverty and lack of affordable homes, but I will not go into this, instead I refer you to an excellent article by Tanya Gold, who writes with great eloquence on the prostitution of Cornwall.

Over 5000 police staff from across the UK were drafted into Cornwall, around 1000 being accommodated in a large cruise ship moored in Falmouth harbour near the National Maritime Museum (NMM), host to the hundreds of international media representatives. The NMM was, of course, MEI's scheduled venue for last months Biomining '21 and Sustainable Minerals '21, which  were held online due to the pandemic. The cost of policing the summit has been put at £70 million.

The MS Silja Europa and Maritime Museum viewed from Falmouth's inner harbour

Joining the thousands of police officers were hundreds of British troops, including bomb disposal teams and a navy warship, a 400 strong US Secret Service team, and a number of patrol vessels and rigid inflatable boats to help with surveillance. 

HMS Tyne trying hard to blend in to the scene behind picturesque St Ives
Photo: Greg Martin @photogregmartin

Cartoon: Matt-The Telegraph

Falmouth is 24 miles from Carbis Bay, but walking through town was a surreal and unforgettable experience, with a huge police presence, some heavily armed. However, they were without exception friendly and chatty and impressed by the beauty of Falmouth and its coastline.

Officers from Yorkshire take a break by the Fal Estuary at Pendennis Headland

Falmouth was also one of the centres for the various demonstrations that always take place during G7 meetings, and there were large gatherings highlighting the injustices in Myanmar and the Tigray province of Ethiopia.
Demonstrators from Myanmar
Demonstrators from Tigray

The biggest demonstration by far was by Extinction Rebellion, who certainly highlight some of the many problems facing the world, although their methods do not always endear them to the public. Their demands for achieving global zero carbon are also unrealistic, and like many of the public they seem unaware of the importance of mining to produce the raw materials needed for the green revolution (Is zero carbon by 2050 attainable?). Those that I spoke to had never heard of rare earth metals such as neodymium and were sceptical when I told them that in the last 5,000 years, humans produced about 550m tons of copper, but will need to produce that much again in the next 25 years to satisfy the Paris Agreement.

Extinction Rebellion in Falmouth's Kimberley Park
Spreading the word and the virus
Photo: Greg Martin

The Importance of Mining to Society was the subject of a one hour event hosted by the Critical Minerals Association held in Falmouth on the first day of G7. Hosted by Jeff Townsend, the co-founder of CMA, and son of Ian Townsend, well known by many in the mining industry, the speakers were Dr. Lucy Crane, Chair of CMA Perception of Mining Group and Senior Geologist at Cornish Lithium, and John Murray, Founding Principal of the Swann Group, UK.

The message was that we need to change our relationship with society to show the value that we can add to a greener society. There was little in the event that we in our small minerals industry bubble are not already aware of, but the importance of this meeting was that it was part of the G7 weekend and was attended or relayed to the international journalists present in Falmouth, so hopefully they were listening and will make use of it to get the message out that mining is essential. The recording of the live streamed event is available

Meanwhile Covid cases in England were rising at the fastest rate since the winter wave, over 90% of cases being due to the Delta variant first discovered in India. By the middle of the month it was evident that the G7 summit was a super spreading event for Cornwall, cases rocketing 2,450% in areas of Cornwall where G7 events were focused. The area around Carbis Bay, where the summit took place, and Falmouth, where the world’s media were based along with many of the officers policing the event and protesters, are now suffering some of the highest rates of infection in the country, these areas now accounting for more than half of all the infections in Cornwall. The rate of Covid-19 infections in Cornwall during the week to, and including, 13 June rose from 2.8 per 100,000 people on the Sunday before G7 began to 81.7 per 100,000. This compares to a national average of 77.4 per 100,000. 

The rate of infection in St Ives rose 2,450 per cent in the seven day period to 733.2 per 100,000 people in those seven days and in a number of Falmouth districts the rates were more than 500 per 100,000, with Falmouth East hit by a 2,000 per cent rise in infections to 600 per 100,000. The largely unvaccinated young staff in the Cornish hospitality businesses are catching the Delta variant and they and their colleagues are having to isolate as a result. This is closing down pubs, bars and hotels at an alarming rate. 

The Cornish people have not been too impressed with our buffoon of a Prime Minister's hypocritical socially distanced greetings to other G7 leaders and the lack of social distancing at other events:

Photos: BBC

It was no great surprise that, the day after the G7 summit, Boris Johnson announced that the planned complete removal of Coronavirus restrictions on June 21st would be put on hold for a further 4 weeks to allow more of the population to be fully vaccinated. Over 60% of adults in UK are now fully vaccinated, which is an amazing achievement by the NHS. The challenge now is for the G7 leaders to make good their promises of donating vaccines to the poorer nations of the world, as we won't be out of this pandemic until all the world is vaccinated.


Sunday, 27 June 2021

June Cornish Mining Sundowner: news of developments in lithium, tin and kaolin in Cornwall

MEI's Sustainable Minerals '21 ended on Thursday afternoon, after four days of excellent presentations to 105 participants from 17 countries. It would have been great to have been able to get together each evening, but sadly this is not a feature of today's online conferences, so it was really nice to stroll down to Falmouth's Gyllyngvase beach at the end of the 4th day to catch up with around 30 participants for this month's Cornish Mining Sundowner. Originally scheduled for the Chain Locker pub in Falmouth, due to rising Coronavirus infections the lifting of restrictions on June 21st was postponed for a further 4 weeks, but fortunately we were blessed with a beautiful warm evening on the beach.

Joining the regulars were three representatives from the Welsh company Maelgwyn Mineral Services (MMS), sponsors of MEI's next two conferences, Flotation '21 and Comminution '22. It was great to catch up with Steve Flatman and Tim Sandbrook and new recruit James Marsden.

With Steve, James and Tim

MMS were here to pursue their interests in mining developments down in Cornwall, and there has been much going on this month.

Cornish Lithium Ltd is a highly innovative mineral exploration and development company focused on the environmentally-sustainable extraction of lithium from geothermal waters and hard rock in the historic mining district of Cornwall. The company has had much exposure recently in the mainstream media, including the National Geographic Magazine, and has been featured in an excellent video explaining simply why Cornwall has these rich geothermal waters and the approach being adopted to extract the lithium.

Last Monday the company announced that it had successfully completed its latest crowdfunding campaign, raising £6 million in only 20 minutes! The Company has secured agreements with owners of mineral rights over a large area of the county and is using modern technology to re-evaluate the region’s potential for low carbon extraction of lithium and other vital technology metals such as tin, copper and cobalt. A secure domestic supply of such metals is considered vital to the industrial strategy of the UK as it moves towards the production of electric vehicles and a net zero carbon future. Current work is focusing on how best to extract the lithium from the brines. A decision on processing is imminent, and it’s expected that a pilot plant will be ready by the end of March next year.

Simultaneously the company is working to optimise the extraction of lithium from mica minerals, in collaboration with Comminution '22 sponsor Grinding Solutions, and this month announced the formation of a consortium involving Cornish Lithium, Imerys Minerals Ltd and sustainable manufacturing innovation consultancy HSSMI, to assess the potential for co-production of lithium and kaolin (china clay) in Cornwall. The project will assess the potential to produce lithium from waste material produced from both current and historic kaolin operations. 

The project consortium aims to evaluate the economic viability of extracting lithium from zinnwaldite, a lithium containing mica, found in the decomposed granite which also contains kaolin. This could increase the resource efficiency of the mined rock, with the double benefit of making the Cornish kaolin industry even more competitive in international markets, as well as contributing to securing a domestic supply of lithium that is vital to the UK’s transition to renewable energy and a zero-carbon economy.

Kaolin was first discovered in Cornwall in 1746. Since then, Imerys developed to become one of the world’s largest producers of kaolin. Today it employs more than 750 people in east Cornwall, 1100 people in the UK and contributes over £220 million sales per year to the British economy. Imerys supplies, from its Cornish mining and industrial footprint, a large number of growing applications worldwide such as paints, coatings, plastics, ceramics, rubber, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

It was great to have Cornish Lithium CEO Jeremy Wrathall with us last evening, together with Chairman Derek Linfield and Corporate Development Manager Neil Elliott, and they were joined in the photo below by Richard Williams, CEO of Cornish Metals Inc.

Derek, Neil, Jeremy and Richard

Early this month Cornish Metals announced an updated resource estimate for its South Crofty tin-copper project in Cornwall, showing that is is richer than anticipated, as it moves closer to reopening the past producing mine. The Canadian miner, formerly known as Strongbow Exploration, said additional sampling showed a 10% increase in indicated resources to 2.08 million tonnes in both the lower mine and upper mine areas.

The Vancouver-based company is working on re-opening the South Crofty mine, which was closed in 1998 following more than 400 years of almost continuous production.

“As the UK moves towards net zero, Cornwall will be at the heart of the extraction of high-technology metals, growing our economy and establishing a secure and responsible UK supply chain,” said Darryn Quayle, mining specialist at the international trade department.

“At our South Crofty site we’re primarily focused on tin – the forgotten foot soldier of the high-tech world – which is used in absolutely everything that we need for our modern lives, from mobile phones, robotics and computing to power generation and storage,” said Owen Mihalop, Cornish Metals' chief operating officer. High demand for consumer electronics and issues shipping metal out of Asia have created a shortage of tin, pushing prices for the metal near records for the first time in a decade.


Saturday, 26 June 2021

Prof. Alban Lynch at the AusIMM MillOps '21 Conference

MEI was a media partner for last week's MillOps '21 in Brisbane. Unfortunately we could not be represented as Australia has closed its borders until at least the middle of the year, and, of course, we were occupied with Sustainable Minerals '21 which ran at the same time. 

As there is always a high Australian contingent to the Mill Operators conference it was held as a hybrid, with Australian participation at the venue, and online interaction for international delegates.

It was great to see the photo below, of the JKMRC alumni, staff and students with Professor Alban Lynch, the first Director of the JKMRC, who I had the pleasure of interviewing for MEI in 2014. 

Alban will be 91 years old in two months' time, and I would have loved to have caught up with him, as I last saw him at the IMPC in Brisbane in 2010, where he was signing copies of the newly launched History of Flotation, with his co-authors Mike Nelson and Greg Harbort. He also received the IMPC Lifetime Achievement Award at that meeting.

Alban, Mike and Greg at the 2010 IMPC

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Sustainable Minerals '21 Day 4: Waste Processing and Panel Discussion on the Circular Economy

Thursday June 24th

Dr. Anita Parbhakar-Fox is well known at MEI Conferences, having presented work at previous Sustainable Minerals, Biomining and Process Mineralogy events. In 2017 she was featured as a Rising Star, and she has certainly lived up to our expectations, not only as a leading academic but also a hands-on scientist in the field.

Anita with husband Nathan at Sustainable Minerals ’16 in Falmouth,
with (left) Elaine Govender-Opitz of University of Cape Town
Anita with Julie Hunt and Elly van Veen
investigating acid mine drainage at Rio Tinto, Spain

In her keynote lecture this morning, Anita, now a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute, showed that there is an international ‘war on waste’ waging whereby industries and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impacts our linear ‘take-make-dispose’ economy facilitates. The promotion, and in some cases adoption, of circular economy principles has grown in recent years but how has this impacted on the mining industry and, more specifically, mine waste management? 

Fundamentally, we mine waste, not ore. The large tonnages of waste rock handled at mine sites, particularly open cuts, illustrates this. Continued mining in this manner is expected to meet the metal demands of our growing global community. It is therefore imperative that the produced waste is characterised to determine if it can be further utilised following circular economy principles or if it is truly waste how can it be disposed to minimise environmental risk? 

Anita’s keynote was the first presentation of 11 papers on waste processing, ranging from the recovery of critical minerals and gold from mine wastes to the production of geopolymers from mine wastes as an alternative to classic concrete. It was good to have our first paper from China in our online conferences, on the recovery of lanthanum and cerium from rare earth polishing powder wastes, given by Dr Yan Wang of the Chinese Academy of Science.

These presentations set the scene for the mid-day panel discussion “What are the limits to achieving a circular economy?”, chaired by conference consultant Prof. Markus Reuter, of the SMS-Group, Germany. Joining the keynote speakers, Anita Parbhakar-Fox, Anna Littleboy and Luis Marcelo Tavares as panelists, was Dr. Peter Radziszewski, of Rampart Detection Systems, Canada.

Markus began with a brief history of the Sustainable Minerals series and the continued quest for a circular economy.

There was very wide ranging discussion in this 100 minute session, with very lively interaction from conference delegates. As with all the presentations, the panel discussion is available on demand for all registered delegates until the end of the year.

Due to two very late withdrawals the final session of the conference, on Energy, contained only 2 presentations, from Australia and Canada. However, we are proud to have as one of our Industry Advocates, the Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution (CEEC), a highly respected organisation founded 10 years ago thanks to the vision of Gekko’s Elizabeth Lewis-Gray.  CEEC brings industry leaders together to tackle the challenges of comminution, which accounts for around 3% of the world’s electrical energy consumption, and to mark their 10th anniversary we were pleased to share a short video from CEEC.

Some of CEEC’s Driving Force
L-R: Janine Herzig, Greg Lane, Michael Myllynen, Alison Keogh,
Aidan Giblett, Clare Edwards, Tim Napier-Munn and Joe Pease

Closing the conference Jon thanked our sponsors and industry advocates once more, as well as the six exhibitors, and of course our 105 delegates and those who delivered presentations, of a consistently high standard. Despite the time zone problem, presentations were well attended, and the facility for viewing recordings on demand at a more convenient time led to extremely useful online discussions.

It is evident from the presentations over the past four days that to sustain the supply of the many minerals that are involved in clean and renewable technologies, ranging from base metals such as copper and zinc to strategic minerals such as rare earths and cobalt, will require more mining, innovative processing technologies and more emphasis on recycling. The Sustainable Minerals series is thus of vital importance in bringing people together to discuss these important issues, so a decision has been made to make the conferences annual events, the next one, Sustainable Minerals ’22, scheduled for July 11-14 next year. We invite all companies with green credentials to consider early sponsorship of this event.

We now invite all who attended to submit their views and comments, which will be of great help to us in organising future online, and then hopefully hybrid events. The comments received via Twitter can be found at #SustainableMinerals21.

MEI's next online conference is Flotation '21, and if you would like to present at this major event, abstracts should be submitted by the end of August.