Friday, 26 August 2016

Memories of Minerals Engineering '96

With Nick and Pauline Clarke of CSM Associates Ltd

Minerals Engineering '96, organised with CSM Associates Ltd, shortly before the birth of MEI, was our first venture into Australia, and it began in Brisbane 20 years ago today.

Below are a few of the photographs from our archives. I remember some of the names and faces, but not all, so maybe you could help in putting names to some of the faces.

Tim Napier-Munn at the registration desk

BW, Tony and Jennie Holland-Batt, John Mosher, Barbara Wills

Jim Watson, Barbara, Ted Bearman, BW, ?, ?, ?

Nick Welham, Jannie van Deventer, BW, Mark Hargrave

Ted Bearman, BW, Martin Moloney, Claire Bearman, Alan Fearon and Nick Clarke
Twitter @barrywills

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Problems with MEI email service

We are experiencing major server problems at the moment, so until further notice please address all emails to:

Barry Wills:
Amanda Wills:
Jon Wills:

Apologies for the inconvenience

Monday, 22 August 2016

New Book: Extractive Metallurgy of Rare Earths, 2nd Edition

Employing four decades of experience in the rare metal and rare earths industry, Nagaiyar Krishnamurthy and Chiranjib Kumar Gupta, the authors of Extractive Metallurgy of Rare Earths, Second Edition, have updated the most important developments in rare earths extractive metallurgy over the past 10 years. The book emphasises advances made in rare-earth materials processing (converting a rare-earth metal, alloy, or compound to a device-ready material), breakthroughs in the area of rare-earth separation, and now includes a chapter on the recycling of rare earth elements from magnets, batteries, and phosphors among others, covering both manufacturing scrap or materials in end of life devices.
This second edition presents comprehensive, detailed, and up-to-date coverage that includes:
•All aspects of rare earth extractive metallurgy
•A status of rare earth extraction from various world resources
•Flow sheets that can be used for rare earths separation, metal reduction, alloy making, refining and end product materials preparation
•Techniques of various rare earths recycling options
•An outline of environmental issues in rare earths mining and processing
•Methods of rare earths determination and analyses of components and impurities in rare earth materials
•Information extensively linked to primary literature with a complete listing of references
•A narration of the changing scenario of world rare earth resources and possibility of their exploitation

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The south bank of the Helford River

The stretch of the Helford River between Helford Village and Gillan Creek is a relatively easy, if not particularly inspiring, 3 mile walk. Much of the coastal path lies under the dense canopy of woodland along the bank of the river, which clears only occasionally to provide views of the secluded beaches and rocky inlets between the village and the mouth of the river at Nare Head.
The view of Helford Passage on the north bank from Helford Village
Nare Head
Arriving a Gillan Creek, the only viable option, rather than a long detour inland, was a wade across the creek, but as this was not possible due to the state of the tide, I retraced my steps from here.
Gillan Creek
This is not a walk that I would strongly recommend to anyone visiting Cornwall. The Helford River is certainly beautiful, but the north bank from Helford Passage to Falmouth is by contrast one of the most scenic on the south coast.
Twitter @barrywills

Friday, 19 August 2016

Much scepticism about the Cornish tin revival

Despite last evening being warm and dry, there was an unusually low turn-out for the monthly Cornish Mining Sundowner, at Falmouth's Chain Locker pub.

The Sundowner is always a good place to hear common sense opinions of what is happening in the mining industry, and also what is not happening, or likely to happen.
There has been much chatter lately on social media, and also in the local and national press, of a resurgence in Cornish tin mining. South Crofty in Camborne has been shut for almost two decades and most of its workings are flooded. But Strongbow Exploration, a Canadian company that bought it out of administration this year, is confident that industry economics support a restart.
Last year Australian company Wolf Minerals commenced operations at the Drakelands tungsten-tin mine in Devon, the first new metal mine in the UK in over 40 years (posting of 17 September 2015), and although rumour has it that Drakelands is struggling due to refractory ore problems and low metal prices, Strongbow believes that Cornwall is an obvious place to share the revival, as the county once dominated global supplies of copper, and later tin, before the global tin price crash of the 1980s brought a halt to operations.
While the local economy has shifted to tourism, Cornwall is still very much mining friendly. This summer 130,000 people saw the “Man Engine”, a 10m-high mechanical puppet, marched across the county to celebrate the decade since mining sites were given Unesco “world heritage” status (posting of 7 August 2016).
However, talking to a few of the "old-timers" last night, who, like me have witnessed the fluctuating fortunes of the Cornish industry over the past half century, it is evident that there is a great deal of scepticism around the claims, and a feeling that we have heard it all before, South Crofty being known in some circles as "Wheal Two-Years"!
Nearly seven years ago (posting of 14 December 2009) I reported that the then new owners of South Crofty, Western Union Mines, had recruited ex-CSM student John Webster to bring the mine back into operation within two years, developing the other ore-types that had been discovered, containing copper, zinc, silver, lithium and indium, which could make South Crofty a true polymetallic mine, that could take advantage of fluctuations in metal prices, rather than be at the mercy of tin prices. Five months later (posting of 10 May 2010) Western Union Mines raised hopes higher by announcing a potentially lucrative new source of income- gold, assaying about 1.6g per tonne.
However, almost a year later (posting of 11 February 2011) problems led to the lay-off of 16 of its 60 workers, but the company reported that it hoped to employ up to 400 staff within two years, and that indium could be the saviour of the mine, as up to 1000g per tonne had been found in some assays, leading the local member of Parliament to say “This is an exciting time. It may be too early to call it a modern-day gold rush, but let’s hope it’s an indium rush. Demand for this element keeps growing. This would be a state of the art facility and help resurrect mining in Cornwall.”
All this optimism came to an end in June 2013 when the mine went into administration, and now three years later we are promised once more that the mine will commence operations in 2 years time.
The fact that it operated until 1998 gives South Crofty advantages, including mineral rights and a mining licence that lasts for decades. “If it were not for having the mining permit in place we would not be here today,” Richard Williams, Strongbow’s Wales-born chief executive is reported to have said. He says that South Crofty, where 400,000 tonnes of tin is estimated to have been mined over the centuries, is still a “world-class deposit”, with 2.5m tonnes of ore containing an estimated 44,000 tonnes of tin, and potential for more.
But the problems of re-starting a deep mine such as South Crofty are immense and the investment required would be huge. In order to pump the flooded workings dry within a viable period the company needs permission to more than double the permitted level of discharges. And presumably the water would be discharged, via the old adits, into the nearby Red River, which discharges into the area around Godrevy on the north Cornwall coast (posting of 16 October 2015), as would the tailings from the processing plant? And what of the processing plant? - the old comminution, DMS and gravity concentrator has been left to rot since the mine closure nearly 20 years ago, such that a completely new plant would need to be designed and built.
So although I would love to report, in two years time, of the start-up of a new operation in the Camborne-Redruth area, I think the opinion last night was 'don't hold your breath'.
Twitter @barrywills

Monday, 15 August 2016

Bill Johnson to present Flotation '17 keynote on increasing metallurgical and energy efficiencies

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Bill Johnson, Senior Principal Consulting Engineer, Mineralis Consultants Pty Ltd and Adjunct Professor, JKMRC, SMI, University of Queensland, into the MEI fold.
Bill is well known for providing technical courses for professional development of metallurgists from industry and in 1981 was co-author, with Alban Lynch and others, of Mineral and Coal Flotation Circuits: Their Simulation and Control.
Bill has had extensive industrial and academic experience, and on joining the CSIRO Division of Mineral Engineering in 1978 his main project was research on the Zinc-Lead Concentrator at Mount Isa Mines Limited. In 1982 he moved to Mount Isa where he continued applied research on the difficult ore treated in the Zinc-Lead Concentrator and other plants and ores of MIM Holdings, becoming the Minerals Processing Research Manager (1989-1997) of the laboratory and pilot plant facilities at the operating site in Mount Isa (see also posting of 13 November 2013).
Development of a circuit for McArthur River zinc-lead ore recommenced in August 1989 under his direction; this ore had even more difficult properties than the Mount Isa zinc-lead ore, well known for its difficult properties; one important outcome of the McArthur River project was the IsaMill technology, for which he and his colleague Joe Pease, a keynote lecturer at this year's Comminution '16, have been nominated in the comminution section for the 2016 International Mining Hall of Fame, the results of which will be announced in October. The photo below shows the Mount Isa Mines mineral processing research team in 1995, with Joe 6th left and Bill 8th left.
Bill will present his keynote in the Applications section of Flotation '17 in Cape Town, the Fundamentals keynote lecturer being Prof. Roe-Hoan Yoon. Dr. Johnson will discuss the wide range of opportunities which exist for greatly increasing the efficiency of concentrators, in their design and by retro-fitting existing concentrators, but exploitation of the opportunities will depend on the perceived urgency for this change within the mineral industry by companies. The industry has left behind a recent decade of unusually high product prices which resulted in an emphasis on “production at almost any cost” and which resulted in an emphasis on rapidly designing, constructing and operating new concentrators, reducing the scope for innovation in the concentrator and increasing reliance on some standardization of the designs.
He will show how, for each deposit, the design and operation of a concentrator should be considered within the framework of optimisation of the total mining/processing sequence. It would be necessary to evaluate the potential for identification and rejection of low grade uneconomic portions of the mined material for each deposit. The evaluation would recognize those deposits for which the approach is applicable, resulting in an improvement of feed quality early in the mining/processing sequence. This aspect, which at present often only receives cursory attention for most design studies, can also be assessed for an existing mining/processing sequence for which retro-fitting is a possibility. Within a new concentrator important options giving improvements in metallurgical and energy efficiencies will be described. Some of these options may also be implementable for an existing concentrator.
He will also consider some important concentrator designs from the past, because of the instructive design approaches and because of their relevance for future designs.
There is a lot to look forward to at Flotation '17!
Twitter @barrywills