Monday, 24 July 2017

What is the point of world University rankings?

The ShanghaiRanking Consultancy (SRC), which claims to be the official publisher of the Academic Ranking of World Universities, has published its rankings of mining and mineral engineering university departments for 2017.  I am sure that those listed in the top 10 will be very pleased with this publication, but I am equally sure that many departments will feel that they have been hard done by, particularly when the listing is compared with the 2017 QS World Ranking of Top Mineral & Mining Universities. I criticised the QS list in 2016 (posting of 5th April 2016), as many of the ranked universities did not have minerals departments, which makes you wonder how these lists are put together.
For the 2nd year running the Colorado School of Mines is #1 in the QS ranking, but only merits #45 by the SRC. The top ranked SRC university, the admirable University of Science and Technology Beijing, does not merit a place in the QS rankings!
Of the universities in the listings, there is only one which appears in the top 10 of both listings- the University of Queensland. The world renowned Camborne School of Mines does not appear in the top 50 of either listing.
So I ask once again- what is the point of these listings? At best they are controversial, and at worst they create much ill-feelings and despondency, and I am sure can be very damaging to the reputation of many departments.
Twitter @barrywills

Friday, 21 July 2017

Back to Falmouth for the July Cornish Mining Sundowner

There was a great turn-out last night for the July Cornish Mining sundowner, and it was good to see so many final year Camborne School of Mines students, who will be graduating this week.
The sundowner was back in Falmouth, this time on the terrace of the historic Greenbank Hotel, on the bank of the Penryn River.
The Greenbank Hotel opposite Flushing on the Penryn River
The Greenbank Hotel started as a private residence and dates back to at least 1640. Later, the beautiful building became an inn and because of its perfect position across the Penryn river from Flushing village, it was used as the original drop off and collection point for the Flushing Ferry. One of its claims to fame is that in 1907, Florence Nightingale stayed at the hotel and her name can still be seen in the guest book by reception. Additionally, Kenneth Grahame stayed at the hotel between the spring and autumn of 1907, and wrote letters to his son, which later formed the stories for The Wind in the Willows.
Camborne School of Mines students with lecturer Pat Foster
Some of the sundowner regulars
I was particularly pleased to meet James Strong, Marketing Manager for Comminution '18 sponsor Grinding Solutions Ltd, and to accept his invitation for MEI to be a media partner for their Technical and Innovation Workshop in Portugal this September, which will also be followed by a sundowner. A set of presentation titles and descriptions for the session, which will be on the afternoon of Friday 29th September, is now available here.
With Grinding Solutions marketing manager James Strong, and metallurgists Jon Rumbles and Klaas (KP) van der Wielen
The next sundowner will be at The 'Front pub in Falmouth on August 24th, and is open to anyone with an interest in the mining industry who is in Cornwall at that time.
Twitter @barrywills
 

Monday, 17 July 2017

A Rising Star: Monica Kalichini

 
I first met Monica Shamvuse Kalichini at Comminution '12 in Cape Town, where she represented First Quantum Minerals' Kansanshi Mine, Zambia.  Since then she has impressed us at various MEI Conferences with her increasing confidence and professionalism.  At Flotation '13 she presented her first paper on behalf of First Quantum Minerals, while studying for her Masters in Engineering at the University of Cape Town.
Monica (front row centre) at Flotation '13 with other young scientists
who were presenting papers for the first time at an international conference
During her time at UCT her research focused on sulphidisation and flotation of non-sulphide copper minerals which exposed her to the importance of process mineralogy and its application in understanding flotation response, and at Process Mineralogy '14 she was back representing Kansanshi, working with conference sponsor Zeiss on the first site-based scanning electron microscope. 
Gaynor Yorath, Megan Becker and Igor Tonzetic with Monica and the Zeiss Mineralogic at Process Mineralogy '14
She worked at First Quantum Minerals' Kansanshi Mine for 6 years, but this year she was at Process Mineralogy '17 as a senior project metallurgist for Nevsun's Bisha mine in Eritrea. 
Monica with delegates at Process Mineralogy '17
Monica is 29 years old, and  obtained her Bachelors in Mineral Science from the University of Zambia (UNZA) in 2010 and her Masters in Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from the University of Cape Town in 2015.  She says that when she started her undergraduate studies at UNZA, she had no clue what mineral processing was.  "I just knew I was going to start my first year in Natural Sciences and find my way to chemistry (my favourite science)".  In her second semester, the School of Natural Science arranged for all the science based faculties to give a talk to the first year students on why they should pick a career in the disciplines they taught.  "That’s when I first encountered the one person that has inspired me the most academically and professionally- Professor Stephen Simukanga.  He talked about mining in general and focused on metallurgy and a fire just ignited in me.  I knew exactly how and where I wanted to apply myself- in mineral processing.  I have not looked back since".
Monica feels privileged to have been part of the team that launched the first site based Scanning Electron Microscope for process mineralogy while working at Kansanshi, the project allowing her to see first hand the financial value a mineral processing plant gains from routine mineralogy to drive continuous improvement projects.  It also gave her the opportunity "to meet some great people that are doing amazing work in this space at Zeiss, Petrolab and MinAssist".  She says that she thrives on seeing fundamental concepts we learn and write about applied in reality so "I was very happy to be able to present our findings from this at the Process Mineralogy ’17 conference". 
"My new role with Bisha mine has me working with a completely different type of deposit (VMS)", she said "and has exposed me to a different set of minerals- in particular, this is the first time I have worked on sphalerite.  The mineralogy and flotation chemistry here is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I look forward to all the projects that we are going to undertake. I’ve had to start reading my old chemistry text books again!"
Monica at Bisha with Andri Wiratama (Senior LOM Planner)
and Jason Harris (Senior Project Geologist) 
In the short term, Monica is focusing on a better understanding of flotation chemistry and linking this to mineralogy and eventually optimized reagent suites. She is also excited about starting her doctorate programme soon and to applying mineralogy to better understand, predict and mitigate the environmental impact of mining.  Her long term plan is full time research and teaching.
Although a dedicated young scientist, Monica has many outside interests. "I took up mountain biking late last year and although I still fall off my bike (often), I am enjoying it a lot" she says.  She also enjoys travelling and has committed to rediscovering the beauty that is Zambia, so has been touring it quite a bit recently.
Touring Zambia with her best friend Wakunoli Munalula,
 who is a Process Control Engineer at Kansanshi Mine
Monica is a true Rising Star and we expect to see and hear much more of her in the future.
Twitter @barrywills

Saturday, 15 July 2017

We welcome back Bruker, the 2nd early sponsor of Process Mineralogy '18

The Bruker team, representing the German, Australian and South African offices, is always out in force at MEI's Process Mineralogy conferences, and has sponsored all the previous conferences in the series.
The Bruker booth at Process Mineralogy '17
So it is great to welcome them all back for the 5th time to Process Mineralogy '18. Together with regulars Zeiss they are the first early sponsors of next year's event in Cape Town.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

A short break in London for the IOM3 Awards dinner

Barbara and I spent a couple of days in London earlier in the week, to attend a very special black-tie event at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) in the City of Westminster, at which the President of IOM3, Martin Cox, presented the Institute's Premier Awards (see posting of 12 April).
Premier Award Winners
In his address, Martin said, "It takes significant application to get to the IOM3 Awards, and we are very pleased to provide the recognition to individuals for their achievements this evening." The medals and prizes that were given out acknowledged individuals and local society groups for their achievements, published work and contributions to the profession. I was proud to receive the Medal for Excellence which I dedicated to my family, Barbara, Amanda and Jon - the MEI team, and thanked Prof. Hylke Glass, of Camborne School of Mines, for nominating me for the award.
While in London we also took the opportunity to wander around Westminster, made easier these days thanks to Google Maps.  It is many years since we last visited London as tourists, our main reason for travelling regularly from Cornwall being to access Heathrow and Gatwick airports!
London is an incredible capital city, alive with entertainment and a rich history. It is dynamic, bustling with visitors from all around the world, those from overseas making the most of the weak value of sterling after the Brexit referendum.
So a memorable couple of days, but nice to be back to appreciate the tranquillity of Cornwall.
Twitter @barrywills