Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Carbon Capture and Storage- possible perils

One of the themes of MEI's Climate Change and the Minerals Industry '11 conference is the development of new technology, such as carbon capture and storage.

This all looked so promising - tidy carbon dioxide away underground and forget about it. But even as the US's first large-scale sequestration operation is getting off the ground at the Mountaineer plant in West Virginia , geophysicists are concerned that burying the carbon could trigger earthquakes and tsunamis, according to an article in New Scientist.

The full story can be found on MEI Online.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Growing International Audience for Flotation ‘09

You can now take a look at the current delegate list for Flotation ’09, which will be held in the beautiful Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town, in November. We will be updating this list every Friday until the beginning of the conference.

If you would like to register for the event, we advise that you do so as soon as possible, and reserve your accommodation, as Cape Town is very busy in the spring. We have only one 3m x 2m exhibition booth available for rental at present, so if you wish to exhibit your products or services you should also register without delay.

The current programme is also available for viewing.

The two faces of India

It is 20 years since I was in India. as a visiting lecturer at the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad (left), situated in Bihar, India's poorest province (below).

I found India a deeply disturbing place. I had seen crushing poverty in Africa, and other parts of Asia, but not on the scale that I found in India, where beggars were dying in the streets and the future for the lowest caste 'untouchables' was hopeless.


I always remember a small boy, not much older than my grandsons, his only possession a dirty blanket, sleeping among the rats between the rails of Calcutta station. It was evident that the country was so impoverished that it could do little to help these people.

Even now India is one of the highest recipients of British overseas aid, a sizeable amount of which helps to provide potable water in rural areas. Ironic therefore that India is now spending millions discovering water on the moon!!

What is an industrial mineral?

We have received a number of abstracts for Processing of Industrial Minerals '10, which we have had to reject, as the authors do not seem to know what defines an industrial mineral.

A good definition can be found in A Dictionary of Earth Sciences (1999):

An industrial mineral is any earth material of economic importance, excluding metal ores and fuels; e.g. barite, fluorite and china clay (kaolin).

In general industrial minerals are extracted from non-metallic ores, although some ores can produce an industrial mineral or a metal product. For instance chromite ores are the source of metallic chromium, or can be concentrated to produce chromite, an industrial mineral used for refractory bricks.

The conference in Istanbul is therefore concerned with the processing of any industrial mineral. The scope of this conference also includes coal preparation, although coal is not classified as a mineral.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Wishing you a speedy recovery, Guven


Further to yesterday's posting, Guven Onal has emailed to let me know that he has been in hospital in the USA for the past month, after suffering a heart attack. He is now back home, resting, in Turkey.
We all wish you a very speedy recovery Guven.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Conference Memories, IMPS '86, Izmir

The first of the biennial Turkish International Mineral Processing Symposia was held in Izmir in September 1986, and I had the honour of presenting the first paper on research needs in mineral processing.

My session chairman was Prof. Guven Onal (2nd right in photo) of Istanbul Technical University. Guven is the consultant to MEI's Processing of Industrial Minerals '10 conference, to be held in Istanbul in February.

The IMPS events have proved to be successful enjoyable affairs, and I also attended the Antalya conference in October 1992, Jon representing MEI in Antalya last year.

Next year's event will be held in Cappadocia, and MEI is a media sponsor, so I look forward to renewing acquaintances at this beautiful location.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Microwave Technology Reviewed

The potential of microwave technology, which exploits the differing thermal dielectric properties of minerals to enhance grain boundary fracture, has been understood for more than 20 years, but has not been considered commercially viable until recently because of the large amount of energy required.
However recent developments, such as pulsed microwave technology may overcome this.
As microwave technology is aimed at improving mineral liberation, its major use will probably be in comminution, and will bring real advantages to the processing of ores, such as diamonds, where the valuable mineral needs to be recovered intact.
However there are many other aspects of mineral processing and extractive metallurgy where the use of microwaves will have importance, and two good reviews by Chris Pickles have recently been published in Minerals Engineering (Volume 22 Issue 13, 2009). The first paper reviews the fundamentals, and the other potential applications.
MEI held its first inaugural microwave technology conference last year in Cape Town, and we would be interested in hearing from anyone who might be interested in presenting work, should we decide to proceed with a 2nd event in the next year or so.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Conference Memories- SME Fall Meeting, St. Louis, 1986

The first time that I ever presented a paper at a conference was in September 1986 at the SME Fall Meeting in St. Louis. It was also my first visit to the USA.
I don't remember much of the conference, apart from meeting Prof. John Ralston for the first time. John was one of the first people that I invited to join the editorial board of Minerals Engineering in 1987, and he was a fine reviewer who resigned only two years ago, due to pressure of work and to allow for new blood. He is currently director of the prestigious Ian Wark Research Institute at the University of Adelaide.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Conference organisation

There is an interesting discussion building up on the Minerals Engineers group at LinkedIn.

Entitled "Organising conferences: is it a profit-making venture?", and initiated by Fathi Habashi of Laval University, Canada, it is leading to a general discussion on Society conferences, privately-organised conferences and the IMPCs.

If you are a minerals engineer, and not yet a member of the group at LinkedIn, I recommend that you join, as there are some useful discussions there. You may also be surprised by who you see in the group.

Monday, 14 September 2009

What next for flotation research?

Flotation '09 is looking like it will be as successful as the previous event in Cape Town 2 years ago. There is a very full international programme, only two exhibit booths remain available for rental, and the conference is still eight weeks away!!
Flotation was patented over 100 years ago, so it is amazing how research continues to be so intensive in this area. In the 1990's column flotation was being researched by just about everybody, there were books published and conferences dedicated solely to this process. Judging from the comments on the MEI Online Forum, however, columns may not have lived up to their earlier expectations, and there is only one paper at Flotation '09 with 'column' in the title. Very large mechanical cells now seem to be in vogue.
Which all leads me to the question, where is flotation research going? I would like your views on what you feel might be the favoured topics in say five years' time. Reducing energy consumption must be one of the priorities?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Conference Memories- NATO Conference, Falmouth, 1986























Enthused by my experiences at the NATO conference in Turkey
I thought it might be a good idea to organise something similar, so a colleague of mine, Bob Barley, and I put together a 2-week NATO ASI Mineral Processing at a Crossroads which ran in Falmouth in April 2006.
It was a great fortnight, and I met for the first time people who would become respected colleagues and friends over the following years, notably Jim Finch, the late Gilles Barbery, Alban Lynch, Pom Somasundaran, Jim Watson, Richard Williams and many more.
Photos, from top:
  • Richard Mozley, Roger Parker, Steve Boyes, L. Lazaridis
  • NATO group at St. Mawes
  • Gulhan Ozbayoglu, Irfan Bayraktar, Savi Ozbayoglu, and me at Bassett Mines, Camborne
  • At the conference hotel: Geoff & Sandra Slater, Barbara Wills, Derek Ottley, John Monhemius, Wally Kop, Les Adorjan and Steve Boyes
  • The full NATO Group

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Lunch with Keith Atkinson




Barbara and I had a very pleasant lunch today with Keith and Maureen Atkinson. Keith was Director of Camborne School of Mines and, until his retirement last year, Provost of the University of Cornwall.
Those who attended the first three Minerals Engineering conferences in Singapore in 1991, Vancouver in 1992 and Cape Town in 1993 may remember that Keith opened the conferences, representing CSM.
The picture on the right was taken at Minerals Engineering '93 in Cape Town. Left to right: Ian Jackson, Richard Pascoe, Kirsty Walker, Gareth Brown, BW, Paul Hodgskinson, Keith Atkinson, Gaynor Yorath and Chris Martin.

Risky Business

Risk management is a vital decision-making tool in modern industry and commerce. Since virtually every decision involves some element of uncertainty, and because there are risks inherent in most of the key issues facing companies today, the ability to understand risks and manage them effectively is an important ingredient for success. This is particularly true when assessing complex and large scale decisions where considerable capital is involved.

In such cases, risk-based approaches have been shown to be highly effective because they enable decision makers to make informed management choices based on structured information and analysis and to demonstrate the basis of their decisions.

MEI’s inaugural conference Risk-Based Approaches to Major Decisions ’11, organised in association with RMRI, will be held in the beautiful Cornish town of Falmouth in May 2011 and will look at areas in the construction, management and operation of large scale assets where adopting a risk-based approach to decision-making offers advantages in terms of both reduced risks and commercial benefit. Novel areas of application will be discussed and innovative techniques that are demonstrably cost effective will be introduced.

Examples of areas to be covered include:

Capital investment decisions and project evaluation
Project management
Inspection, testing and maintenance

Anyone with responsibility for design, construction and operation of large scale plant in industries such as mining, oil and gas and petrochemical will benefit from attendance.

Two other MEI conferences immediately precede Risk ’11, at the same venue. Sustainability through Resource Conservation and Recycling ’11 will be followed by Climate Change and the Minerals Industry ’11. An interesting week in a great setting.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Conference Memories 1963- from Fathi Habashi

Submitted by Prof. Fathi Habashi, Laval University, Canada:

I first met Albert W. Schlechten (1914-1984) in 1963 when he was the session co-chairman together with Douglas Fuerestenau when I presented my work on cyanidation at the [First] International Conference on Hydrometallurgy that took place in Dallas, Texas in January 1963 (Figure1). Schlechten was Head of the Department of Metallurgy at Colorado School of Mines and a co-worker with the Luxemburg metallurgist Wilhelm Kroll (1889–1973) when they were together at the US Bureau of Mines in Albany, Oregon. On his retirement Kroll donated funds he received from his royalties for the titanium invention to Colorado School of Mines which was destined to create the Kroll Institute for Extractive Metallurgy in 1974. When I was teaching at Montana School of Mines from 1964-67 Schlechten used to come to Butte often because he was a Montana graduate.

Photo: Albert W. Schlechten (1914-1984) [center] co-chairing a session at
International Hydrometallurgy Conference [Engineering and Mining Journal, 1963].

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Increasing comminution efficiency should be a research priority

I have been discussing the climate change posting of 22nd August with Tim Napier-Munn, former Director of Australia’s JKMRC.

He reminded me that that well over half of the energy used in mining is consumed by comminution, which is an incredibly inefficient process, only 1-2% of that energy being used to create new surface.

Increasing comminution energy efficiency could decrease world carbon emissions by detectable amounts, so intensive research in this area is vital.
One of the major themes of next year’s Comminution ’10 in Cape Town is the improvement in environmental sustainability while driving down costs, by designing and operating energy efficient circuits and designing for the next generation of mines.

I hope that comminution research will also be highlighted at Climate Change and the Minerals Industry in Falmouth, in May 2011.

Nickel price set to rise?

Some encouraging news for next year's MEI conference on nickel processing. According to a report by Minara Resources, the nickel price is expected to rise by about 9% in the 2010 financial year amid signs of recovery in China's stainless steel market.
Minara Resources chief executive Peter Johnston says "Nickel demand and production in 2009 decreased 20 per cent and we're expecting a rebound of about nine per cent in 2010."
The nickel price is now about $US18,300 ($A21,798), which compares to a high of about $US55,000 ($A65,515) a tonne at the height of China's steel-making boom in 2007 and a 2008 low of $US8,900 ($A10,601) as it curtailed steel production.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Anyone interested in Cornish Mining History?

I met up with Tony Clarke yesterday. Anyone who visited Camborne School of Mines from the early 70s to 1998 would probably have met Tony. An enthusiastic Experimental Officer, he looked after the mineral processing laboratories and pilot plant and was always keen to show people around. It was a pleasure to work with him during my 22 years at CSM.
Anyway, he is now retired and writing books on Cornish Mining History. I have just had this email from him:

"Hi Barry, long time no see. Good to chat again and keep in touch. I've actually been pretty busy recently, continuing my research into the history and practice of Cornish 'mineral dressing'. In fact, I got a bit sidetracked from the 'big book' when I came across a fascinating treatise from 1858 in the Cornish Studies Centre in Redruth (in their 'rare' books' section) on the mechanical treatment of Cornish tin ores, in French, by a (future) very eminent mining engineer named Leon Moissenet, though at the time he was only 26 or 27, and had barely completed his studentship at the 'Ecole des mines' in Paris.It really is a wonderful study, impeccably compiled from first-hand observation (must have taken him months!), and chock full of the most interesting contemporary detail, from the point of view of what was then current theory and methodology, along with both constructional and operational details for all kinds of apparatus in use at that time - working capacities, feed rates, operating costs and so on. Plus, he included a host of excellent diagrams that he drew himself.Anyway, I couldn't resist it (nerdy to the end) and with the very kind permission of the Library have now completed a full translation, and cleaned up all the diagrams on the computer for inclusion in the text. I'm giving a special copy to the Library, but thought there might well be some possible interest further afield among the Mineral processing fraternity - both current and historically minded - if I can manage to persuade somebody to publish it.What do you think? Maybe you could test out reaction on your MEI blog? If you could, that would really be a great help."

If anyone would like to contact Tony, please do so via tee.cee15@hotmail.com

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Join us in Istanbul

The Old City of Istanbul is the setting for MEI's 3rd Processing of Industrial Minerals Conference in February.

The President Hotel lies in the heart of the old city, a short walking distance from the major attractions of the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia, Topkapi Palace and the Bosphorus.

There is now a final call for abstracts. If you would like to present a paper on any aspect of the processing of industrial minerals and coal, please submit a short abstract to me no later than the end of this month.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Conference Memories- NATO ASI 1984






















The first conference that I attended was also the longest (although some have seemed longer!!). It was a 2-week NATO Advanced Study Institute meeting on Mineral Processing Plant Design, held on top of a mountain at Uludag, near Bursa in Turkey.
Once everyone got to know each other, it turned out to be a memorable fortnight, and sparked my enthusiasm for conferences as great places for meeting new people and building professional relationships. The papers were not particularly memorable, but the people were, and it was here that I met for the first time Gulhan Ozbayoglu and her husband (now sadly deceased) Savci. I also met up again with Dick Burt, who I had previously met briefly in Cornwall 10 years previously. The two of us had been interviewed for the post of senior lecturer in mineral processing at Camborne School of Mines, and I think I had been chosen, rather than Dick, more because of my sporting achievements than my experience.
I also met Gordon Agar, then with Inco Canada. Gordon was, and is, a truly remarkable character, who doesn't suffer fools too easily. Four years after the ASI I founded Minerals Engineering journal and Gordon was one of the first people that I recruited to the Editorial Board. He is still one of my most valued reviewers, although I sometimes have to edit his reviews a little to protect the sensitivities of some authors!
I learned a lot about conferences while at Uludag. Quality papers are obviously important, but so is the choice of venue and social activities. Conference should be intellectually stimulating, but they should also be enjoyable and bring people together. My abiding memory is of a colossal hangover after a night in Istanbul with Gordon Agar and Dick Burt!
The photos are (in order):
1. At the Dardanelles with the Ozbayoglu family;
2. By the Bosporus, left to right Raj Rajamani, Bedri Ipekoglu, me, Cornelius Ek, Dick Burt, Gordon Agar, Mrs. Ipekoglu and Jaques du Cuyper;
3. At Uludag with Irfan Bayraktar and Martin & Sheila Parker;
4. Some of the NATO group at Uludag