Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Peter Amelunxen- first MEI Award winner

Peter Amelunxen and Dave Meadows receive the
Taggart Award from MPD Chairman Courtney Young
It was good to meet Peter Amelunxen for the first time, last week in Seattle. It was also particularly pleasing to see him and ex-Camborne student David Meadows, picking up the Arthur F. Taggart Award for their outstanding contributions to the science of mineral processing. What gave me the greatest pleasure, however, was being able to tell Peter that he was the inaugural recipient of the annual MEI Young Person's Award, for his achievements in mineral processing in 2011. Full details are on MEI Online.

Peter has been invited to an MEI Conference to receive his award. Congratulations from all at MEI.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

CSM Connections

Two of the oldest and most well known mining schools in the world are the Colorado School of Mines in USA, and the Camborne School of Mines in UK, both normally known as CSM.

The photo below was taken at the recent SME Annual Meeting in Seattle.


On the left is Prof. Corby Anderson of Colorado, and on the extreme right Prof. Erik Spiller, also of Colorado. I am 2nd right, lecturer at Camborne from 1974-1996.

Next to Prof. Anderson is his son Caelen, and to his left Joseph Grogan. Both Caelen and Joseph are currently undertaking PhD research in mineral processing at Colorado, but what I think makes them unique is that when they are awarded their PhDs they will have degrees from both Colorado and Camborne, Caelen receiving an MSc in mineral processing in 2011, and Joseph in 2010.

Will whoever is first awarded his PhD also be the first person to have ever received degrees from both CSMs?

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Back to Cornwall!!

After a long journey from Seattle, I arrived back in Falmouth on Thursday evening.

It was good last night to have a couple of real beers in the local Chain Locker pub, with ex-CSM mineral processors Nick Wilshaw, Phil Moore and Malcolm Hooper.

Friday, 24 February 2012

SME Annual Meeting, Seattle

This year the SME Annual Meeting was held for the first time in Seattle, Washington (posting of 19th February) from February 20th-22nd.

The SME meeting is one of the great networking events. Together with its huge exhibition, it also has a multitude of technical sessions on all aspects of the minerals industry, in a bewildering array of parallel sessions, as well as various receptions, symposia, awards ceremonies, workshops etc. So this is by no means a comprehensive report on the 3-day event, more my own personal diary, which I hope will be supplemented by comments from attendees, on this posting and also in the discussion in MEI's Minerals Engineers group.

Sunday 19th February
Almost 500 companies are exhibiting their services and equipment at the exhibition, and the Grand Opening Reception took place this evening, allowing delegates to share a few drinks with the exhibitors, and take in the scale of the show, which this year occupies a considerably greater area than in previous years. The first impression is therefore of much more space between rows of booths, allowing more relaxed browsing.


Monday 20th February
The delegate list shows that around 3300 people have preregistered for the event, roughly the same as last year in Denver.

The first day of an SME Meeting aways starts at an easy pace. Although there were very well attended morning keynote sessions on Mine to Market, the mineral processing sessions did not start until after lunch and the exhibition opened only at 11am, so it is always useful on arrival to spend some time at the on-site bookshop, to see what is new.

There were two new mineral processing books this year. Separation Technologies for Minerals, Coal and Earth Resources is a collection of papers discussing the latest developments in mineral processing, and is edited by Courtney Young and Gerald Luttrell.


The International Symposium on Water in Mineral Processing commences in the late afternoon, and the Proceedings of this symposium is available as a volume, edited by Jaroslaw Drelich. One of the major challenges confronting the mining and minerals processing industry in the 21st century will be managing in an environment of ever decreasing water resources.
Because most mineral processing requires high water use, there will be even more urgency to develop and employ sustainable technologies that will reduce consumption and the discharge of process-affected water. Water in Mineral Processing provides a comprehensive, state-of-the-art examination of this vital issue. A significant portion of the content is devoted to saline solutions and processing with sea water. Other chapters explore the latest in water treatment and biological methods, the effect of water quality on minerals processing, and water and tailings management.

The number of attendees well past normal retirement age is always noticeable at the SME, a testament no doubt to how lucky we are to be involved in this industry. I caught up with a few fellow senior citizens today, and was pleased to meet for the first time Nick Hazen, President and son of the founder of Hazen Research Inc (1st left) and Prof. Maurice Fuerstenau, of University of Nevada-Reno, one half of the well-known Fuerstenau brothers duo. Far right is 83 year old Fathi Habashi, who I have known for many years, who is Emeritus Professor at Laval University, Canada.

Age shall not weary them......
Gerald Luttrell, Phil Thompson and Corale Brierley
I spent the afternoon in the plenary mineral processing session, which contained presentations by the SME's three major award recipients. The Antoine M. Gaudin Gold Medal was awarded to Phil Thompson (posting of 31 October 2011) of FLSmidth, USA, who discussed bench scale laboratory testing for flotation concentrator development, emphasising the need to keep circuits as simple as possible. Prof. Gerald Luttrell, of Virginia Tech, presented the Robert H. Richards Award lecture on process engineering optimisation, showing how, through examples in coal preparation, attention to small details on a plant, which are often ignored as being insignificant, can lead to enormous cost savings. Finally Dr. Corale Brierley, of Brierley Consulting LLC, USA, and one of my very valued Minerals Engineering reviewers, presented the Milton E. Wadsworth Award lecture on the present and future of bioleaching applications. I found the history fascinating, and had not realised that bioleaching has been around for the past 55 years. Bioleaching has an exciting potential future, with possible major applications in the processing of limonitic laterite ores, and in situ leaching.

Mike Nelson, Robbe Dunne, Dariusz Lelinski and me
At the exhibition I caught up with Dariusz Lelinski, of FLSmidth, who will be presenting a keynote lecture at Flotation '13. Dariusz is just one of the very impressive team of mineral processors that FLSmidth have recruited in recent years. At this meeting alone, two of their members are recipients of prestigious SME Awards.  Dariusz was with Mike Nelson, of the University of Utah, co-author of the AusIMM book History of Flotation. Also joining us at the FLSmidth booth was Rob Dunne of Newmont Mining, a keynote lecturer for November's Precious Metals '12 conference, which is also sponsored by Newmont.

Rob also presented the first keynote in the late afternoon opening session of the Water in Mineral Processing Symposium. He showed how the demand for water is driven primarily by population and concomitant economic growth. Water requirements are predicted to grow considerably in the next decades, while supplies will remain relatively constant or decline due to over-pumping of aquifers, changing weather patterns and increased water pollution and contamination. Mining activities are often located in remote, arid environments, with limited access to high quality water. The impact of mining on water quality and quantity are among the most contentious aspects of mining development. The main problem for the mining industry is to generate confidence in developing a responsible, sustainable and transparent water management strategy that is recognised by all stakeholders. Rob provided an excellent overview of water in the wider global arena and compared this to how the mining industry has dealt with water stewardship over the last couple of decades.

Tuesday 21st February
An intensive day of networking in the exhibition area.


Although a relatively small company, Tons Per Hour, Inc. of California had the largest piece of equipment on display. This fully automatic filter press is one of a range of designs offered by the company, which claims to lead the industry with its quickest delivery time, high quality and cost effective equipment for use on coal, limestone, industrial minerals, mineral concentrates and tailings management.


I last saw Dan Curry at Metplant '11 in Perth. He had just taken on the role of development leader for metals and mineral processing with Perth-based Aurecon, to develop the company's mineral processing business, particularly in the design and development of plants. One of the results of this is that Aurecon and mining services company JKTech have recently announced (MEI Online) that they have entered into a strategic alliance to deliver client solutions that effectively reduce total costs on resources projects. The alliance will be known as JK Aurecon. Dan is pictured with JKTech's Mark Richardson and Sarah Schwarz at the JKTech booth.

Wolfgang Baum (right) with FLSmidth Global Marketing
Director Andrew Cuthbert and Public Relations
Specialist Barb Shelley
FLSmidth is completing the installation of a new ore characterization laboratory in its Salt Lake City Minerals Testing Center, which houses state-of-the-art equipment and offers services to sites around the globe. Dr. Wolfgang Baum is heading this new operation and will be presenting a keynote lecture at Process Mineralogy '12 in Cape Town (post of 4th April 2011). FLSmidth is providing corporate sponsorship for this event, as well as for Comminution '12 and Flotation '13.

Another Process Mineralogy '12 sponsor is FEI, who market both the QEM-SCAN and MLA electron microscopes for automated mineralogy. They will be providing a QEM-SCAN to FLSmidth for their new Salt Lake City facility. Pictured are the 4 FEI representatives, Kimball Skinner, Paul Gottlieb, Jose Ayala and Edward Camarillo.
Knelson is waving their company's flag under a new banner, and the new name FLSmidth Knelson, at the SME. FLSmidth acquired the assets of the privately owned company Knelson, a Canada based corporate partnership on September 19, 2011 (MEI Online). Knelson develops, manufactures, and installs equipment for the recovery of precious metals such as gold, platinum and silver, as well as the enhanced gravity separation of base metals and industrial minerals with over 3000 installations in over 70 countries worldwide. The customer base comprises all the major gold, platinum and silver mining companies. The company was founded by Byron Knelson in 1978. The company today employs around 140 people with son, Brett Knelson, and son-in-law, Doug Corsan, continuing to operate and manage the family-owned company after Byron's retirement in 2000. Sadly Byron died in August of last year (posting of 8th October 2011). Pictured in the FLSmidth Knelson booth are David Rahal, Technical Director Milling and Laurie Ashley, Marketing Director, with a model of the FLSmidth Stirred Mill. This was formerly known as the Deswik Mill and was manufactured and distributed in a joint venture agreement between Knelson and Deswik International Ltd (MEI Online).

I thought I knew a fair amount about gravity concentration and gravity devices, so it was interesting to see the Wave Table demonstrated at the Action Mining Services booth. I was informed that this device can recover minerals at sizes down to 5 microns and can recover values lost by other methods (but at what enrichment ratio?). The table utilises the standing wave principle,the wave itself moving, while the water beneath the wave tends to stand still. The further from the top of the wave the less motion there is in the water. Thus the heavier the particle the deeper it will ride and the less motion it will see. Full details can be found on the company website.

It was good to see Chris Martin, an ex-Camborne School of Mines student of mine, who graduated from CSM in 1984. He is now President of Blue Coast Metallurgy, Canada, and is pictured here with his Vice-President Operations, David Middlewitch (centre), who graduated from CSM in 2004. Founded in 2009, Blue Coast is a group of small companies based in Parksville on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The companies provide metallurgical consulting, testing and product assaying services, and develop flowsheets for new projects, both using their own testing facility and other laboratories around the world.

It was also nice to meet Ginny, a friendly Belgian Shepherd, the first dog to be trained for mine rescue, pictured with Rick McAllister of Alpha Natural Resources.

Canadian company Starkey & Associates Inc. is growing in strength, and is a sponsor of April's Comminution '12. S& A uses patented SAGDesign methodology to measure ore hardness and properly calculate the size of grinding mills that a client requires. This methodology improves the consistency of measured hardness, mill sizing and design power, and the resulting production and expected revenue. As mineral process design engineers, S&A also provides outstanding process engineering services to develop complete customized grinding circuit and concentrator flowsheet designs in a timely manner. John Starkey is pictured centre with his Director of Business Development, Brian Dalzell and metallurgist Paul Scinto.

Dave Wiseman was at the Limn:The Flowsheet Processor booth, demonstrating the latest version of his Limn software. This new version is Excel 2007/2010 compatible and uses a new "task pane" approach to the user interface. Limn:The Flowsheet Processor is sponsoring MEI's Physical Separation '13 conference in Falmouth next year and Dave is looking forward to a smaller, more focussed event after feeling a little lost in the huge SME conference and exhibition.

Finally I had a chat with friends from the two major UK trade journals represented at the conference. Both International Mining and Industrial Minerals are media sponsors for a number of upcoming MEI Conferences. International Mining's April issue will feature the annual Clean Processing report and Editorial contributions are welcome.
Mike O'Driscoll and Ismene Clarke
of Industrial Minerals
International Mining booth
Wednesday 22nd February
I stayed on for a 3rd day mainly to attend the Mineral and Metallurgical Processing Division (MPD) Luncheon.

There were inumerable awards presented during the luncheon, and it was good to see Nag Nagaraj of Cytec Industries Inc, , and co-editor of International Journal of Mineral Processing, receiving an award for outstanding services to SME. The Outstanding Young Engineers Award was received by Jacob Hohn of RSR Technologies Inc.

Dr. Nagaraj (right)
Jacob Hohn (right)

Peter Amelunxen, Courtney Young
and Dave Meadows
Dave Meadows of FLSmidth was a student of mine at Camborne, and graduated in 1985. Together with Peter Amelunxen, of Aminpro, Chile, one of my Minerals Engineering reviewers, they received the Arthur Taggart Award for the paper that best represents a notable contribution to the science of mineral processing (posting of 31 October 2011).






The final act was the handing over of the Chairmanship of the MPD from Courtney Young of Montana Tech to Jayson Ripke of Cardero Iron Company Ltd.

I have had an interesting and rewarding three days in Seattle and look forward to next year's Annual Meeting, in my favourite venue, Denver.

The preprints of papers presented in the technical sessions are available on CD from the SME.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sleepless in Seattle

I arrived in Seattle yesterday evening for the SME Annual Meeting which starts in earnest tomorrow.

After a very brief sleep due to the 8 hour time difference, I was up and about at two o'clock this morning, and after a very early breakfast strolled down to the Washington State Convention Centre, to register at 7am!


The best way to explore a new city is on foot, so this morning I had a five mile circular walk, down to the Pike Place Market, home of the first Starbucks coffee store, then along the not very inspiring Waterfront, a trip up to the 160m high observation deck of the Space Needle, and back to downtown for a coffee in one of the many Starbucks.


I managed to spot a couple of mineral processors on my travels, Dave Wiseman of Limn - the Flowsheet Processor, and Robert Bratton, of Virginia Polytechnic Institute (left in photo). Dave will be in Falmouth next year, as sponsor of Physical Separation '13.

After a late lunch it was back to the Convention Centre for the first reception, the opening of the exhibition.

I will be posting my report on the SME Meeting at the end of the week.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Check your Visa Waiver before leaving for USA!

I had a very fraught time today on my arrival at Heathrow Airport for my flight to Seattle.

I had applied for my electronic Visa Waiver (ESTA) last October, which was approved, but when I tried to check in, I found that it had expired only 2 months after the application!

I then had a frantic hour applying again online, and after doing that being informed that I should allow 72 hours for processing! Luckily when I reported back to check-in, the application had been approved and I was allowed on the flight. I would like to thank BA for their asistance in helping me process this second application- personally I always find their staff helpful and accommodating.

But my advice is- check your ESTA approval very carefully before you travel- I shall from now on.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Major gold and platinum sponsors for Precious Metals '12

One of the world’s largest gold miners, Newmont Mining, has agreed to provide corporate sponsorship for Precious Metals ’12, which will be held in Cape Town in November.

Newmont’s Dr. Rob Dunne will be giving one of the keynote lectures at the conference, reviewing the current status and future of processes used in the gold industries.

The other corporate sponsor is one of South Africa’s major platinum producers, Implats. South African platinum producers are being squeezed between high cost inflation, the strong Rand and metal prices that do not promote new capital investment. Processing of platinum ores is energy intensive, and a looming carbon tax raises the prospect of a further cost impost. PGM concentrators have a constraint imposed on them by the concentrate specifications required by the smelters, which causes a loss in flotation recovery to meet the requirements, and for UG2 ore this is further exacerbated by the need to limit chromite.

The response of the industry to these challenges, and ways to change the current process environment, will be discussed in the second keynote lecture, to be presented by Keith Liddell, the former Managing Director of Aquarius Platinum Limited. Keith developed the Kroondal Platinum Mine as the lowest cost producer in the industry using innovative mining and processing methods. He is currently deputy Chairman of Platmin Ltd, which operates the Pilanesberg Platinum Mine.

Precious Metals ’12 follows MEI’s 3-day Process Mineralogy ’12 conference, and immediately precedes Nickel Processing ’12, all at the same venue, the Vineyard Hotel in Claremont.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Comminution ’12 is only 2 months away

Over 100 registrations have already been received for April’s Comminution ’12 in Cape Town, which looks set to be even bigger than Comminution ’10, held at the same venue in the leafy suburb of Claremont.


During the intensive 4 days, authors from 21 countries will present 78 papers dealing with all aspects of the comminution of minerals.

18 companies have exhibition booths in the conference lunch and coffee-break area, and there will also be plenty of time for networking during the two wine functions, immediately prior to, and after the closing of the conference. These will be held in the Vineyard Hotel’s splendid gardens under Table Mountain.

Cape Town’s Gold Restaurant will be the setting for the conference dinner, which was a highlight of last November’s Flotation ’11 conference.

So if you have any interest in comminution, Cape Town is the place to be in 2 month’s time.

Monday, 13 February 2012

International Mining Games comes to Cornwall

Now in its 34th year, for the first time the International Mining Games will be held outside the US or Australia. The Camborne School of Mines (CSM) will host the competition at the King Edward Mine Museum, near Camborne, Cornwall, UK, from 31st March to 1st April 2012. The event will be free and open to spectators.

The Camborne-Redruth area around King Edward Mine
40 teams from all over the world will compete in physical challenges based on traditional mining techniques, many of which were originally developed in Cornwall in the 1700s and 1800s. Events such as ‘jackleg drilling’, ‘mucking’ and ‘track stand’ test the competitors’ physical strength, speed and endurance, while challenges like surveying depend more on knowledge and quick thinking. All rely on preparation and excellent teamwork. CSM is entering three teams and the students have put together a busy training schedule, around their studies.

CSM student Oakley Turner is leading the organisation of the games. He said: “The skills required for these traditional techniques are now extremely rare, but an understanding of them is still vital to the mining industry. CSM students are among the few people with this expertise, which puts our graduates in very high demand among employers. Hosting the International Mining Games is a wonderful way for us to celebrate our skills and bring a really exciting event to Cornwall. It will be a great opportunity for local people to see these techniques being carried out in the same part of the world as they were originally developed.”

The International Mining Games started in 1978 in honour of the 91 miners who died in the Sunshine Mine disaster, USA in 1972, as well as miners that have since died in the line of duty. Since then, it has grown and evolved and also provides a talent scouting opportunity for mining companies and companies in related sectors, as well as bringing together mining students from all over the world.

Head of Camborne School of Mines Professor Frances Wall said: “We are very proud that our students are bringing this prestigious competition to Cornwall. Representatives from some of the world’s biggest mining companies will be attending, so this will be an excellent opportunity for our students to network and potentially secure future employment.

KEM Museum
King Edward Mine, known to generations of students as KEM, was for over a century CSM's field station for practical mining and surveying. Now open as a museum, the mine is owned by Cornwall Council and is managed by a team of volunteers who started restoration work on the site 25 years ago. Mining Engineer Tony Brooks, former CSM student and director of King Edward Mine Museum, said: "We are delighted to be able to help host the Mining Games at KEM. There could be nowhere more appropriate for this event. This will be good for CSM, Camborne and Cornwall".

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The status of spirals in modern mineral processing plants

Some time ago (June 2009 and June 2010) I discussed the demise of the Reichert Cone, which was very popular as a gravity roughing device in the 1970s, but was made obsolete in the early 1980s by the introduction of high capacity, wash-waterless spirals.

In MEI's LinkedIn group Minerals Engineers, the question has been asked whether spirals are still being used in new mineral processing operations. Judging by the replies, they sure are, in applications including the beneficiation of heavy mineral sands, chromite, tantalite, iron ores and fine coal.

The spiral concentrator is one of the most effective, low-cost devices for the gravity beneficiation of ores, but I would like to know if anyone can advise us on recent developments in spiral concentration technology, and whether their use is limited to roughing operations, with cleaning undertaken in enhanced gravity devices?

Monday, 6 February 2012

Important changes to Minerals Engineering and ScienceDirect

Ever since its inception in 1988, the volume number of Minerals Engineering has been synonymous with the year. Last year’s volume, number 24, represented the 24th year of the journal.

Each volume has, for many years, contained 15 issues, but this year will herald significant changes, which need some explanation.

There has been a major shift in recent years to electronic formatting of journals, and ScienceDirect usage continues to grow, with over 400,000 downloads of Minerals Engineering papers in 2011, compared with 372,500 in 2010.

Electronic publishing has allowed very rapid publication of papers. Once I, as editor, finally accept a paper for publication, it is almost immediately published in ScienceDirect, and is currently available for download in the section Articles in Press. This is effectively a holding area where accepted papers are stored until allocated an issue number and pagination. Each paper is assigned a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), a unique alphanumeric character string, which never changes. It can be used for citing a document in press, because it has not yet received its full bibliographic information. When the paper is eventually published in hard copy, it can then also be cited by its Volume Number, Issue Number and page numbers. Unfortunately many authors (and at least one editor!) find this a confusing system, hence the move this year to what is known as Article Based Publishing (ABP) workflow.

Commencing this year, issue numbers will disappear, and there will be 15 Volumes allocated for each year. Each Volume will start its life as an empty shell, and as soon as a paper has been accepted it will be assigned a specific Volume, and the page numbers will be immediately known, as each Volume will commence at page 1. The article can therefore be immediately cited as Minerals Engineering Volume XX (2012) pps.YY-ZZ, which will be exactly the same citation as when the article appears in print a few months later.

The benefit of more flexibility in opening more than one Volume at the same time will greatly benefit Minerals Engineering which publishes a relatively high number of special issues, which will be allocated their own Volume numbers. This year, using the new ABP system, special issues on Sustainability (Volume 29), Computational Modelling (Volume 31), Physical Separation (Volume 32) and Froth Flotation (Volumes 36-38) are scheduled.

Please contact me if you need any further clarification on these changes.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Results of the MEI competition

We had 59 entries to our mini-competition, inviting you all to guess which of the postings on the blog has had the most views.

Unfortunately no one has won the free conference registration, in fact no one even named any of the first five highest views. Which were:

1. Very surprisingly, with 1134 page views was the posting of 9th March 2011, SME Mining Engineering Handbook, 3rd edition.

2. Did column flotation cells ever realise their potential? (14 May 2010)

3. Metplant '11 conference diary (12 August 2011).

4. ScienceDirect- not just for journals (4 October 2010).

5. MEI Award 2011 (16 November 2011).

Thanks to all of you who entered for your interest.