Venice in August sounded attractive but it aroused my suspicions. Would we organise an MEI Conference in Venice at the height of the tourist season when hotel accommodation is hard to find, and what is available is extremely expensive? Very strange! Even stranger when a few hours later I received another email, inviting me to submit an abstract and attend the XXXIVth International Conference on Mining Engineering and Metallurgical Technology in Prague in July!!
The conference(s) apparently aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Mining Engineering and Metallurgical Technology, and discuss the practical challenges encountered and the solutions adopted. Apparently this is “the premier forum for the presentation of new advances and research results in the fields of Mining, Mineral Processing and Metallurgical Engineering”. Really? So why, especially if it is the XXXIVth in the series, have I never heard of it? My next step was to look at the conference website.
Papers from the conference will apparently be published in a special issue of World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology (WASET) “a scholarly open access, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, monthly and fully refereed journal focusing on theories, methods and applications in Science, Engineering and Technology. WASET offers a single, highly recognized platform where peer-reviewed high quality scientific papers can be hosted and accessed by millions of researchers, enabling authors to keep abreast of the latest developments in their field”. I looked at the list of Editorial Board members, but recognised no one, nor many of the institutions. The only UK editorial board member listed was Kenneth Revett of University of Westminster Harrow School of Computer Science. I found their website via Google, but Mr. Revett does not appear on the list of staff.
It’s interesting that the Mining and Metallurgical event(s) is just one (or two) of around 3000 conferences that WASET are organising this year!
What is all this about? Are these legitimate conferences, or just scams to solicit registration fees? Amanda and I did a very quick Google search of WASET, and there were some interesting findings. First of all the WASET open access journal is listed on Beall’s list of potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers.
Antonio Garcia-Macias found, on checking the website for the next International Conference on Artificial Neural Networks (which is run by the European Neural Networks Society every year), a WASET conference with an identical name scheduled for Amsterdam. It claims to be 34th ICANN, but so far only 22 conferences in the legitimate series have been run, and in 2013 this will be in Sophia in September, not in May in Amsterdam. Antonio concludes that the name has been hijacked and doubts that the conference in Amsterdam will ever take place.
A University of San Diego professor intended to attend a WASET conference in Singapore in 2010, as he was to be in Asia at that time. As a prerequisite to registration he had to pay 450 Euros into to an account in Dubai. After that all attempts to register failed, as did attempts to contact the organisers and he never recovered his registration fee.
So I thought I would test the water and submit a paper which should not pass even the briefest of technical appraisals, let alone a rigorous peer-review. What better than the essence of last year’s April Fool’s Day blog? Not wanting to spend a lot of time on the “technical content”, I submitted this brief "technical note":
Homeopathic methods provide the key to collectorless flotation
B.A. Wills (MEI, Falmouth, UK) and R. Head (Bodmin Institute, Cornwall, UK)
The collectorless flotation of minerals has been one of the Holy Grails of flotation scientists. Although it has been achieved with a few highly hydrophobic materials such as diamond and anthracite, it has had little success with the vast majority of minerals, which have to be persuaded to float by the use of expensive and often toxic reagents. Research in UK has shown that the science of homeopathy may provide the answer.
Collectorless flotation of certain sulfides was shown to occur by Trahar and Heyes of CSIRO in 1977. Other authors later researched this subject. Arbiter and Vargas applied collectorless flotation to the recovery of copper from Arizona ores in the late 1980s. They showed it could work on the commercial scale but was not as efficient as flotation with xanthate collectors. Their work is summarised by Arbiter and Gebhardt, These authors concluded that "the need to consider ore geology and to control water quality and redox environments during grinding, conditioning and flotation make commercial-scale collectorless flotation impractical without advances in system controls".
Synopsis of preliminary work
Homeopathy is a controversial alternative medicine, which uses extremely diluted solutions and is claimed to work due to water having a memory, which allows homeopathic solutions to be used without any of the original substance being present (Chaplin, 2007).
We treated a 10% by volume solution of xanthate using a process called succussion, which involves serial dilution of the solution together with shaking and forceful striking on an elastic body; the exact process cannot be disclosed due to an impending patent application.
Each dilution is followed by succussion, until none of the original xanthate in the solution can be detected. However, repeated succussion produces potentization, and the now essentially distilled water memorises the initial xanthate content. We then found that the use of this water in sulphide mineral flotation was as effective as using the original, untreated xanthate solution.
Repeated trials have yet to be carried out, but this potential breakthrough could herald a new dawn in flotation technology, with negligible reagent usage and the concomitant reduction in treatment of environmentally hazardous tailings. Full details and results will be presented at the conference.
Arbiter, N. and Gebhardt, J.E., Requirements for Industrial Collectorless Flotation of Sulfide Minerals, Proc. 3rd Int. Symp. Electrochemistry in Mineral and Metal Processing III, R.Woods and P.E. Richardson, Eds, The Electrochem. Soc., 1992.
Chaplin, M.F., The memory of water: an overview, Homeopathy, 96(3), 2007.
Within an hour I received an email informing me that my peer- reviewed draft paper had been accepted for presentation, as well as inclusion in the conference proceedings at the conference and for publication in the special journal issues.
I would be grateful if you could pass this post to your colleagues, and I would certainly like to hear from anyone who has had experience of WASET, in particular anyone who has actually attended one of these conferences. I would particularly like to have feedback from the organisers!