Thursday, 19 April 2018

Comminution '18: the final day

A much less intense day today, with 14 papers in the technical sessions, followed by a summary of the conference by Prof. Aubrey Mainza, of University of Cape Town, and MEI's Amanda inviting delegates back to Cape Town in two years' time for Comminution '20 (YouTube).
Australia’s Russell Mineral Equipment has made a massive contribution to this conference, sponsoring, having three exhibit booths and 15 representatives. We are pleased that they have already confirmed their support for Comminution ’20, which will be held at the Vineyard again from April 27th to 30th 2020.
Junfu King and Alex Wang of King's Ceramics & Chemicals
Felicity and Nick Wilshaw of Grinding Solutions with John Starkey of Starkey & Associates
Glencore Technology, Australia, have been very impressed with this conference, and have committed to sponsorship not only of Comminution '20, but also Flotation '19 and Hi-Tech Metals '18.
Greg Anderson and Hans de Waal of Glencore Technology
Another early sponsor is Derrick Corporation, USA. They have a booth at Comminution '18 and Nic Barkhuysen, of Derrick Solutions, South Africa (left) and Steve Valine of Derrick Corp., USA (3rd left) are pictured below with Adrian Hinde and Martyn Hay of South Africa.

During the first coffee break Jon was talking to Simon Bailey, now with conference sponsor Keramos. Two years ago Simon was with Grinding Solutions Ltd. Although Keramos is an Australian company, Simon works from home in the UK, in MEI's home town Falmouth.
I caught up with Wilber Churata, MEI's first ever delegate from Bolivia. He is presenting a poster on optimal ball level control in SAG mills using microphones. Wilber is Plant Superintendent at the San Cristobal Mine in Bolivia, where mill control is by sound. The San Cristobal mine is an open-pit silver, lead and zinc mine operated by Sumitomo Corporation, and produces approximately 1,300 tonnes of zinc-silver concentrate and 300 tonnes of lead-silver concentrate per day, by processing 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes of ore. It is one of Bolivia's largest mining facilities and, according to Sumitomo, the world’s sixth-largest producer of zinc and third-largest producer of silver. The mine has been in various stages of development since the early 1980s but only recently came into full operation.
MEI Young Person’s Award winner Grant Ballantyne has played the principal role in the development of the internationally-supported comminution energy curve tool which is hosted on the Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution (CEEC) website, and is widely used by industry for energy benchmarking and the optimisation of comminution circuits. He brought his award in today for a photo-call with Directors, Associates and sponsors of CEEC.
Our next Cape Town conference is Process Mineralogy '18 in November, and our consultant for the event, Dr. Megan Becker, of University of Cape Town, called in to update us over lunch today.
Megan with Chris Greet of Magotteaux
It's been a great conference, with 65 oral and 15 poster presentations, and after the final summaries we were back in the hotel gardens for a final farewell wine function.





My final technical report on the 4 days of Comminution '18 is scheduled for April 30th, and we look forward to your comments on this.

Twitter @barrywills

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Comminution '18: Day 3

The most intensive day of the conference today, starting with a keynote lecture from Aubrey Mainza at 8am, and finishing, after 20 presentations, at 5.20pm.
The long coffee and lunch breaks gave us time to chat in the exhibition area, and meet some interesting people.
Chris Rule is well known throughout the industry, and was with Anglo American Platinum for many years. He left in late 2015 and is now an independent consultant, involved with many companies and projects. This week he is representing one of his clients, Cenotec, a South Korean company. Cenotec was founded in 1999, and manufactures grinding media beads (Cenobeads™) with a range of specific gravities. The company currently supplies mining companies in Africa, Australia, South and North America. He is seen below with Giusy Baio of Industri Bitossi, Italy.
JSC Altynalmas is one of the most famous gold producers in the Republic of Kazakhstan, and has been represented at a couple of MEI's Process Mineralogy conferences. So it was good to welcome Joel Geronimo, the first of the company's representatives at a Comminution Conference. Joel is from the Philippines, and below he is talking to Tapash Bhattacharjee of Polycorp, South Africa, a manufacturer of rubber liners, which have been in existence for more than forty years and are now often preferred over traditional steel, largely because they weigh less and are easier to maintain. The results of the successful installation of Polycorp’s PolyBlok™ liner technology at Hudbay - Constancia’s  ball mills in its operations in Peru and the resulting benefits in reduced power draw, increased mill throughput and ease of handling was the subject of one of the poster presentations.
There are 7 presentations from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, this week, two of which are posters, and in the poster area I caught up with all seven representatives of the university.
Meanwhile Jon was talking to Tony Anyimadu, Principal Global Metallurgist with AngloGoldAshanti, South Africa, and Sampson Arthur and Bob Ntsiakoh, Unit Manager and Plant Supervisor respectively at Abosso Goldfields, Ghana.
Jon, Tony, Sampson and Bob
Amanda was in the Outotec booth talking to Jimmy Loucas and Angie Voges. Amanda and Angie are looking forward to meeting up in Zambia in July for the SAIMM Cu-Co conference, at which Outotec is a premium sponsor, and MEI a media sponsor.
We were back in the exhibition area at the end of the sessions, for the second of our Vineyard sundowners, fortuitously indoors, as the welcome rains arrived today!
Twitter @barrywills

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Comminution '18 Conference Dinner



It was a beautiful evening tonight for the conference dinner at the Lagoon Beach Hotel at Milnerton, on the shore of Table Bay. With its backdrop of Table Mountain and Robben Island, we enjoyed a spectacular sundowner before sitting down for dinner in the restaurant, with entertainment provide by the excellent amaAmbush Marinbas.




Monday, 16 April 2018

Comminution '18: Day 1

Another beautiful sunny day in Cape Town today for the opening of Comminution '18, where I welcomed our 200 delegates from 24 countries.
Following my opening remarks, it was a great pleasure to present the 2017 MEI Young Person's Award to Dr. Grant Ballantyne, of Australia's JKMRC.
Grant with three of his award supporters, Marcelo Tavares, Dee Bradshaw and Aidan Giblett
A very welcome visitor this morning was Prof. Dee Bradshaw, although she had some very sad news. She was joined later by another old friend from UCT, Prof. J-P Franzidis, now retired and also an Emeritus Professor. It was great to see them together again, as they were our original consultants for the flotation series of conferences.
There was a buzz of activity in the exhibition area during the coffee break, and the atmosphere is captured in this YouTube video.
Vongani Nkuna, seen talking to Metso's Charles Ntsele and Kiangi Kiangi, is our first ever delegate from Ivanhoe Mines (formerly Ivanplats Ltd). Based in Johannesburg, Vongani is involved with Ivanhoe's Platreef Project, which is on the path to becoming Africa’s lowest-cost producer of platinum-group metals, and is also expected to become a significant producer of nickel and copper for the electrical vehicle revolution.
Charles, Vongani and Kiangi
Xhanti Mfazwe and Nombuso Mbatha, of Anglo American Platinum, are also attending an MEI Conference for the first time. Xhanti is Plant Production Manager, and Nombuso is a metallurgist, at the Mototolo platinum concentrator in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Xhanti and Nombuso
After a long day it was good to relax and enjoy a few drinks on a very balmy evening  in the Vineyard gardens for the first of our late afternoon sundowners.

A Camborne School of Mines reunion: Gaynor Yorath (1985), Mark de Geus (2012), Simon Bailey (2008),
Felicity Wilshaw (1978-79), Nick Wilshaw (1980), Adam McElroy (2010), Barry Wills (1974-96)
Twitter @barrywills

Dee Bradshaw calls in at Comminution '18 with some sad news

A very welcome visitor to Comminution '18 this morning was our old friend from the University of Cape Town (UCT), Prof. Dee Bradshaw.
Dee was at Flotation '17 last November, when we were pleased to hear that she was recovering from her breast cancer surgery and treatment. We joked about our similar hair-styles, and the fact that hers would grow back, but mine wouldn't.
With Dee at Flotation '17
The sad news is that, although Dee's hair has grown, so have her tumours, and she is quite open about the fact that she is now terminally ill, and would like all her friends and colleagues in the minerals industry to be aware of this.
Dee is now medically boarded and is retired from UCT as an Emeritus Professor. She remains her usual cheerful self, and as always was chatting this morning to young people at the conference in her inimitable inspirational manner.
Dee with the MEI team
Dee brought with her the book 'Green Mining: beyond the myth' which depicts the provision of minerals and metals in a way that is not only techno-economically viable but also environmentally responsible. She feels passionate about its message and perspectives, which she regards as the culmination of her career, and mirrors the evolution of her own career progression from when we first met in Cornwall in 1992. She was at that time a mature post-graduate student at UCT, and had been offered the chance of attending Reagents '92 in Falmouth by her supervisor Prof. Cyril O'Connor, who has been a huge influence on her life.

That visit to the UK had a big impact on the way Dee thought about travel and conferences, and has led to her initiating and inviting contributions to a travel scholarship called 'Dee Bradshaw and Friends', which will be open to post-graduate students in the minerals sector (more on this later).

It was great to see Dee today and to wish her and her husband Mike our thoughts during these difficult times.

2017 MEI Young Person's Award to Grant Ballantyne

This morning I had the pleasure of presenting the 2017 MEI Young Person’s Award to an exceptional young mineral processor, Dr. Grant Ballantyne, an early career researcher with six years’ experience on the staff of the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) at the University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.

Grant was nominated for the award by Prof. Tim Napier-Munn, Emeritus Professor of UQ, with very strong support from Prof. Dee Bradshaw (Emeritus Professor of University of Cape Town), Prof. Bern Klein (University of British Columbia, Canada), Prof. Luis Marcelo Tavares (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Joe Pease (Chair, CEEC International, Australia), Dr Nick Clarke (Manager Metallurgy, International Region, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Australia), Dr Peter Radziszewski (VP Research, Metso Grinding Media Solutions, Canada), Evert Lessing (Director, Engineering & Product Development, Weir Minerals Australia)  and Aidan Giblett (Senior Technical Advisor Mineral Processing, Newmont Mining Corporation, Australia).
Grant obtained a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering) with First Class Honours from UQ in 2007. His PhD in the field of Mineral Engineering (dielectrophoresis for mineral separation) was conferred by the University of Queensland in 2012. He obtained two competitive scholarships during his undergraduate degree and one as a postgraduate student. He was also awarded two presentation prizes during his PhD, as well as the prestigious Zinifex (now Oz Minerals) and Ian Morley prizes, acknowledging the outstanding quality of his thesis and his contribution to the JKMRC and its student life. He has authored 27 international conference papers (15 refereed), 8 refereed journal articles (6 of which were first author and in top publications), 1 book chapter, 4 industry publications, and 24 confidential technical reports to industry. His published papers have been cited well over 200 times.
Grant is passionate about equipping the next generation of mineral engineers with the intellectual tools they will need to confront the challenges of the future. He has produced innovative and engaging teaching strategies that have resulted in high quality learning outcomes for both undergraduates and industry professionals. He developed 2 week and 4 day professional development courses for Sandvik staff and has presented them on five occasions. He leads the comminution component of the Metallurgical Engineering undergraduate program at UQ for which he has always received excellent student ratings. He has also been part of three industry Metskill training courses (run by JKTech) and two postgraduate courses at the Sustainable Minerals Institute of UQ. During his short career, Grant has supervised ten vacation student projects, three undergraduate theses and is currently supervising two PhD students, with one MPhil student having graduated in 2017.  He has been recognised for his lecturing twice by the UQ Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and IT as ‘Most Effective Teacher’, nominated by the elite cohort of students who receive the Dean’s Commendation. Grant’s teaching philosophy is to avoid teaching knowledge for its own sake, and instead focus on imparting a physical understanding of the fundamental sub-processes that can be logically applied to a variety of situations.
Energy efficient comminution has become Grant’s major research theme, focussed on industry applications supported by fundamental theoretical understanding. He has been part of research teams devising process improvements at several mining operations, most notably Saucito (lead/zinc/silver, Mexico), Tropicana (gold, Australia), Sunrise Dam (gold, Australia), Cadia (copper/gold, Australia), Mogalakwena (platinum, South Africa), Sino Iron (magnetite, Australia), Mineral San Cristobal (lead/zinc/silver, Bolivia), Tanami (gold, Australia), Northparkes (copper/gold, Australia) and Telfer (copper/gold, Australia). In 2014 he led two research and training groups (eight researchers including postgraduate students) to conduct comminution circuit assessment at Sunrise Dam Gold Mine and Citic Pacific’s Iron Project, both in Western Australia. The work at Sunrise Dam “identified improvements of direct economic benefit as well as being the basis for 2 publications presented at International conferences, one of which was runner up for the CEEC medal. Continued co-operation with AngloGold Ashanti led to further publications on energy efficiency with particular reference to High Pressure Grinding Rolls.” – says his supporter, Nick Clarke.
Grant recently published two significant advances in top-tier journals. In one paper (IJMP Vol. 168, 2017) he made a seminal contribution to the well-known JKMRC breakage models by combining two models into one through an elegant insight. The resulting model provides a more accurate output over the full size and energy range than existing models, whilst using fewer parameters. The second paper (Minerals Engineering Vol. 116, 2018) demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the Bond grindability test to measure the ball milling requirements of HPGR products, and outlined a novel approach that he is currently developing to overcome this shortfall.
Grant collaborates with several international research groups. He is an active member of the Global Comminution Collaborative (GCC) which includes members from Brazil, South Africa, Germany, Turkey, Sweden and Australia. His involvement with the GCC has included developing research plans at workshops in South Africa and Germany, collaborating in research, and twice participating in site reviews in South Africa and Australia. Grant has also spent periods as a visiting scholar, using facilities and connecting with the research groups at Erlangen University (Germany), CSIRO (Melbourne, Australia) and the University of Cape Town (South Africa). “I have sought Grant out in many instances to solicit his opinions on comminution circuit performance analysis and will continue to do so as we seek to adopt the methods Grant has developed for the mining industry, both in Australia and abroad.” says supporter Aidan Giblett.
In his short research career Grant already has an enviable record of obtaining substantial research income as a chief investigator, in a very competitive environment. He has won research grants totalling over A$3m from Australian government sources (CRC ORE, Mets Ignited), collaborative industry sources (AMIRA P9, CEEC) and through direct engagement with individual companies in Australia and overseas (eg Sandvik, AngloGold Ashanti, Newcrest, Weir). In 2016 he was awarded a highly commended (runner up) award for Discovery and Innovation at the UQ Sustainable Minerals Institute. In 2017 he won the award for ‘best conference paper’ at the AusIMM’s Metplant Conference in Perth. He is also the primary supervisor of the PhD student who won the ‘best conference presentation’ at the same conference.
Grant has played the principal role in the development of the internationally-supported comminution energy curve tool which is hosted on the CEEC International website, and is widely used by industry for energy benchmarking and the optimisation of comminution circuits. This novel tool incorporates data from nearly 60% of world copper operations, over 30% of world gold operations, and significant proportions of other commodities. CEEC has recently won additional funding of A$300,000 from the Australian Federal and Queensland State governments for further development of this tool, largely on the basis of Grant’s work and research proposal. There is no doubt that his ability to get on with people, and his integrity as a researcher, is what has persuaded a large number of the world’s mineral producers to supply the confidential production data that underpins the tool and its efficacy.
Grant has also been an active promotor of CEEC’s vision for energy-efficient comminution, running successful industry workshops in Santiago, Vancouver, Toronto, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Melbourne and Perth, and taking a leadership role in facilitating the application of the energy curves by industry. His work is highly rated by the great and the good in the field. In his keynote address at the 2014 XXVII IMPC in Chile, Prof. Robin Batterham (formerly Rio Tinto Chief Technologist and Chief Scientist of Australia) displayed Grant’s energy curves and expressed the view that they will soon be a well-recognised measure of performance. A paper on the topic by Ballantyne and Powell published in Minerals Engineering (Volume 65, 2014) has been cited 32 times and an Australian Research Council reviewer commented that it is “set to become a definitive publication in the field”.
In 2017 Grant was invited to take on the role of one of the new Assistant Editors for Minerals Engineering. He has refereed 14 papers for learned journals, including 10 for Minerals Engineering. As part of the 2016 IMPC in Quebec, Grant was invited to be part of both the IMPC Emerging Leaders Working Group, and the Education Commission sub-committee responsible for collecting and reporting data on international mineral processing students. He organised the refereeing of 27 papers for the Congress, of which he refereed 14 himself. He co-organised the comminution stream at the Congress, and also chaired a session at Comminution ’16 in Cape Town.
Grant has been an active member of the AusIMM for 10 years (Student, now Member), and recently performed a webinar for the AusIMM Metallurgical Society which was well attended by AusIMM members. He has written two articles for the AusIMM Bulletin, including one on the venerable ‘Friday Morning Seminars’ at the JKMRC, which have been going for over 50 years and which he now organises and introduces. Recently he chaired one of two half-hour panel sessions with 6 well-known industry practitioners at the AusIMM’s Metplant conference in Perth. In 2017 he filmed a children’s science show on national TV called Brain Buzz explaining details of Mining and Mineral Processing and showcasing UQ’s innovations.
Grant’s nomination is supported at least in part because of the energy, passion, commitment and integrity which he brings to his practice as a mineral engineer. He believes absolutely in sustainable mineral operations, and much of his research is directed to that outcome. He is also committed to passing on his knowledge to others in various forms. Although Grant’s university appointment is a full time research position, he essentially does his undergraduate teaching in his own time. He also practices his principles in his personal life. He has for 10 years led local youth groups in his area, and for 4 years he took annual leave to be part of the Red Frogs organisation which provides support and advice to school leavers. He is also an active member of the UQ Hockey Club.
In conclusion, Dr Grant Ballantyne is an accomplished, enthusiastic member of the mineral engineering community, with exceptional research achievements and an international reach. In his short career Grant has made a significant mark on his profession, produced research results of acknowledged benefit to the industry, and built an international network of collaborators. His teaching at all levels from undergraduate to professional has been recognised for its commitment and positive outcomes.
The future of our industry will be more challenging than the past. Ores are becoming more difficult to treat, essential consumables such as power and water are becoming more expensive and controversial, and the social licence to operate is an increasing constraint on mining company operations. Future innovations will require a multi-disciplinary approach, a high degree of lateral thinking, a real commitment to sustainability, and a demonstrated capacity to cooperate empathetically with others. Undoubtedly Grant has these attributes to the degree needed to play a significant role in our industry’s future, as researcher, teacher, practitioner, and international collaborator. He is a very worthy recipient of the MEI Young Person’s Award.