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MEI Online: General Minerals Engineering: Conference Reports: Recovery of Base Metals in Southern Africa


Recovery of Base Metals in Southern Africa
Sun City, South Africa, 16 18 July 2002

One hundred and four delegates from nine different countries attended the “Recovery of Base Metals” conference held over three days at Sun City. Twenty four presentations were made.

The keynote address was given by Hans von Michaelis, Randol International Ltd, USA. Hans presented the Randol Macro-economic Forecast Model, which predicted two years ago that the NASDAQ would crash and correctly predicted the current up turn in the gold price. The model now predicts the ultimate decline in the S&P 500 P/E to quarter of its present levels, with Dow Jones Average dropping to 2 500 and possibly lower if earnings decrease. If history repeats itself, the gold price will rise as markets fall, until the DJIA/gold ratio is between 1 and 2. Accordingly the gold price could reasonably be expected to increase dramatically with spikes between $1 000 and $2 500/ounce. This scenario provides great opportunities for the gold mining industry, but the global market for base metals will contract. Thus the ingenuity of the base metal operators will be needed as never before and technology as discussed at a conference such as this one will be increasingly important.

The papers at the conference covered three main themes, “Mine to mill”, Heap Leaching and Hydometallurgy. Catherine McInnes from MinnovEX Technologies presented two interesting commercial systems. (CEET and FLEET). Paul Fouche from Rosh Pinah Zinc in Namibia discussed a Mineral Resource Management programmme that the company uses to optimize the economic value of their mineral resource over the total value chain from orebody to final concentrate. Neville Searle from Hatch Consulting spoke on Strategic issues faced by mining companies.

A team from Knights Piesold International led by Donald East, Chairman and CEO presented a good series of papers on the construction, operation and closure of heap leach facilities, with case studies from Indonesia and South America. Hans von Michaelis spoke on innovative heap leaching technology and applications.

Under the Hydometallurgy theme, presentations covered the development and implementation of a novel pressure leach process for the recovery of cobalt and copper at Chambishi, Zambia, extraction and recovery of cobalt and copper from various hydrometallurgical feed systems using molecular recognition technology (MRT) and the implementation of belt filtration to improve soluble zinc recovery at the Zinc Corporation of South Africa. PJ Garbutt, from Corrosion Services International, presented two most useful review papers covering developments in nickel electrowinning cellhouse design and operating data for electrolytic copper electrowinning. Ms Sibiya-Magagula from the Technicon Witwatersrand presented data on iron removal in the hydrometallurgy of zinc and copper. Marthie Kotze from Mintek gave results of investigations into the metallurgical and economic feasibility of resin-in-pulp technology for the recovery of copper, nickel and cobalt. Two papers from the DRC were printed in the conference proceedings and not given, because of travel problems by the authors. These were the purification of cadmium solution by solvent extraction and oxidizing precipitation of manganese using a mixture of air and sodium metabisulphate solution.

Under a general theme, two papers covered aspects of pyrometallurgy. One, by Afrox and BOC Gases that gave an update on the work reported at the SAIMM “Metallurgy Africa” conference held in November 1999. This covered the testing of supersonic tuyeres, with oxygen enrichment at Anglo Platinum’s Waterval Smelter. The other compared wet and dry granulation and the downstream processes required for Hydometallurgy by David Norval of Bateman Engineered Technologies. It also discussed atomization as an alternative process route. Two papers covered new technology. The V-SEP, membrane filtration equipment sold by VibraSep (Pty) Ltd, which uses high frequency vibration of the membranes to prevent blinding and makes the technique applicable to a greater range of applications. Craig Gilbert of Bateman Engineered Technologies presented vortex ring mixing technology, which uses less power than conventional technology. The new automated Laboratory at Skorpion Zinc was described by Brian Hohenstein of Innovative Met Products. Jeremy Tucker of Minnovex Technologies Inc presented on requirements to successfully integrate an Expert System into an operation.

The social side of the programme was not forgotten, to encourage interaction between delegates. The following were greatly enjoyed; golf, a game drive, a Boma dinner and Gala dinner.

Twelve companies, a number of which had stands, sponsored the event. The SAIMM would like to thank; Anglo Operations, Base Metals Division, Anglovaal Mining Ltd, Aquatan (pty) Ltd, Delkor Technik (pty) Ltd, Engineered linings (pty) Ltd, GL & V, Kaytech Engineered Fabrics, Larox SA (pty) Ltd, Murray and Roberts, Tawana Projects (pty) Ltd, Vibreasep (pty) Ltd and Zinc Corporation of South Africa.

Catherine McInnes, the organizing committee and the SAIMM Secretariat must be thanked for all their hard work in organizing the conference.

Todd J. Harvey, GeoBiotics LLC, USA. Email: tharvey@geobiotics.com




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