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MEI Online: General Minerals Engineering: Conference Reports: Statistical Methods for Minerals Engineers


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Statistical Methods for Minerals Engineers
Townsville, Australia, September 2014


Following the 3-day 12th AusIMM Mill Operators Conference in Townsville, Tim Napier-Munn of the JKMRC gave one of his JKTech workshops on statistical methods for mineral engineers, concentrating on the design and analysis of plant trials. The first day of the 2-day workshop was spent learning the basics (which we have all forgotten from our university days) through instruction and practice with the Excel statistical toolbox, and a second day was devoted to the analysis of data from several actual plant trials, working in small groups and discussing the results in plenary sessions so that experience could be shared and good experimental practice encouraged. The workshop was attended by 10 delegates from a number of Australian and overseas mining companies and vendors.

Experience has repeatedly shown that that the routine application of statistical methods in mineral engineering enhances the professional performance of the engineers and increases shareholder value. Other numerate professions have used the methods routinely for decades, because they have found it gives them a better bang for their experimental buck, and allows them to 'make wise decisions in the face of uncertainty'. Although it is one of those topics which everyone knows is important (which is why we are taught it at university), most of us find it hard to get to grips with in practice. Tim teaches it in context, with plenty of worked examples taken from real mineral processing and chemical assay practice, together with spreadsheets and a detailed manual to take away. As most if not all mineral engineers are competent Excel drivers, Excel with its Data Analysis toolbox and ability to accommodate particular computational solutions is a natural platform to help them learn to use statistical methods constructively. Judging by the feedback from delegates they found the exercise very useful and will be applying what they learned when they get back to their companies.

Tim's book on 'Statistical Methods for Mineral Engineers' will be published by the JKMRC later this year.




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