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MEI Online: General Minerals Engineering: Conference Reports: 42nd Conference of Metallurgists


The 42nd Conference of Metallurgists
Vancouver, British-Columbia, Canada, August 24-27 2003

The Conference of Metallurgists was held at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center Hotel under the theme “Global Solutions for Metals and Materials”, in conjunction with:

  • The International Symposium on Hydrometallurgy
  • The 33rd Annual Hydrometallurgical Meeting of the Metallurgical Society of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum
  • Fall Extraction and Processing Metallurgy Meeting of TMS

The number of participants was about 540 from 36 countries. Their geographical distribution was 48% Canada, 16% USA, 9% Australia, 4% Japan, 3% Chile, 2% Belgium and the remaining 18% from the Netherlands, Mexico, South Africa, France, UK, Norway, Finland, Italy, China, Germany, Austria, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Israel, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Mongolia, Peru, Venezuela, Egypt, Zambia, Botswana, Sweden, Belarus, Portugal, Poland, and Czech Republic.

The two days before the conference were devoted to short courses on hydrometallurgy and corrosion. A reception and the opening of the Trade Show were held on the first day of the conference on Sunday evening. Monday, August 25 was for the Plenary Session in the morning and a dinner cruise in the evening. Tuesday, August 26 was devoted to the technical sessions, Metallurgical Society Section Lunches, and evening Awards Banquet. The technical sessions continued on next day and included a Hydro 2003 Lunch in honor of Ian Richie. The conference schedule included a Companion Program during the four days meeting. Finally, on August 28, there were two industrial tours to choose from: The first to Cominco Trail Smelter and Refinery and the second to CESL Pilot Plant and Canadian Autoparts Toyota.

The Historical Metallurgy Luncheon was devoted to “The Social Responsibility of Scientists. Two Historic Lessons” and the Light Metals Luncheon was devoted to “The Role of Light Metals in Aerospace. Today and Tomorrow”. At the International Symposium on Hydrometallurgy, Ian M. Richie, professor emeritus at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia gave a plenary lecture, entitled, “Is Extractive Metallurgy Becoming Extinct?" He gave convincing evidence that enrollment in metallurgy departments all the world is declining. He explained that the extraction of metals is seen as a dirty, and a polluting industry which involves working in remote and uncomfortable areas for inadequate compensations.

This may be true, but the present writer does not share this opinion. While enrollment in metallurgy departments is actually declining, extractive metallurgy as a discipline is still alive and in excellent situation. There has never been an extensive literature in this field, whether textbooks or proceedings volumes of conferences as it is today. New processes for extracting metals have been invented by a number of research departments in industry, e.g., INCO, Falconbridge, COMINCO, Phelps Dodge, and Outokumpu, to mention only a few. It should be pointed out that enrollment in metallurgy departments should not be the measure of the success of this sector because extractive metallurgy courses may be improperly situated. For example, hydrometallurgy is taught in many chemical engineering departments as at the University of Toronto. Mineral processing is taught at the University of Cape Town.

At Michigan Mining School founded in 1885, which became Michigan Technical University in 1964, metallurgy is part of Chemical Engineering. The same situation exists at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. At the Trondheim Institute of Technology in Norway pertinent work on the extractive metallurgy of aluminum is done at the Department of Chemistry under Professor Kaj Grojtheim while solvent extraction is also conducted there. Further, graduate work in extractive metallurgy is conducted in Russia in many institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences in collaboration with local universities. For example at the Institute of Chemical and Chemical Technology of the Siberian Branch of the Academy in Krasnoyarsk research on the metallurgy of nonferrous metals is conducted under the guidance of Prof. Gennadi L. Pashkov. In addition, it is a fact that many metallurgical plants prefer hiring graduates from chemical engineering departments. For example, at the Canadian Copper Refiners in Montreal East, chemical engineers run the electrolytic refining of copper while at ALCAN in Quebec, chemical engineers operate the Bayer plant.

The proceeding volumes that were available at the conference and of interest to Minerals Engineering are:

  • Hydrometallurgy 2003, edited by C. A. Young, A. M. Alfantazi, C. G. Anderson, D. B. Dreisinger, B. Harris and A. James. ISBN 0-87339-554-9, 2 volumes, 2566 pages.
  • Light Metals, edited by J. Masounave, ISBN 1-894475-45-3.

The Organizing Committee, chaired by André Allaire and the large number of volunteers who participated in this effort are to be congraluted for an excellent program. CIM employees, in particular Gillian Jazzar are to be thanked for their magnificent effort. Next conference will take place August 22-25, 2004 in Hamilton Convention Center, Hamilton, Ontario.

Fathi Habashi, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada. Email: fathi.habashi@gmn.ulaval.ca




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