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10th Mill Operators’ Conference
Adelaide, Australia, October 12-14, 2009

When I took on the role of conference convener in 2007 I was apprehensive about the responsibility I had taken upon myself and the size of the job. When I walked into the conference room on the evening before opening I felt a sense of achievement, not only for myself but especially for the team that had brought us to this place. I must say at the outset that the conference organisation experience was far less stressful than imagined and this is all due to the professionalism of The AusIMM Conference and Publications team and the efforts of the Organising Committee. A special thank you must go to our sponsors, especially our Principal Sponsor Amdel, who came on board early and kept the faith in the lead up to the conference despite the dramatic change in economic conditions during the organising period.

To see the ballroom full with close to 300 delegates on the first morning of the conference further confirmed that our team had put together a package that resonated with our target audience.

The conference commenced with a welcome from Greg Chalmers, President of The AusIMM, followed by the official opening by the Honourable Paul Holloway MLC, Minister for Mineral Resources Development in the South Australian Government. Many of the themes touched on by the Minister were expanded on by Paul Heithersay, Executive Director, Minerals and Energy Resources, Primary Industries and Resources SA (PIRSA) in his keynote presentation. I know from delegate feedback that the magnitude of the minerals potential for South Australia, and the extent to which the SA government is encouraging development, were unknown to many in the room.

We deliberately kept on the local and operational theme with the first two presentations being on the startups of Prominent Hill in the north of South Australia and the Angas Zinc mine in the Adelaide Hills. The first day progressed with sessions continuing on the operations startup theme then strategies and design followed by flotation.

The day wound up with drinks, sponsored by Pac-Rim, in the exhibition foyer. I was expecting a drift off in people but at the scheduled finish time of 7:00 pm I am certain that no-one had left the foyer and the whole floor was buzzing with conversation (loud of course).

Day 2 commenced with a keynote presentation by our distinguished speaker, Professor Robin Batterham, Group Chief Scientist, Rio Tinto and formerly Australia’s Chief Scientist. Robin challenged us to consider where we are going as an industry and put up some interesting concepts of mines and plants we may see in the future. We are grateful that Robin was able to stay with us the full day and participated in an informal discussion group held immediately after the final session of the day which was convened by John Canterford. The discussion group was intended to cover topics of interest raised in the presentations, future directions and was also meant to start a progression towards similar discussions as part of the IMPC in 2010. It was an interesting time and some of the themes and contributions will be documented and distributed in the near future.

The day 2 conference papers covered the themes of operations design, history and expansion, equipment, comminution and flotation.

On the second evening the Conference Dinner was held and this was admirably chaired by one of our Committee Members, Janine Herzig. There were brief speeches and thanks, great food and drink, but it is difficult to remember all of that because of the amazing performance by our entertainer, Mick, The Demotivational Speaker.

The keynote presenter for day 3 was given by a tag team of Peter Munro and Peter Tilyard. We were challenged to see if change actually means progress with some excellent comparisons of the life, conditions and expectations for graduate mineral processing professionals in 1970 compared to now in 2009. We were also challenged to get back to the basics of good metallurgical practice, sadly lacking in many operational sites at present.

The sessions progressed though operational strategies and improvements, tailings, control and finished with process insights. One of the more pleasing aspects of the conference for me was a last session which was almost as full as the first of the week.

Other aspects that were pleasing were the strong and probing questions asked from the floor (and the lack of need for Dorothy-Dix questions from session chairs), the excellent standard of presentations from all presenters, the professionalism of our session chairs and the strong participation in all things conference related by our delegates.

The post conference tours were partially successful with an excellent tour to Prominent Hill and a less successful tour to Olympic Dam which was not able to be carried out according to plan (understandably) because of the devastating shaft failure which happened immediately before the Conference.

The high level of support from Principal Sponsor Amdel and Major Sponsors Thermo Fisher Scientific, Scanalyse and Outotec is gratefully acknowledged, as well as the support from PAC-RIM (Qld) Pty Ltd, Xstrata Technology, Magotteaux Australia Pty Ltd, GRD Minproc, OZ Minerals, Huntsman, Pacific Relines, Orica Mining Chemicals and Mining People International. The exhibitors Amdel, Consep, Cytec Australia Holdings Pty Ltd, GRD Minproc, JK Tech, Larox Corporation, Magotteaux Australia Pty Ltd, MEI, Metso Minerals (Australia) Limited, MIPAC, Nalco, Orica Mining Chemicals, Outotec, Russell Mineral Equipment, Scanalyse, Scantech, Steinert Australia and Thermo Fisher Scientific are also thanked for their support.

Many thanks to the Organising Committee, Greg Harbort, Janine Herzig, David Pollard, Nicola Semler and Michael Williams for putting up with my wild ideas. Many thanks to The AusIMM team of Miriam Way, Katy Andrews, Kristy Pocock and Kylie McShane for making it all happen. Thanks to the authors, reviewers, exhibitors, sponsors and the Hilton Hotel.

Conference Chair Dean David MAusIMM




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