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MEI Online: General Minerals Engineering: Conference Reports: Mineral Processing 2002


Mineral Processing 2002
Cape Town, South Africa, August 1-2, 2002

Mineral Processing 2002, the annual conference of the Western Cape Branch of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, took place on the 1st and 2nd of August at the President Hotel in Cape Towns Bantry Bay.

Organised in collaboration with the University of Cape Town, the University of Stellenbosch, and Cape Technikon, this was the 21st conference in the series. With 200 delegates drawn from 12 countries on six continents, it can truly be said to have come of age.

From small beginnings, starting in the seaside town of Gordons Bay in 1982, the Conference has established itself as the premier annual mineral processing forum for South Africa. Although far removed from its main mining industry customers, it has always enjoyed their enthusiastic support. This year was no exception, with more than 80 delegates representing 12 mining and processing groups and another 40 from half that number of equipment and chemical manufacturers supplying the minerals industry. Technical and academic credibility of the programme was vouchsafed by the presence of some 40 researchers from other universities and research institutions, many of whom presented papers, in addition to the home team from the Cape institutions.

Established initially to showcase local research and researchers, this years programme of 43 technical papers included 12 presentations from overseas groups, whilst a further five were concerned with collaborative research involving overseas partners, such is the international nature of minerals processing research in the 21st century. The Western Cape institutions are in the forefront of this movement, with the presence of Professor Jim Finch, who delivered the opening plenary lecture entitled Managing gas dispersion: a way to improve flotation plant performance, occasioned by the AMIRA-sponsored research collaboration between the JKMRC, UCT, and now McGill University in Montreal.

The technical programme included two sessions 11 papers concerned with aspects of flotation, while the total number of papers on comminution / classification topics was only eight. Unusual by world standards, this reflects the needs and priorities of the South African platinum industry, the main supporter of local research. The rewards for even a small improvement in flotation recovery of platinum group metals are very large indeed, and warrant a major international research programme.

Other topics within the programme ranged widely over, inter alia, modelling and simulation, metal accounting, smelting and a range of biotechnologies for the minerals industry, reflecting the diversity of work being undertaken at the southern tip of Africa.

Exceptionally delegates enjoyed review papers from three members of the Steering Committee for the XXll International Mineral Processing Congress, to be held in Cape Town from 28th September until 3rd October next year. With an Organising Committee founded on the team that put together Mineral Processing 2002, this will surely be something not to be missed.

See you in Cape Town.

Martin Wright. Email: martin.wright@chemeng.uct.ac.za




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