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MEI Online: MEI Conferences: Comminution '10: Conference Report

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Comminution ’10, the 6th MEI Conference on comminution improved yet again with 165 delegates representing 23 countries meeting at the Vineyard hotel at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. 72 papers were presented over four full days from the 13-16th April 2010. The single session with an interactive exhibition and breaks area allowed for good interaction and the important side meetings throughout the conference. The setting was stunning, the catering superb, the interactions lively and the sessions well attended to provide a most worthwhile and satisfying conference.

The papers covered a wide range spanning breakage fundamentals, modelling and measuring the action in mills, mechanistic modelling, applied process improvement, and updates on equipment performance. This drew in a number of world renowned researchers, plus process engineers, plant operators and suppliers.

A number of researchers are taking up the challenge of tackling the mechanisms of breakage in comminution equipment and a series of excellent papers were presented in this area that must surely be the way forward in advanced circuit design. This is underpinned by considerable advances in the computational modelling of the mechanical action and fluid flow in grinding devices. We saw for the first time coupled solids-fluid modelling, so essential for transport modelling and providing realistic simulations of high-stress fine grinding equipment. These efforts are making considerable inroads into physical understanding as input to mechanistic models. These models are addressing the challenging aspects of transport as influenced by variable porosity, shear and slurry viscosity, alongside the mechanical breakage environment. This is reflected in such advances as a new model of fluid flow in moving porous beds to update Ergun’s famous relationship, and a detailed model of the energy distribution and probability of impact in a bed of particles caught between colliding balls.

State of the art validation and measurement techniques are now available to supplement and validate these modelling techniques. ICRA (International Comminution Research Association) hosted a two day workshop directly prior to the conference to provide an update of the PEPT (positron emission particle tracking) technique. This provides an accurate insight into the particle motion in realistic systems, and Cape Town PEPT is privileged to host the world’s best equipment at the iThemba laboratories. The excitement generated by the workshop was evident in the swath of top-notch PEPT papers at the conference. The great potential of this technique is covered in a review of its capability and potential with a number of papers covering the techniques and applications to comminution research.

Classification received considerable attention, as it well deserves. The interactive influence of classification efficiency on mill performance was highlighted for cyclones, wet fine screening – that is awaiting independently validated long-term field trials – and wet versus dry classification techniques. These advances challenge the traditional power-based circuit modelling that includes classification inefficiency, highlighting the need for advances in process modelling.

It is enlightening to see crusher research coming out of the giant aggregate industry and moving into mineral processing. This is a welcome new driver in crusher use and control. The influence of poor ore preparation tends to be overlooked, but it is becoming far more important as the industry moves to compressed bed breakage such as HPGR and explores dry processing that are dependent upon well controlled feed sizing. In the HPGR application the push is to utilise its full potential by shifting to a considerably finer grind, as in the evolution of finer cement grinding with the HPGR.

Multi-component modelling was notable for its absence, but undoubtedly is becoming the object of advanced modelling. There were some presentations extending and refining traditional power scale-up techniques. On-line monitoring of mill filling through sensors show real promise after some years of little progress in industrialising them. It will be a boon to good mill control to have accurate measures of mill filling on-line.

Fine grinding is pushing the limits up into finer ball milling - with a potential for energy savings of around 20% this should be a hot topic. Improved modelling, measuring the influence of media material, and advanced computational modelling are all contributing to advances in our understanding of the application of fine grinding.

Selected papers from the event have been peer-reviewed for this special Comminution ‘10 issue of Minerals Engineering.

The following major companies provided corporate support for the event:

  • JKTech
  • Magotteaux
  • Sigmund Lindner
  • DMM
  • Metso
  • ABB
  • Industrial Minerals
  • Gold & Minerals Gazette

Details of the programme, photographs, and the delegate list can be obtained at www.min-eng.com/comminution10

The 7th Comminution conference is scheduled for April 2012 in Cape Town. Judging by the interest in this one, the value of the event to those in this specialist field and the positive feedback, it promises to be unmissable!

Prof. Malcolm Powell, JKMRC, Australia
MEI Consultant

The following comments have been received from conference delegates:

I’d just like to thank you and the family for putting together a very enjoyable, informative and thoroughly professional conference in Cape Town. Very pleased to hear we’ll be back there in two years. Once again thank you very much it was one the best run events I have attended.
Dave Capstick, Deswik Mining Consultants, South Africa

Thanks for the conference. It was a great networking opportunity and an excellent variety of papers and topics were discussed.
Braam Durant, Anglo Platinum - DML, South Africa

This time Comminution 10 took place at the beautiful Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa on April 13 through 16, 2010. On Tuesday, Jon Wills at the inaugural invited us to reflect on our amazing accomplishments over the past 25 years while we look forward to the future. Raj Rajamani started out by sharing his thoughts on the unified comminution model which was followed by a beautiful piece of work by L.M Tavares. There were several talks of very high quality from academic institutes and industry alike and I enjoyed all of them during my four-day stay. I learnt about several progresses that have been made with respect to modeling comminution processes, equipment design and operation, and above all PEPT. PEPT holds a lot of promise and I am going to explore more in that area.

Once again I found DEM work of Paul Cleary very impressive. The conference ended with a beautiful piece of work by Malcolm Powell who shared his views with respect to energy conservation. Finally, the thought of HPGR-Isamill circuit replacing the good old SAG-Ball mill circuit took me by surprise. If anyone out there trying a PR campaign then please make sure it works before starting the campaign. Having said that, for the sake of energy reduction and improved overall resource usage, or perhaps our planet’s sake, I will support the idea.

In many respects, Comminution 10 was a well-organized conference. With years of experience putting on conferences, Barry Wills and his team knew how to make a conference run smoothly. Arrangements were superb. While several talks were of very high standard, I still found the overall amount of “practical” content dealing with plant practice, process control, and optimization at Comminution 10 was lacking. This was particularly disappointing, because the conference convened in South Africa—a leader in mineral processing and home to many leading mineral processing companies.

One of the major disappointments for me was to see people trying to re-invent the wheel. They must read at least the books written by L G Austin and R P King before raking up issues and making presentations on those that have been well settled. Also, as academicians and researchers we must get as close as possible to other’s work and must give credit to others—acknowledge them for their part in bringing about results!!

Comminution 10 offered refreshments coffee breaks and served lunch which was good. I really liked the format of long coffee break because we got time for interactive discussions—often on embarrassing and controversial topics. The conference dinner took place on the Wednesday evening. It was truly an exciting African experience at the Spier Wine Estate in the Stellenbosch wine region. I made it to the dinner where they served wonderful food. I ate couple of excellent vegetarian dish, and finished off the night buying a bottle of Spier wine. I had a wonderful time at Cape Town attending Comminution 10 and I will certainly look forward to April 24, 2012 for the next comminution conference.

Prof. B.K. Mishra, IMMT, India

Enjoyed Comminution 2010 and met several very interesting people there.
Hans von Michaelis, Randol International, South Africa




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