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MEI Online: MEI Conferences: Bio- & Hydrometallurgy 05: Conference Report

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Bio- & Hydrometallurgy '05
Cape Town, South Africa. March 16-18 2005

Dr. R.W. Barley, Camborne School of Mines, UK. Email: R.W.Barley@exeter.ac.uk

Once again the magnificent Mount Nelson Hotel was the location for this conference. The quality of the surroundings and the excellent food set the scene for another successful event. As Barry Wills mentioned in his introduction, it is the smaller size of these events that encourages participation in the discussion, promotes exchange of ideas and during the extended refreshment breaks, allows networking among the attendees.

42 delegates attended the conference from 11 different countries, a truly international gathering. In the Poster Introductions session, 5 short presentations were made. The coffee breaks gave the delegates ample opportunity to discuss these while enjoying the Mount Nelson refreshments. During the 4 technical sessions, 20 papers were presented and in the relaxed atmosphere of the conference, a lively debate of many of the papers followed.

Four of the posters were reporting the results of laboratory-based studies, the only industrial poster was a study of the control of a filtration process. Three of the studies were driven by environmental pressures to clean up effluents. The fourth poster was about the search for an economic extraction route for a black shale deposit.

In the first technical session there were 8 papers presented under the heading of Hydrometallurgy. Five different metals were considered in these papers, zinc, nickel, cadmium, molybdenum and silver. Again the drivers behind these studies were either environmental or economic. The last 2 papers in this session were more theoretical, one developing the concept of a leaching numberto compare the performance of different leaching systems and the other comparing experimental dispersion results in a laboratory porous media with those predicted by CFD modelling.

The gala dinner was held on the evening of the first day. The evening started outside by the fountain in the grounds of the hotel, where the warm evening was enjoyed while sipping drinks and chatting. Then an excellent meal was enjoyed by all, the main course being shank of springbok, and again discussion and interaction continued during the evening.

The first technical session on the second day was on Base Metal Hydrometallurgy and four papers were presented under this heading. These were all laboratory-based studies and were concerned with the recovery of copper. These ranged from an investigation of the effect of microwaves on leaching kinetics, a very interesting field of research with potential industrial applications, to a study of mineralogical and other indicators of the heap leaching behaviour of Chilean ores. The other two studies were both looking at the leaching of complex copper sulphide ores, one approach to use bio-leaching and the other sulfuric acid in the presence of hydrogen peroxide, both were in the early stages and hadn't been too successful.

Session 3 was entitled Environmental Aspects and also consisted of four papers, all of which were again laboratory studies but this time with a range of metals considered including copper, uranium, silicon and aluminium. Two were about remediation of Acid Drainage by different techniques. The other two considered removal of metals from industrial effluents/streams.

At the end of day two there was an optional excursion to Groot Constantia for wine tasting and a meal. Those attending had an enjoyable night, making the early start of 9am on the last day difficult to make!

The final session of the conference was devoted to Biotechnology. Again four papers were presented The metals copper, nickel and iron being the subjects of these studies. Two of the papers were on bioleaching, one on biosorption and the final paper on CFD modelling of heap leaching.

The conference ended at lunch time on the third day, but not all the delegates departed. An intrepid group scaled the Table Mountain in the afternoon and pictures to prove this can be found on the MEI website. Congratulations to the MEI team for organising another successful event.



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