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2012 CEEC Workshop
June 11-12, 2012
Noosa, Australia

40 attendees, 30 companies; miners, equipment manufacturers, researchers, consultants, service providers and consultants from across the globe arrived in Noosa Heads, Queensland on Monday 11th June for a two day workshop. The Workshop invitation challenged delegates to resolve:

  • 1. What can be done now in design and operation to implement what is already known about energy-efficient comminution?
  • 2. What R&D needs to be undertaken to deliver paradigm change, eg a 75% reduction in comminution energy in the next 10 years?

Some delegates had flown 32 hours to reach this event, and every continent was represented. Peers renewed acquaintances, while introductions were made: for me it was a chance to put a face to the many emails authors from the past 12 months.

The CEEC Workshop was opened with a presentation by Dr Geoff Garrett, the Chief Scientist of Queensland. A Cambridge graduate in metallurgy and an academic for 13 years, Geoff led two of the world's major national research institutions - CSIR in South Africa (1995-2000) and CSIRO in Australia (2001-2008). Dr Garrett’s theme was innovation and he gave compelling argument for the need for far greater innovation in Australia, and in the mining sector. Scandinavian companies could take solace in the fact that their companies collaborating on innovation by size and sector lead the rest of the world, with countries such as UK and Australia a long way down the list (OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2009 - OECD © 2009).

Presentations from mining company representatives Chris George of BHP Billiton and Noko Phala of AngloGold Ashanti gave the mining company view on energy efficiency in comminution. Questions such as the importance of comminution in the mix of management issues was debated, as well as the need to look outside the industry for solutions, leveraging untapped resources such as InnoCentive, the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer that enables organizations to solve their “problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees,customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace”.

Strategies for energy management and conservation were presented by Alan Bye, SMI CRC-ORE , and Victor Bush, Newmont in the morning while the engineering view was outlined by Michael Young Xstrata Technology and Greg Lane from Ausenco after midday.

With the different views in mind, small groups were asked to define the problem and identify the key obstacles to change, ranking these in order. A sample of the issues includes a lack of use and implementation of existing tools; poor maintenance practices; lack of skills; lack of metallurgists and operators; failure to respond to the characteristics of the rock and its variability; lack of appreciation of the size of the prize; poor spending on R&D; work in “silos”; the need to tackle the system and not focus on individual components; fear of change; lack of documented operating strategy and operating outside the design of the site.

Sharing and collaboration was strong: teams wasted no time getting to business and openly discussing the issues from their own perspective. They were asked to select the key topics for both short term and long term roadmaps, looking specifically at what can be done now in design and operation, what R&D and other outputs are required to achieve a paradigm change and what intra-industry collaboration may be needed in each case.

Day One concluded with an outstanding presentation by Dr Tim Kastelle from the University of Queensland Business School addressing innovation. Tim gave great examples of innovation which seemed doomed for failure when they were first launched: the fax machine; the replacement of the Swiss watch as the best time keeper ( Quartz movements are ten times more accurate and cheaper); the introduction of photocopy machines, deemed far to costly when compared against manual duplicating or carbon copies. Only when introduced to replace typists in the office typing pool did the photocopy machine become economically viable. Tim’s argument was entertaining and engaging; he drew many analogies with the challenges for process of crushing and grinding rock, leaving us all to ponder if existing technologies outside the mining industry could be applied in innovative ways to reduce energy consumption in the mineral processing system.

Prof’s Malcolm Powell (UQ JKMRC) and Mike Nelson (University of Utah) challenged the delegates early on Day 2 to consider a leap in thinking. Remotely controlled drone robots sorting ore had smiles on everyone’s faces; use of selective breakage technology and dry separation were suggested. Groups worked on the creation of the Roadmaps, from a strategic perspective. All were advised against taking the usual path to problem solving: leaders tend jump into the swamp and wrestle the alligators, when flying overhead in a helicopter and planning the use of limited resources to manage or avoid the alligators delivers the optimal result. Groups critiqued each others work at midday, then polished their strategies for sharing with the full assembly after lunch.

Some “light bulb” moments were achieved, with ideas flowing even after the Workshop closed, via text and email. Suggestions for change included disregarding IP (it was acknowledged this will not be popular with corporate legal staff!) and open collaboration. Idea collection and management needs to be improvement.

The Roadmaps will be published shortly, and presented at Enermin 2012 as well as IMPC 2012. The 2012 Workshop delegates agreed to use CEEC as the vehicle for ongoing communication and coordination of projects via CEEC’s web site, LinkedIn group and Twitter account.

About CEEC: CEEC (Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution) was established in 2011 to support knowledge sharing and change in an area of high energy consumption for the mineral industry. CEEC is a not-for-profit company funded by grants from the mineral industry, whose mission is to accelerate knowledge and technology transfer in the field of energy-efficient comminution. www.ceecthefuture.org.

CEEC aims to raise awareness of beneficial comminution strategies with the objective of improving earnings, achieving lower process costs and gaining energy efficiencies in the mining sector. Launched in May 2011, CEEC is sponsored by Teck Resources Ltd, Gold Fields Ltd, Ausenco, Newcrest Mining Ltd, Xstrata Technology Ltd, Outotec, Metso, AMIRA International, JKTech Ltd, Sustainable Mineral Institute, Gekko Systems, Russell Mineral Equipment, Anglo American, MMG and IndoPhil Resources Nl.

CEEC has a comprehensive web site with a selected library of papers and presentations relating to eco-efficient comminution. Regular blog contributions are posted in the web site, as well as on CEEC’s LinkedIn Group. Over 500 global LinkedIn members participate in debate and knowledge sharing through this group.

CEEC awards a Medal annually for the most outstanding paper on eco-efficient comminution, details may be found on the CEEC web site. Nominations for the 2013 Medal close on March 15 2013.

For more information on CEEC: Sarah Boucaut +61422257425, admin@ceecthefuture.org

 

 

   

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