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Lead Zinc '05
Kyoto, Japan, October 17-19, 2005
The Lead & Zinc ’05 conference was held in the beautiful Kyoto, Japan. This conference is a part of a conference series held every 10 years, filling the gap in the Lead-Zinc-Tin conference series since 1970, the last being Lead Zinc 2000. This conference, due to the ca. 300 delegates mainly from industry, is an important event for the international lead and zinc industry. The format of this conference is therefore also such that the eight plenary lectures by mostly industry leaders were well attended in the morning and valuable through their respective contents. The following plenary lectures of note can be mentioned:
- "Shifting patterns in global lead supply and demand" by Hassall and Roberts, discuss especially the emerging and dominating role of China in future lead production both from primary and secondary sources.
- Deller (CRU) discusses the "World zinc supply and demand" arguing that supply of raw materials is lagging behind demand due to various reasons hence spiking prices for a short while in the future.
- Wilkinson from the International Zinc Association discusses various challenges and opportunities of the zinc industry. For example in the Galvanized Autobody Partnership the steel industry and other partners are galvanizing new advanced high strength steels for cars and optimizing the coating quality. Another interesting accomplishment is the development of zinc-air / nickel-zinc batteries which have the potential to be used in electric vehicles. The zinc industry is also a leader in the metals industry in the generation of environmental data, life cycle assessment and toxicological information on zinc.
- The paper by Stephens on the advances in primary lead smelting is an excellent overview of this industry and is recommended reading.
- An overview of applications of lead provides some perspective on where lead could be applied other than in the 80% of batteries. Possible applications would be in hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), remote area power supply (RAPS), load levelling batteries, safe shield for nuclear waste disposal, in the use of liquid metal magnetohydrodynamics (LMMHD) for energy generation and earthquake dampers.
The other three plenary lectures were (i) an overview of a survey on secondary lead smelters and refiners, (ii) a brief paper on advances and challenges of zinc production, and finally (iii) a rather standard overview of zinc recycling technology now and in the future.
All in all these plenary lectures were an extremely valuable part of this conference and on their own made attendance of this event worthwhile!
The rest of the conference was devoted to various aspects of zinc and lead production in three parallel sessions. Sessions included such topics as:
- "Zinc and Lead operations", which provide valuable information on current industrial practice. These sessions were well attended and form together with the plenary lectures, the heart and soul of this conference; hence the main reason for practitioners to attend this meeting.
- "Environmental practices" also formed an important aspect of this conference, reflecting how seriousness the industry is improving its image in this regard!
- "Zinc concentrate leaching practices" discuss various old aspects and new developments in the field.
- In the "Lead recycling" session various standard practices for lead battery recycling were discussed.
- In the "New zinc technologies" session various studies were presented on the processing of for example zinc containing residues, electric arc furnace dust, new sulphide ores and the extraction of zinc from leach solutions by solvent extraction.
- A variety of new technologies were discussed in a more fundamental/theoretical manner in this like named session.
- Oxide-Zinc technology such as the leaching of oxidic ores at for example the Skorpion zinc plant was discussed in this session.
- Lead and zinc applications were discussed in a small session of three papers!
- Finally, a session devoted to the Imperial Smelting Furnace technology, ended the conference. A key note lecture on the furnace and its present difficult position was presented by Lee from Imperial Smelting Processes.
The papers are all printed in a two volume 1489 pages set of proceedings, published by The Mining and Materials Processing Institute of Japan (MMIJ). The Editor Professor Toshiharu Fujisawa (Nagoya University, Japan) and his co-editors can be commended by this mostly valuable piece of work. It can definitely be recommended to both practitioner and academic. The book can be purchased from MMIJ (ISBN 4-9900143-5-9)
Prof. Markus A. Reuter - University of Melbourne, Australia.