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MEI Online: Hydrometallurgy: Conference Reports: International Solvent Extraction


International Solvent Extraction Conference
Cape Town, South Africa
17-21 March 2002

ISEC, the triennial International Solvent Extraction Conference, is the premier meeting of solvent extraction (SX) experts. Hosted for the first time in Africa, ISEC 2002 took place in Cape Town from 17 to 21 March 2002. One of the most successful meetings of recent years, the conference was attended by over 350 delegates from some 40 countries and six continents, and included representation from academia, research institutions, suppliers, engineering contractors, and plant operations.

The ISEC 2002 technical programme emphasized applied aspects of solvent extraction, particularly less traditional and emerging applications, but theory and fundamentals were not neglected. The conference was opened by Barry Davison, Chair of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, who provided a rare insight into the global platinum market. Five excellent plenary addresses tackled issues that ranged from nanotechnology to plant operations. Representing industry were Gord Bacon (INCO, Canada), who spoke on SX as an enabling technology in the nickel industry, and Peter Charlesworth (Anglo Platinum, South Africa) who discussed SX developments in the refining of platinum-group metals. Marc Halpern (PTC Organics, USA) related commercial experience in another area to traditional SX in his presentation “Achieving high performance low cost processes for the manufacture of organic chemicals using phase transfer catalysis”. Alan Hatton of MIT discussed “Tailored solvents for green processing of chemicals and biochemicals” and Robin Rogers (U Alabama) introduced the concept of room temperature ionic liquids as alternatives to traditional organic solvents in SX, both providing intriguing glimpses of the cutting edges of SX research,.

The main technical sessions each kicked off with a Keynote address by a renowned expert in the field, and were followed by a series of oral and poster presentations. Some 230 papers were presented. Fundamental studies covered coalescence and interfacial phenomena, advances in SX theory, kinetics and mass transfer, extractants, and novel developments. Sessions also focussed on analytical, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and nutriceutical applications, membranes, petrochemical, nuclear and hydrometallurgical applications, and on process engineering and design.

The Carl Hanson Medal, sponsored by Dechema and the Society of Chemical Industry, is presented every three years for excellence in the field of SX. Selected by the International Committee on Solvent Extraction, the award this year was made to Gordon Ritcey of Canada.

ISEC 2002 also provided a showcase for reagent and equipment vendors, with a small exhibition accompanying the conference. The main conference sponsors were Anglo American Platinum Corporation, Anglo American Research Laboratories, and Cytec. Other generous sponsors and exhibitors included Avecia, Bateman Engineering, Bayer, Cognis, Engen Chemicals, ExxonMobil, Marcel Dekker, Mintek, Rhodia, Sasol, Schümann Sasol, Shell Chemicals, Spintek, and Technical Center Halle.

As antidotes to the more serious business of the week, several social events provided opportunities for delegates to make new friends as well as experience some of the beauty that The Mother City has to offer. A cable car trip up Table Mountain yielded spectacular views and a relaxing afternoon. The conference banquet was held at Nederberg, an internationally renowned wine estate. Accompanied by a glorious sunset over the Paarl mountains, traditional African entertainment, wine tasting, and excellent food and music, it was certainly an evening to remember.

Two post-conference technical tours visited base metal, precious metal, industrial and fine chemical SX plants in South Africa, and also provided an opportunity for delegates to experience the unique African bush and wildlife of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Visits to Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum provided interesting contrasts of the base and precious metals’ refining operations of the world’s two largest platinum producers. Tours also visited Sasol, the largest synthetic fuels facility in the world and a leading supplier of liquid fuels and other petrochemical byproducts, and CSIR’s BioChemtek Division which specialises in applications of solvent extraction in the food and biotechnology industries.

Proceedings of the International Solvent Extraction Conference ISEC 2002, K. C. Sole, P. M. Cole, J. S. Preston and D. J. Robinson (eds.), South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Johannesburg, 2002, 1446 pp. Available as a two-volume publication (ISBN 1-919783-24-5) (R2000 + R300 postage) or on CD-ROM (ISBN 1-919783-25-3) (R500 + R50 postage). Abstracts of the papers are available on the conference website at www.isec2002.org.za. Proceedings can be ordered from:
South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
P O Box 61127, Marshalltown 2107, South Africa
Tel: +27-11-834-1273
Fax: +27-11-838-5923
Email: sam@saimm.co.za

Kathy Sole: Email: ksole@aarl.co.za

...and a report received from one of the conference delegates:

The INTERNATIONAL SOLVENT EXTRACTION CONFERENCE, ISEC2002, held at the Holiday Inn, Strand Street, Cape Town from March 18th to 21st 2002, sponsored by the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, was the sixteenth in a series of such conferences held at roughly triennial intervals since the initial meeting at Gatlinburg, Tennessee in 1962. It was attended by 331 delegates from 33 countries. A total of 199 papers were presented.

There were five plenary lectures:

  • Solvent Extraction as an enabling technology in the nickel industry
    (G.Bacon, vice-president, INCO Ltd)
  • Room temperature ionic liquids as alternatives to traditional organic solvents
    (R.D.Rogers, University of Alabama)
  • Achieving high-performance low-cost processes for the manufacture of organic chemicals using phase-transfer catalysis
    (M.Halpern, president, PTC Organics, Inc.)
  • Tailored solvents and colloids for green processing of chemicals and bio chemicals
    (T.A.Hatton, MIT)
  • Developments in platinum-group metals refining and the utilisation of solvent-extraction technologies
    (P.Charlesworth, Divisional director, Anglo Platinum)
  • At a further plenary session the Carl Hanson Memorial Medal was awarded to Gordon Ritcey, who gave an address detailing highlights of his long career and vast experience as a researcher and consultant in the field of hydrometallurgical solvent extraction processes.

110 papers (including Keynote addresses) were presented in five parallel oral sessions.

Topics covered included:
Biochemistry (2 sessions)
Environmental Applications (3 sessions)
Extractants (3 sessions)
Fundamentals (3 sessions including interfacial phenomena, SX theory, micelles and micro-emulsions)
Hydrometallurgy (5 sessions entitled: “Copper Extraction“, “Cobalt and Nickel”, “Zinc”, “Rare-earth and General” and “Precious Metals”. There were also a number of papers in the Poster sessions. Other papers of hydrometallurgical interest appeared in the sessions on extractants and process engineering)
Membranes, Novel Developments (2 sessions)
Nuclear Applications (2 sessions)
Petrochemicals, (2 sessions)
Process Engineering (3 sessions)

Each topic was introduced by a Keynote speaker. There were also two poster sessions with 84 papers covering a wide range of the above topics.

The meeting was well organised at a very convenient venue in an attractive city but the need to run five parallel sessions inevitably restricted the delegate’s ability to cover everything of interest except in the poster sessions. An excellent social programme was organised including a trip to the top of Table Mountain midway through the meeting and a thoroughly enjoyable conference dinner at the Nederburg Winery near Paarl (despite a certain lack of navigational ability on the part of some of the bus drivers).

The formal meeting was followed by a series of informative technical tours to the Impala Platinum base and precious metals refineries near Springs in Gauteng province, the Sasol 2 and 3 oil from coal petroleum refineries at Sekunda in Mpumalanga province, the AngloPlatinum base and precious metals refineries at Rustenburg, North West province and the CSIR BioChemtek facilities near Johannesburg. A proposed visit to the gold SX refinery at Pelindaba was cancelled.

The organising committee are to be congratulated on an excellently organised and very enjoyable and efficiently run meeting and especially in making the proceedings available at the meeting in both electronic and hard-copy format. My only criticism is that there were too many parallel sessions to allow everything to be taken in. This was inevitable though given the wide range of applications of the technology and the number of papers presented. Having attended ISEC type conferences since 1965, I feel that there does seem to be some tendency to “re-invent the wheel” especially in some of the more academically orientated work, despite the refereeing of all submissions. Again this is probably inevitable in most conferences given the need to maximise the number of delegates but it is to be hoped that prospective authors would carry out a thorough literature survey, not just of recent work, before committing themselves to a project.

Dr Nevill Rice, Department of Mining and Mineral Engineering, University of Leeds, UK




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