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MEI Online: Hydrometallurgy: Conference Reports: 2004 Parker Centre Hydrometallurgy Conference


2004 Parker Centre Hydrometallurgy Conference
Product Recovery and Impurity Control: Pure Products from Clean Processing

March 21-23, 2004
Perth, Australia

The 2004 Parker Centre Hydrometallurgy Conference on Product Recovery and Impurity Control, held in Perth in March, attracted 62 world experts in these key areas of hydrometallurgy.

The invited delegates met for two days of informal presentations and panel-led discussions in six sessions covering electrowinning of certain metals; precipitation; crystallisation & scale control; impurity control & by-products and hydrogen reduction & alternative processes. The current state-of-the-art in product recovery and impurity control were discussed and technical roadblocks to improved performance were identified.

The attendees represented 35 mining and engineering companies, consultants and technology suppliers and 11 government research organisations/universities. They came from 10 different countries: Canada, Australia, South Africa, the US, Belgium, Poland, South Korea, India, New Zealand and Brazil.

The presentations in the first two sessions focused on electrowinning of copper, zinc, nickel and manganese. Advances in anode technology and the incorporation of metallic impurities into cathodes were also topics.

The crystallisation session ranged from the microscopic understanding of alumina particle characteristics to a presentation of the problems of making solar salt by the square kilometre where the effects of the marine biology and cyclones need to be managed.

The session on impurity control and by-products included an interesting presentation on a likely application of chloride leaching technology.

In the last session, advances in the hydrogen reduction of nickel at WMC Resources’ Kwinana Nickel Refinery over the last 30 years were described, while another presenter spoke about recovering valuable metals from electronic scrap and waste dry cell batteries.

Finally, the Chairs of the panels summarised the outcomes, ideas and future challenges facing the industry from the perspective of the unit processes specific to each of the six sessions.

There were also three guest speakers. Dr Raj Rajakumar (Technical Director, Light Metals Flagship, CSIRO Minerals) spoke on the emerging trends and challenges in magnesium production. Dr Ray Shaw (General Manager-Technology Support, Rio Tinto Technology) and Mr Laurence Stonehouse (General Manager Technology, Alcoa World Alumina) both touched on industry’s need and responsibility to foster research excellence and how their company’s research requirements are now met from within and also globally accessed.

Following the conference, there were two optional tours of a number of hydrometallurgical operations in Western Australia. The first toured Alcoa’s Pinjarra alumina refinery, the Tiwest synthetic rutile plant at Chandala and the Tiwest chlorinatioin pigment plant at Kwinana. The second tour was a fly-in fly-out visit to Minara Resources’ Murrin Murrin operations to see the nickel laterite pressure acid leach plant and mine.

This third in the series of biennial Parker Centre Conferences was actually held in March 2004 rather than October 2003 due to conflicts with other international conferences.

The next conference is planned for early in 2006. The theme is yet to be finalised.



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