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The potential of microwave technology, which exploits the differing thermal dielectric properties of minerals to enhance grain boundary fracture, has been understood for more than 20 years, but has not been considered commercially viable until recently because of the large amount of energy required.
However recent developments, such as pulsed microwave technology may overcome this.
As microwave technology is aimed at improving mineral liberation, its major use will probably be in comminution, and will bring real advantages to the processing of ores, such as diamonds, where the valuable mineral needs to be recovered intact.
However there are many aspects of mineral processing and extractive metallurgy where the use of microwaves will have importance, and the areas that have been intensively researched over recent years include:
The purpose of this, the 1st MEI conference focusing on the use of microwave technology in minerals engineering, was to provide a meeting place for researchers and developers worldwide, who have been actively involved in this emerging technology, and to review the future potential of this technique in the industry.
Papers presented have been published in a Proceedings CD-ROM, but authors have also been invited to submit their work for peer-review and publication in a special Microwave Technology issue of Minerals Engineering journal.
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