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MEI Online: People News: Europe: January 15th 2007


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:: Christopher Cambridge Dell - 1921-2007

Chris Dell, who died recently just 10 days before his 86th birthday, was well known in the minerals industry for his outstanding contributions to the science, practice and teaching of mineral processing. He was an ingenious inventor producing at least three major contributions: the Leeds flotation column, the Leeds laboratory flotation cell and a counter-current decantation column. These were supported by the NRDC and British coal who also tested the flotation column on a full-scale operation, whilst the lab cell proved to be widely popular for small-scale testwork. He was always coming up with new “wizard wheezes”, many of which worked well. His philosophy for the design of flotation circuits was to keep it as simple and practical as possible using graphical techniques including release analysis, multi-component release analysis and timed batch tests. These techniques were thoroughly tested by several generations of his research students. He helped to develop the Applied Mineral Sciences degree (now Mineral Engineering) at Leeds University, introducing many of these methods into the course especially in the final year projects. Students received a thorough grounding in ways of assessing plant performance and lab testwork. He produced the manuscript of a book on this topic that unfortunately has never been published. He also taught practical subjects such as materials handling and solid/liquid separation. He acted as examinations co-ordinator for some years and departmental safety officer. He had an early concern for environmental matters. A good example of this was his investigation of the lead content of his garden soil and home-grown vegetables as a result of using compost from leaves fallen in the streets of Leeds.


Mr Dell was educated at University College School in London and graduated with a degree in Mining from the Royal School of Mines in 1941. He spent the remaining war years working on sights for low-level bombing at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough. From 1946 to 1952 he worked at the Mufulira concentrator in the copper belt of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), acting as plant superintendent for a time. He then worked for several years at the Coal Research Establishment at Stoke Orchard, Gloucestershire, where he was a head of section. In 1959 he joined the Department of Mining at Leeds University as a lecturer becoming a senior lecturer in 1966. He was a Fellow of the Minerals Engineering Society and the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy.

Chris Dell
Chris Dell


Outside of technical matters, Chris was a keen gardener, producing particularly fine Delphiniums. He was a very talented oil painter of portraits and landscapes. He was also a fine singer, participating in several church choirs. After retirement he developed a keen interest in archaeology after finding a Roman well under his back kitchen in Aldeborough. He was also treasurer of the Yorkshire section of MENCAP for some years. These activities represent only a few of his many and varied interests

Chris Dell was very much a family man. He is survived by his widow, Diana, and a son and two daughters, another son having predeceased him. He was always popular with students and colleagues, helpful to those in need and tolerant and fair to all. He was gentle, modest and unassuming. He had a good sense of humour - perhaps a bit “school-boyish”, making the odd, slightly risqué comment, particularly about nick-naming politicians he did not agree with. He will be greatly missed by all for his enthusiasm, encouragement and balanced outlook on life.

The affection and respect in which Chris was held was shown by the large numbers who gathered in Ripon Cathedral to bid him farewell.

Nevill Rice, 21 Green Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG2 9JP, U.K.




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