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MEI Online: Commodities: Metallic Ores: Copper: Conference Reports: HydroCopper 2005


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HydroCopper 2005
Santiago, Chile
November 23-25, 2005

The International Copper Hydrometallurgy Workshop known as HydroCopper 2005 was held at Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center in Santiago, Chile. This is the third of a series of conferences held in Chile every two years. It is organized by the Mining Department of the University of Chile and GECAMIN LTDA. The conference chairman was Dr. Jorge Menacho, Technical Manager of the consulting firm De Re Metallica in Santiago. Dr. Jesus Casas, professor of hydrometallurgy at the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Chile was the General Secretary. A short course on hydrometallurgy took place on November 23 and was attended by over one hundred participants.

The conference was opened in the evening of November 23 by the welcoming address of the Director of the Mining Department, University of Chile followed by few words by the conference chairman. Dr. William Culver, professor of Political Science at the State University in New York then gave a historical sketch of the early hydrometallurgical work of James Douglas (1837-1918) and Thomas Stery Hunt (1826-1892) conducted in the 1860s in Quebec, Canada and in 1871 at Invernada in Chile. The story is fascinating because Douglas was theology student who studied medicine like his father and became interested in developing a new process to extract copper from his father’s mine in Quebec where the ore grade was declining and there were signs that the property may be destined to closure. Douglas was helped by Sterry Hunt, the first chemistry professor at Laval University from 1856 to 1862.

Although the process was a failure, Douglas, never-the-less founded what became later known as Phelps Dodge Company in USA, became a millionaire and donated generously to the University of Arizona, his alma mater Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and others. The Culver presentation was followed by another original audio-visual poetry reading by the famous Chilean poet Reinaldo Mandoza. The evening was terminated by a cocktail reception.

The next two days started by the authors’ breakfast followed by the technical sessions, coffee breaks and lunchs. The 24th November banquet was held at Camino Real - Enoteca at Cerro San Cristobal, a high elevation suburb of Santiago where the participants enjoyed an excellent dinner and a fascinating South American folk dancing show. The number of participants was 320 from 15 countries: Argentina (1), Australia (2), Brazil (5), Canada (7), China (2), Finland (4), Germany (2), Japan (4), Mexico (1), Peru (12), South Africa (5), Spain (1), Switzerland (1), and USA (6). The remainders were Chileans. The conference was conducted smoothly and punctually, speakers were timed exactly to the minute, the lecture hall was always full, simultaneous translations Spanish-English and vice versa was excellent, Power Points were perfect, discussions at the end of each session were very intelligent, and the papers presented were of the highest calliper. The proceedings volume was available to all participants and was remarkably well edited and well produced. The conference included also few original ideas such as a special screen for the Head Table participants, a small screen for authors to show him or her the time, and a small handy gadget that functions as pointer as well as for changing the Power Point slides.

Dr. Carlos Barahona, Executive Director of GECAMIN, his distinguished co-workers Isabel Espinosa and Fabiola Bustamente, and the other crew members are to be congratulated for this wonderful effort. Naturally, the local Organizing Committee did a great job in soliciting, selecting, and publishing an excellent collection of papers.

The next conference will take place in Santiago in November 2007. Santiago at the foot of the snow-covered Andes, is a beautiful modern city with many high rise buildings, of over 5 million populations, has excellent museums particularly to mention the Archeological Natural History Museum. All the best.

Fathi Habashi, Laval University, Canada; Fathi.Habashi@gmn.ulaval.ca




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