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MEI Online: MEI Conferences: Nickel Processing '10: Conference Report

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Set in the beautiful surrounds of Falmouth, �quality endures� is what comes to mind for this conference. Despite the common misperception that only large conferences deliver value, Nickel �10 has clearly demonstrated the contrary. The quality and diversity of papers presented, and the engaging discussion from the audience, tell the tale that it is who is writing and presenting papers, and who is attending, that far outweighs sheer volume and quantity. The dynamics that developed between academics, technical service agents and operations/project managers were most positive.

When I opened this conference, I spoke of the volatility of the nickel market, and the recent successful diversification with pig nickel; and how this meant we had to rise to the challenge as mineral processing engineers to develop more efficient, flexible processes that would enable the industry to sustainably handle uncertain future markets. When I closed the conference two days later, I certainly was encouraged by what I had seen.

The proceedings were an interesting and relevant mix of extractive and mineral processing disciplines, with some valuable new items from the environmental discipline. The laterite papers certainly had some progress to report for both hydro- and pyro- applications. Chris Harris, of Queens University, Canada, made an excellent contribution to the laterite pyrometallurgical programme with his work on the selective reduction and sulphidisation of nickel laterites. The news from Haceteppe University, Turkey, of a limonitic laterite orebody that appears amenable to atmospheric leaching is very significant. The sulphide programme was capably represented by Dr. Jacques Eksteen, of Lonmin, who presented no less than four excellent extractive papers in a row on the Friday morning. �An old paradigm revisited with better thinking� might have been an alternative title for Arthur Barnes� paper on the potential retreatment of pyrrhotite tailings at Sudbury.

In closing, I thank the authors and co-authors for their contributions, the delegates for their attention and interesting discussion, Xstrata Process Support for their sponsorship, and MEI for convening this useful conference with such focus.

Dr. Norman O. Lotter, Xstrata Process Support, Canada and MEI Consultant


.... and comments from conference delegates:

"I am by nature somewhat reticent, but in the case of Nickel Processing �10 I have to say it was a "rush". Definitely a case of smaller is better- The number of papers presented, the time allocated for the presentations and questions as well as adequate networking time during generous tea and lunch breaks provided an almost perfect balance between technical input from the papers and the vital networking that is essential for all delegates at conferences these days.
I also appreciated the care which went in to the proceedings- the fully browse able CD, linked to the conference timetable allowed those of us who wanted to to track the presentations.
You may have missed a small opportunity- an evaluation sheet at the end of the conference would probably have earned some very high scores. That is as close as I can come to a criticism of what will stay in my mind as an almost perfect conference, and the fact that the delegates stayed in the conference in spite of some beautiful Falmouth weather is testimony to its success in delivering for the delegates. Well done! Congratulate your team."
Arthur Barnes. Principal Consultant, Xstrata Process Support, Canada

I found Precious Metals �10 and Nickel Processing �10 to both be excellent conferences. The presentations were of very high quality and I find that these smaller conferences are more focussed and provide greater opportunity for discussion and interaction. Also the location was excellent and the technical discussions on the hikes were great! Speakers should keep their talks short to provide more time for questions/discussion. Maybe a panel discussion of relevant topics might be useful. A coffee break during the afternoon presentations as well as at the end would be good.
Prof. Chris Pickles, Queen�s University, Canada




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