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MEI Online: MEI Conferences: Physical Separation '17: Introduction

Home General Introduction Conference Report Conference Programme Published Papers Delegate List Photos Contacts Physical Separation '19  


Physical Separation '17 was organised by Minerals Engineering International (MEI) and was sponsored by Holman-Wilfley, Steinert Elektromagnetbau, CRC ORE, Gekko, TOMRA Sorting Solutions & SLon. Media sponsors are International Mining & Industrial Minerals.

Although there is much current emphasis on the chemical methods of mineral separation – flotation, hydrometallurgy, and bioleaching, the physical separation methods are ubiquitous, and there is no mining operation in the world which does not make use of the density differences between solids and liquids.

Whether it be gravity concentration, classification or dewatering, the principles of separation are essentially the same and this, the 4th Physical Separation conference, brought together researchers and operators who have common interests in:

  • Gravity concentration methods - single and multi-G separators and dense medium separation
  • Classification techniques - hydrocyclones, air classifiers etc.
  • Solid-Liquid Separation - thickeners, clarifiers etc.
  • Papers dealing with magnetic separation, and electronic sorting, often utilised in conjunction with gravity concentration, are also welcome.
  • Microwave technology. There are many aspects of mineral processing where the use of microwaves has potential and papers dealing with the enhancement of physical processes by microwaves are encouraged.

delegates on the mine tour
Delegates on a mine tour


Cornwall, the “birthplace of modern mining”, was an appropriate place to hold such an event, as this was the first place in the world where physical separation methods were practiced on a large scale, and the programme included a visit to the historic Camborne-Redruth copper and tin mining district, where ruins of 19th century ‘dressing floors’ can be explored.



The first keynote lecture "Physical separation techniques continue to grow in importance – the key to optimum separation is preparation" was given by Sandy-Lewis Gray, of Gekko Systems, Australia.

Sandy Gray is co-founder and Technical Director of Gekko Systems, and is responsible for the Technical, Sales, and Research and Development teams. He has a background in mine management and over 15 years experience in mineral processing operations. Sandy has rejuvenated the art of gravity separation of alluvial gold using the basis of panning. Sandy is a world leader in gravity gold and leaching flowsheets design, materials handling and effective plant design.

Sandy invented Gekko’s patented systems including the InLine Pressure Jig, InLine Leach Reactor and the Python Processing Plant. His inventions are breakthroughs in the field of mineral processing with over 450 installations at mines in 43 different countries.

Sandy is a recipient of the prestigious Clunies Ross Award, Australia’s pre-eminent award for scientists, technologists and innovators. Other awards he has received include the AusIMM Mineral Operating Technique Award, the Ernst &Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Technology, Communications, E-commerce & Life Sciences - Southern Region), the Premier’s Design Award in 2010 and most recently, Sandy received the Professional Excellence Award 2017 The AusIMM,

Sandy is currently completing research and development into thiosulphate, coal and other environmental processing opportunities to further advance Gekko’s capabilities.

Sandy Lewis-Gray


The second keynote lecture "The Dense Medium Cyclone – Past, Present and Future" was given by Tim Napier-Munn, former Director of JKMRC, Australia.

Prof. Tim Napier-Munn is a mineral engineer with degrees from Imperial College, London and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He has had a 45 year career in mineral industry research and development in the public and private sectors in three countries, holding senior positions with De Beers in South Africa, and with the JKMRC and JKTech Pty Ltd at the University of Queensland. He is now Emeritus Professor at UQ and works with graduate students at the JKMRC and consults through JKTech.

His research and consulting interests are in the modelling and simulation of mineral processes, physical processing such as dense medium separation and hydrocyclones, comminution, diamond processing, statistical methods applied to mineral processing, technology transfer and research management.

Tim has published over 150 papers and articles, and was editor of the JKMRC ‘Blue Book’ on comminution (1996) and the 7th Edition of Wills’ Mineral Processing Technology (2006). He has delivered professional development courses on Statistics for Mineral Engineers around the world for over 20 years, and has recently published a book on the subject. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Minerals Engineering journal, founding board member of CEEC International, and a Fellow of the AusIMM.

Tim is a recipient of the IOM3 Futer Medal (2009), the AusIMM President’s Award (2011), and the AusIMM Sir Willis Connolly Memorial Medal (2015). He was the AusIMM Delprat Distinguished lecturer in 2016.

Tim Napier-Munn



"I have attended a number of MEI conferences in the past. This [Physical Separation '13] was one of the best. Very high quality presentations with good discussion. The chairpersons were particularly good at promoting discussion."
Chris Pickles, Robert M Buchan Department of Mining,Queen’s University, Canada

Read the conference reports from past Physical Separation conferences, and check out the technical programmes and delegate lists too:

"Physical Separation 09 was my first professional international conference which was held in a very unique friendly atmosphere. In amazing sessions, I got a great amount of important insights and useful information. I impatiently look forward to take part in another MEI conference next year."
Golnaz Jozanikohan, University of Tehran, Iran

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