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The Precious Metals 10 conference covered a remarkable group of delegates – speakers crossed over between industry and academia, and operators talked to researchers about issues. A good crossover of practical ideas emanated from a unique and high-quality blend of people. I noted three key threads throughout the proceedings. First, there were corporate governance and socio-economic drivers for much of the work reported at the conference. Enviro-political drivers such as the replacement of cyanide, cyanide management and cyanide destruction featured heavily. Also covered were papers covering social and corporate awareness factors such as techniques for safe small-scale artisanal mining. This trend is perhaps influenced by several recent government announcements proposing clamping down on cyanide usage and installing new royalty and profits taxes into the mining industry.
Second, process modelling featured prominently. Modelling outputs were in several papers demonstrated to be consistent with experimental and observational results, and the resultant proposed circuit changes showed tangible positive impacts on the bottom line of these operations. Again, a powerful demonstration that theoretical work can result in real economic benefits to the industry.
And finally, innovation – the conference spanned several technologies that have shown commercial promise, such as pneumatic flotation, new refractory gold processes, and microwave treatment to render ores more brittle and friable. Some key questions were left to the delegates to ponder by the time the conference ended. Will soft socio-political agendas dictate hard process flowsheet selection? Are new step changes in refractory gold treatment on the horizon? Will hydrometallurgical refineries ultimately replace traditional pyrometallurgical PGM smelters?
Dr. Mike Adams, Mutis Liber Pty Ltd, Australia
... and comments from delegates:
"I think the conference which had delegates from the academic & research fields, mineral processing service providers, and the mineral processing industry was well organized, educative, and provided an avenue for professional development. The papers presented which consisted of new innovations in the mineral processing industries, modeling, environmental remediation techniques, and modification made to existing processing circuits to improve recovery were very interesting. Most of the valuable things I learned include modeling to improve CIL gold recovery such as the use of AMIRA leach and adsorption modeling, Nicol-Fleming modeling, thiosulfate leaching of gold, and heating of gold ore to enhance grindability, libration, and cyanide amenability by microwave technology. Overall, it was worth attending the conference.
"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."
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