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MEI Online: MEI Conferences: Pyrometallurgy 07: Conference Report

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Pyrometallurgy 07
Falmouth, UK, May 3-4 2007

This was the 3rd MEI conference on pyrometallurgy, and the first to be held outside South Africa. It was a small, but international, event attended by 19 distinguished delegates from 8 countries.

The keynote lecture 'Pyrometallurgy for profitable ore treatment' was given by Philip Gray, formerly with Rio Tinto Corporation in the UK, and for many years an independent consultant in process engineering technology. He is also a past president of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, and on his retirement in 1995 has been involved with the design and promotion of zinc smelting technology with Zinc Metallurgy Ltd.

Philip spoke of the several natural advantages that pyrometallurgy has in the processing of ores:

  • At high temperatures, reactions are much faster than they are in slurries or in aqueous solutions. This equates to lower capital costs.
  • Mineral characteristics are lost in melts, making the reactions controllable by known universal thermodynamic and kinetic laws. Bench-top planning and verification is possible.
  • Separation by differential melt solubility or volatilisation permit recoveries that are impossible by mineral processing.
  • In sulphide systems the energy release of oxidation to SO2 can be utilised instead of carbon emission. SO2 is easier to dispose of safely than CO2 .
  • Realisation of the values in ores by high temperature routes are well above those experienced in mineral separation/leach routes.
  • A disadvantage of pyrometallurgical process routes is that they cannot be developed to commercial operation in small scale. This makes engineering development costs expensive and lengthy.

Philip�s keynote was followed by 14 papers on diverse aspects of pyrometallurgy, presented by scientists from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, South Africa, UK and Ukraine.

Cornwall is blessed with some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world, and delegates had the opportunity to relax after the first day�s sessions, with a guided 3 mile walk between Falmouth�s major beaches.

delegates on the beach in Falmouth

B.A. Wills, MEI, UK



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