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By: M. Pearse, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, PO Box 38, Bradford BD12 0JZ, UK.
Almost 50 delegates attended the Reagents '04 Conference, representing 22 countries and all continents. Delegates were a well-balanced mix from university research, the minerals industry, reagent manufacturing and consulting metallurgy. Twenty-one technical papers were presented and five poster displays were introduced over the three-day conference, many by leading experts in their field. The conference was sponsored by Akzo Nobel and Cytec, both who had display booths showing their products for the minerals industry.
The proceedings were opened by Barry Wills, who described the location of the conference from a historical viewpoint, emphasising its unique characteristics. The technical sessions started with a review of reagents used in the mineral processing and hydrometallurgical industries. The papers were predominantly on froth flotation, reflecting large reagent usage in the industry, a technique that is now one hundred years old. Papers on collectors, frothers and depressants were presented. Other areas of application of reagents described included solvent extraction, solid-liquid separation, heavy metal removal, reagent testing and novel analytical techniques. A good balance was struck between presentations on base metals, ferrous metals and non-metallic industrial minerals.
An important part of the conference was the social programme. On the first night, the formal Gala Dinner was preceded by a brisk cliff walk showing some of Falmouth's coastal scenery. On the second night a tour of the historic Basset Mines was arranged. An introductory slide show explained the geological history of Cornwall. The Basset Mines form part of a heritage trail, centred on the Great Flat Lode area of Camborne-Redruth, one of the most mined areas of the World, mainly for copper and tin. The site represents a birthplace for modern mineral processing and historic examples of comminution and gravity separation can be viewed. The tour finished with a buffet supper.
As is common for Minerals Engineering International Conferences, a good balance between informative technical sessions, a great social programme and ample time to meet and see new and old friends and colleagues was evident.
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