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MEI Online: MEI Conferences: Zinc Processing 08: Introduction

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This, the 1st International Symposium on the Processing of Zinc Ores and Concentrates (Zinc Processing 08), was organised by Minerals Engineering International and was sponsored by GRD Minproc, media sponsors were the Gold & Minerals Gazette.

Primary zinc production is complicated by the fact that sphalerite is usually associated with economic amounts of lead and copper minerals, and is often contained in a gangue high in pyrite. The complex intergrowths often mean that very fine grinding is required, followed by selective flotation.

Some of the most important developments which have taken place in minerals engineering in recent years have involved the treatment of these ores and in the subsequent extraction of zinc from concentrates.

The keynote lecture "Towards Zinc Metal at McArthur River" was given by Noel Warner, Emeritus Professor, University of Birmingham, UK.

He presented a conceptual design for producing 300,000 tpa of zinc directly from McArthur River bulk concentrates, taking into account the availability of natural gas and the associated increasing importance of Darwin as a hub for natural gas from the Timor Sea. The Albion Process for producing zinc at the mine site has been reported as unsuitable because of the costs involved in electricity generation and Prof. Warner argues that this applies to all hydrometallurgical processes employing electrowinning. What is needed is a radical rethink of pyrometallurgical treatment. Emphasis will be given to what has become known as the �Warner Process�, modified to yield considerable savings in energy requirements by removing the need for an ASU and massively increasing the intensity throughout.

This was the first MEI Conference focusing specifically on zinc processing, and preceded the annual Automated Mineralogy conference.


Papers were invited on all aspects of the processing of zinc ores and concentrates, including:

  • Production of zinc concentrates and the associated problems encountered in comminution and flotation due to the complex mineralogy of Pb-Zn, Cu-Zn and Cu-Pb-Zn deposits.
  • Treatment of zinc concentrates by hydrometallurgical, biohydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical routes.
  • Environmental issues associated with the treatment of the ores and concentrates.
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