March/April 2012

Fresh perspective

CMP meeting provides operators chance to learn and grow

By H.B. George

Donald Leroux, 2012 CMP chairman 

The 44th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Mineral Processors (CMP) Society, held January 17-19 at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa, started the new year off with promise of continued growth for members of the CMP. Both the range of topics covered and the number of attendees were dramatically higher than in past years.

“Canadian mining is booming because of increasing demand for commodities from China and other emerging countries, so mineral processing operations are expanding and diversifying,” explains Donald Leroux, 2012 CMP chairman, who opened the meeting in front of a record-breaking 560 attendees.

Keynote speaker Jan Nesset, who is a consultant in mineral processing with Nessetech and a key contributor to MetSoc’s 50th Anniversary volume, The Canadian Metallurgical & Materials Landscape 1960 – 2011, agreed with Leroux, referring to the past 50 years as the “golden age in Canadian mineral processing.” Nesset’s speech highlighted Canadian technical advances, such as the Knelson gravity concentrator and McGill gas dispersion sensors in flotation.

According to Leroux, the industry’s growth means the need for members to meet and exchange ideas is more pressing than ever. With increased demand for skilled labour, Canadian mining delving into new frontiers, such as rare earths, and acceleration in technological advances, it is imperative for operators to connect with suppliers, academics, consultants, other industry professionals and students to share ideas, discuss best practices and network.

“Coming to the meeting allows members to gain new ideas, catch up with ex-colleagues, exchange knowledge and develop professionally. There are always many things to learn. For instance, this year our technical program included presentations on rare earth elements and lithium, which are areas that were seldom discussed before,” says Leroux.

The technical program, which covered 37 papers, addressed a broad range of subjects, including innovative operating practices, plant optimization projects and potential solutions to challenging comminution, flotation and mineral processing circuits.

A short course program was also offered, covering three themes: flotation fundamentals, metal accounting and statistical benchmark surveying. It was the first time the short course program covered more than one topic – a change that caused attendance to rise by 140 per cent, up to 90 people.

This year’s enhanced curriculum gave attendees the opportunity to develop professionally and to explore the technological options available, according to Leroux. “The meeting is instrumental in promoting the implementation of advanced technology in operating plants,” says Leroux. “Members need the opportunity to get out of the daily grind to discover what is out there and how it can further improve their operations,” he underlines.

As part of the effort to attract young people to the industry, CMP invited students from all Canadian universities and colleges that offer courses on mineral processing, and covered the students’ expenses. Leroux urged guests to “welcome them into our community.”

According to Leroux, the highlight of the meeting was a speech delivered by Brett Knelson at the Awards Banquet, as he announced the creation of the Byron Knelson Memorial Scholarship in honour of his father. The scholarship, intended for Canadian university students in mineral processing, was created to commemorate the inventor of the Knelson concentrator.

Eight awards were given out at the Awards Banquet, including Mineral Processor of the Year, which went to John Folinsbee for his outstanding and sustained technical contributions to the field of mineral processing, and the Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Dr. Lucky Amaratunga, for his exceptional contributions to the field of mine waste management and utilization.

The meeting also featured fun activities to give delegates an opportunity to relax and network with colleagues in a festive atmosphere. CMP’s Got Talent, a friendly talent competition held on the evening of January 17, drew 150 guests. Guitarists of all levels performed classics like “American Pie.” A rendition of “Mill of Fire,” a spoof of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” became an instant hit. At the 12th Annual CMP Kilborn Cup hockey game, East and West fought it out for the coveted trophy, with the West beating the East 6-4.

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