MetPlant 2017 – Handing over the baton

  • By Janine Herzig FAusIMM(CP)

A very successful MetPlant 2017 was held in Perth from 11-12 September, the eighth in the series of AusIMM Metallurgical Plant Design conferences.

David Pollard welcoming delegates.

The conference was attended by 312 delegates from 15 countries, with almost 30 per cent of participants coming from operations.  We received a record 83 abstracts from all over the world, from which 27, including 4 invited keynotes, were selected for the final program. The major themes of comminution, preconcentration, design, flotation, gold and operational and productivity improvements were covered and delegates and papers were well spread across operations, engineering, equipment and service providers and consulting/research sectors.

Offering a snapshot of World’s Best Practice in Metallurgical Plant Design and Operating Strategies continues to be the objective of the technical program.  Delegate numbers at this year’s conference have been exceeded only by 2011, at the height of the boom. The exhibition, with 43 booths, was the largest we could fit in the venue and this year’s conference marks the last one to be held at the Pan Pacific.

We thank our Principal Sponsor Outotec, who have been with us since the very beginning; our five Gold Sponsors Ausenco, FloCEP, Newmont, Russell Mineral Equipment and Weir minerals; and other sponsors who supported the conference in a variety of ways, including the coffee cart, lanyards, satchels, conference dinner, proceedings and delegate list.

The conference began with an extremely good first session on comminution, a highlight being the keynote by Dean David.

Opening session participants Dean David, Janine Herzig, Greg Lane and Grant Ballantyne with chair John Riordan.
Preconcentration session speakers Sandy Gray, Brian Povey, Mauritz Lundt and Bjorn Neilsen with chair Steve Algie.

A very pleasant evening was had by 220 conference dinner participants, bursting at the seams and enjoying the networking opportunities, food and wine.

Solvay’s Ricardo Capanema at the conference dinner.
Dinner sponsor Solvay at their booth.

The following morning, Principal Geometallurgist Kathy Ehrig delivered a very relevant keynote titled ‘Metallurgical QA/QC – Who Needs It? The Olympic Dam Experience’. Kathy’s presentation challenged everyone in the room to scrutinise and request more data from their laboratories.

Conference convenor Janine Herzig with keynote speaker Kathy Ehrig.

Joe Pease, Chair of the Coalition for Energy Efficient Comminution (CEEC), was on hand to present the 2017 CEEC Medal to Aidan Giblett (his co-author Steve Hart was unable to attend) in the Operations category for their paper titled ‘Grinding Circuit Practices at Newmont’, presented at the AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference in 2016.

Joe Pease presenting the CEEC Medal to Aidan Giblett.
‘Best Presentation and Paper’ winners: Juanjo Frausto and Grant Ballantyne with Joe Pease.

Joe and his fellow judges then had a tough decision to make in awarding the ‘Best Presentation’ prize, but all agreed that Juan Jose Frausto was a standout with his enthusiastic presentation of ‘The Impact of Classification Efficiency on Comminution and Flotation Circuit Performance’ on behalf of his fellow authors.  The prize for ‘Best Paper’ went to Grant Ballantyne and his co-authors for their ‘Recent Improvements in the Milling Circuit at Tropicana Mine’. Both Juanjo and Grant were given a copy of the Landmark Papers Spectrum, We are Metallurgists, not Magicians which was launched on the first morning of the conference.

The program also featured two engaging interactive panel sessions, ably facilitated by Grant Ballantyne on Day 1 and Rob Coleman on Day 2 and featuring keynote speakers and other esteemed delegates.

Final panel participants: Rob Dunne, Duncan Bennett, Peter Munro, Rob Coleman and Chris Greet.


On Sunday 10 September, two very informative pre-conference interactive workshops were held, firstly ‘Gold Recovery without the use of Cyanide’, chaired by Rob Dunne and ably assisted by Steve La Brooy, Jacques Eksteen and Paul Breuer. Then after lunch David Brett chaired ‘De-watering and Dry Stacking of Tailings’, taking us through practical examples on dry stacking, limitations, filtration, design considerations and case studies.

Janine Herzig welcoming Workshop 1 participants.
Workshop 2 is underway.
A packed room for Workshop 3 on lithium.

And Rob Dunne then continued along the ‘water’ theme by delivering the 2017 G D Delprat Distinguished Lecture that evening, titled ‘Water in Mining – Facts, Perceptions and Conflicts’ to a crowd of 130.

The final workshop, held on Wednesday 13 September, was a short course expertly run by Nick Welham on lithium processing.


Thanks to the events team at the AusIMM who do an amazing job in supporting and assisting to execute these conferences and make it all appear effortless. I can assure you it is not!

And a huge thanks to our expert official conference photographer Chris Sykes who managed to capture so many memorable moments over the four days, diligently manning his tripod at the side and back of the rooms, whilst assisting the convenors and events staff with numerous other tasks.  Consider yourself signed up for 2019 Chris!

And last, but not least, I would like to thank and acknowledge the instigator of the MetPlant conference series David Pollard, who along with Geoff Dunlop had a strong vision for a conference that offers something different from other met-themed events and which has stood the test of time. It is my pleasure to continue the tradition and endeavor to meet the high standard that has been established and preserved. The resilience and strength demonstrated by David and his wife Judith over the past few challenging years has been a real inspiration.

Janine Herzig with David and Judith Pollard.

The next AusIMM metallurgical conference will be the 40th Anniversary of Mill Operators’ in Brisbane, 29th to 31st October 2018.

And MetPlant will return in 2019, bigger and better, at a venue and dates to be announced soon.


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