Introduction to Mineral Production
Recently, I have had the chance to attend a short course in Mineral Processing, held in Berlin and hosted by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology office. The course addressed not only specialists but also the general public. As a participant, I have had the chance to meet with professionals in mineral processing and to discuss with them matters -and challenges no less-which modern mining faces. Even though the course duration was only two days, the schedule was full and lots of different aspects were communicated.
The course took place at Europa Center, in the heart of Berlin, just a few paces away from Zoo Berlin. Needless to say, the view from the tenth floor was admittedly breath-taking.
To begin with, the first day included an introduction and the current situation concerning mining in Europe, geology and exploration and, finally, the transition from exploration to the development of a mining project, so as to refer then more specifically to mineral processing.
Truth to be told, the second day started more spectacularly: we ran the crushing simulator in a real processing plant in Sweden. And how was this achieved? We were connected live and we could change the parameters of the process in order to produce a final product according to the requirements which each exercise had determined beforehand. I have to admit that this part was the most fascinating for me, as it was on the one hand the first time that I have had such a hands-on experience and on the other hand, I could take part in the process actively and based on the effect the different parameters had on the product, I could make suitable adjustments to reach the goal, which was the right particle size of the final product. The guidance through the process was excellent. In fact, we were running actual series of experiments to achieve a certain particle size. I feel that all participants have benefited from it. Moreover, the second day included presentations and discussion around the environmental and social impacts of mining, most probably the ‘hot potato’ of mining nowadays, as the generation to which I belong and the generations prior to mine have no personal experience of mining industry in Europe. Thus, the moot point of a social licence to operate a mining site is becoming more and more essential. People are concerned about land uses, water and pollution in general and this is why these topics were thoroughly discussed over the course. Recycling, of course, would not be left out of the discussion. However, recycling cannot, unfortunately, meet the demands of our society since much of the material is being retained or is irretrievably lost throughout its life cycle. Consequently, mining remains the primary source of raw materials.
To sum up, I found the course very useful, especially with regard to the technical information of which I have had neither previous nor any in depth knowledge. I am inclined to believe that similar seminars should be encouraged, targeting schools in particular, as education is a key factor to update the society’s view of mining, aiming at bridging the gap between mining and society, by providing access to the facts and information from reliable sources.
Lastly, I would like to thank the organisers for the course!