CMP 2017 chair Scott Martin at the awards gala. Al Kuiper

More than 500 attendees from 12 different countries gathered in Ottawa for the 49th annual Canadian Mineral Processors (CMP) Conference in January to discuss innovative technologies and methodologies, as well as ways to optimize plant performance.

Dominic Fragomeni, vice-president of XPS Consulting & Testwork Services, delivered the plenary session on innovation in the mineral processing industry. He celebrated past breakthroughs in different areas of the sector like high-pressure grinding rolls for comminution and Woodgrove Technologies’ Staged Flotation Reactor for flotation. According to Fragomeni, these innovations came to fruition because of a clear business need, leadership from companies, collaboration between multiple stakeholders – vendors, operators, universities and research groups – and a multidisciplinary approach.

Fragomeni also pointed to the many different research initiatives in mining as a model for furthering R&D in the industry, in particular Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. “They have a model where there is less of a focus on intellectual property and more of a focus on solving problems that are significant to the industry,” he said. Going forward, he said he sees three areas of opportunity for the mineral processing sector: the internet of things and big data; pre-concentration; and process mineralogy and geometallurgy.

Throughout the conference, operators and vendors presented on some of the cutting-edge projects they are undertaking. Simon Hille, vice-president of metallurgy and process at Goldcorp, gave a project update on the company’s pyrite leach project at its Peñasquito mine aimed to recover gold and silver from zinc tailings. “It’s a trend-setting project that’s actually being built,” CMP 2017 chair Scott Martin told CIM Magazine.

The student program, which has always been strong at CMP, added a mentorship program this year. “We paired [students] with industry people who were like their guides throughout the conference,” explained Martin. The idea was to encourage more student networking and participation in the conference events.

Next year’s conference – the 50th anniversary under the theme of “Past, Present and Future” – will take place Jan. 23-25, 2018, in Ottawa.