This international symposium on the processing of zinc ores and concentrates is organised by MEI. 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 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 will be given by Noel Warner, Emeritus Professor, University of Birmingham, UK. He will present a conceptual design for producing 300,000 t/y of zinc directly from McArthur River bulk concentrates, taking into account the availability of natural gas. The Albion process for producing zinc at the mine site has been reported as unsuitable because of the costs involved in electricity generation and Warner argues that this applies to all hydrometallurgical processes employing EW. 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 is the first MEI Conference focusing specifically on zinc processing, and precedes the annual Automated Mineralogy conference, which will be relevant to many of the attendees. Papers from the conference will be published in a special issue of Minerals Engineering. Full details of this and all upcoming MEI Conferences can be found at www.min-eng.com/conferences.