MMForum:Role of a metallurgist for a better world of Mining
“Mining contributes to the generation of wealth and creation of employment
And should, therefore, be treated as an economic activity in its own right and
Not merely as an ancillary activity of manufacturing industry. Domestic
Processing industry receives supplies of mineral resources produced by the
Mining industry at market prices prevailing from time to time.”
This is the reflection of National Mineral Policy (NMP) 2008, India which also defines mining as a combination of exploration, extraction & mine closure. The most basic work of a metallurgist in mining industry starts with separation of minerals from their ores, commercial extraction of values, operation modification and control of storing and treating waste materials. So, that is where my studies are going to help the world mining work field.
Starting with the exploration, although it is the geologists, whose idea of seismic inversion, seismic attribute analysis play a great role in revelation of high value mineral targets, the modern characterization techniques like automated mineralogy (XRD,SEM) are going to be most efficient methods for identification. The database like Inorganic Crystal Structure Database (ICSD) with mineral peak records is renewed every time with new discoveries. Principles of gamma ray spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy can pose as most economic method in future mining field.
Taking example of my country India, her most valuable assets are coal, Iron, bauxite, manganese, copper, chrome etc. So, here the extraordinary intellect of a metallurgist can lead for best commercial extraction. Focusing upon iron, the developed methods for forth flotation like use of hydroxamates, fatty acid in haematite direct forth flotation, reverse cationic flotation using corn starch, NaOH and column flotation, methods of EOS sintering process, granulating with pelletizing disc with HIM, and modified gas cleaning and waste gas recycling technique using multiple regenerators and recuperators can verify their role in future.
Equivalently, underground leaching of minerals, coal extraction by means of underground gasification and hydrogenation boreholes, newer solvent extraction methods, bioleaching etc are going to be used in greater field once they successfully pass through pilot plants.
The most important factor now-a-days is to extract maximum value from a low grade ore. While, uneven distribution of ores around an area and heterogeneous distribution of mineral in an ore sample often pose difficulty in extraction, these kinds of ores can be utilised for further innovative purposes. The production of calcium alumina cement, a fast setting ceramic material is an example for above.
Waste management and effective mine closure also fall in some extent into a metallurgists criteria. The wastes and by-products often include rare earth elements, halides and in some specific cases radioactive elements. The safe removal of tiny bit of thorium can affect the country’s asset a lot and this is why the extraction techniques need to be modified constantly.
Mining is a field which needs constant verifications from every sectors starting from management, engineering, labour force, socio-economic relations, govt policies, media and R & D units. Many sensitive environment aspects are involved here which requires all time surveillance of medical officials. From the overview of all the aspects of a metallurgists in the field of mining I say, my studies in the field of metallurgy and material science engineering is able to bring a huge change & modification in the present mining scenario. The only question that arises here is shall the globe work together for a better future?