Ninth Commonwealth Mining and Metallurgical Congress

Lawrie, W. R. ; Van Der Bosch, L. W. P. ; Rapson, W. S. ; Goode, R. C. J.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 5
Publication Date: Unavailable
W. R. Lawrie (Member): As all the Institute members present are aware, the Ninth Commonwealth Mining and Metallurgical Congress was held in Great Britain from 3rd to 24th May, 1969. The Congress opened in London and the first week was devoted to technical sessions. Several receptions and other forms of entertainment were held in the evenings. The Congress was attended by some 1 200 delegates, many of whom were accompanied by their wives. As can be imagined a large organisation was needed to cater for all the whims of these delegates, to arrange accommodation and to provide transport for the technical trips, for the receptions and for the sight-seeing tours. Papers presented at the technical sessions proved of great interest. It was stimulating to hear of the developments taking place in the various branches of mining and metallurgy. The discussions which developed between men from so many different countries were thought provoking, led to new friendships and most of us made valuable contacts for the future. There were 141 papers presented in the one week. They were given in four separate halls with two, three and sometimes four papers coming up for discussion in each of the three sessions per day in each hall. Among the more interesting subjects were those concerning off-shore drilling and the facilities for production of petroleum and natural gas. Beach mining at Consolidated Diamond Mines drew a large audience. Automation, mechanization and other technical developments were well described and we were brought up to date with modern techniques of mineral prospecting. There was general discussion on the future of the mineral industries together with comments on the consumption and price trends of these metals and minerals. The future of uranium, of vital interest to us in South Africa, came in for much debate. During the first week, besides attending the technical sessions and seeing some of the sights of London, we were royally entertained. There was a banquet, attended by some I 400 people, where we were welcomed by Princess Alexandra, a reception by H.M. Government in the Banqueting House, and we were entertained at the House of Lords on a terrace overlooking the bustling and rather muddy river Thames. Then there was the visit to the Glyndebourne Opera. It is only in London that at 3 o'clock of an afternoon, nearly 1 000 people all togged up in dress suits and long dresses and carrying packets of sandwiches for supper could arrive at a station to catch a train, and not even cause a stir of interest or a raised eyebrow! This is the way we travelled 60 miles to the opera from London. Surely there can be no more picturesque or romantic a setting for an opera than this large 400-year old red brick manor house nestling in the green valleys of the unspoilt Sussex countryside. It was a glorious evening and though we returned somewhat late and tired, not one of us would have missed this experience. After the first week in London there was a choice of tours of one week to London and the Home Counties, Cornwall, a Geological tour to Scotland, South Wales, and North England. These were followed by further one week tours to Yorkshire and Lancashire, Scotland, West Country and Midlands, a Geological tour of Wales, and a Mining and Geological tour to Jurassic Iron Mines. We then returned to London for the final session and closing banquet. Post-congress tours were arranged to Europe and to Ireland. It was a wonderful Congress, a great experience, we made many friends and may there be many more congresses! . L. W. P. van den Bosch (Member): Much has already been said in appreciation of the excellent organisation and arrangements made for the delegates who attended this Congress. This report is confined to a brief discussion of the personal impressions gained from the papers presented and the technical visits attended. The papers covered a wide variety of subjects ranging from highly theoretical observations to practical descriptions of operations. There were three main themes, VIZ: 1. The attention given to research and its forceful application to practical operation. 2. A steady development in mechanization and automation leading to savings in manpower. 3. Improvization, modernization and adaptation of exisitng facilities. Thoughts on these themes can best be illustrated by comments on some of the industries visited. COAL The National Coal Board (N.C.B.) has been most progressive and all of us have heard of the Bevercotes Colliery with its completely automatic mining and coal handling equipment. This was not, unfortunately, on show but there is no doubt that this is one of the greatest advances in coal mining leading towards continuous production. Coal in Britain is fighting for its life against oil, North Sea gas, imported gases and nuclear power. Output is dropping, the less efficient collieries are closing down and efficiencies are steadily rising as the following tabulation indicates: In 1931: 1 million men produced 300 million tons of coal In 1947: 0.7 million men produced 230 million tons of coal In 1968: 0.4 million men produced 160 million tons of coal
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