There is a growing need to bridge the gap between theory and practice in the minerals processing sector, with metallurgical engineering graduates quickly realising their lack of practical experience once they enter the workforce.
By attending the free online training workshops offered by metallurgy and process engineering specialist Multotec, metallurgical engineers can quickly obtain practical knowledge that can take up to ten years to accumulate, says Multotec process engineering training facilitator Brent Combrink.
“Although metallurgical engineers have graduated from university, once they get to a plant, they realise that there are many practical aspects that they are unaware of. Multotec’s workshops can provide attendees with an advantage over other engineers in the minerals processing field.”
While Multotec offers product-specific training, such as dense-medium separation cyclones and slurry pumps, it also offers commodity- and process-specific training, which includes milling optimisation, fines treatment and dense-media circuits, through workshops based on demand for training topics.
When identifying topics for these training sessions, the company endeavours to be as relevant as possible, basing the content on the subjects that are trending in a specific year.
For example, this year Multotec’s training content is focused on top-performing commodities, such as iron-ore, copper and battery minerals, for which demand is driven by global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Multotec initially hosted physical training sessions at its Kempton Park office, in Gauteng, where participants had the advantage of seeing how its products are manufactured.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic warranted the introduction of online alternatives, which have enabled the company to access a global audience that can, consequently, more easily connect with product or process specialists. This connection with product specialists is what Multotec says sets the company apart, with live interaction and engagement taking place with the audience.
“I don’t think anything beats face-to-face training, but it is evident that, in future, training will comprise a hybrid approach. People have become accustomed to using virtual meeting platforms, such as Teams, which enables them to save on travelling costs.”
Attendance of Multotec’s workshops has increased through the company’s collaboration with other industry stakeholders to provide participants with a holistic overview of minerals processing regarding specific commodities, adding value to its workshops.
Sought-after presenters, including Multotec representatives and other industry experts, work with various industry bodies, such as the Southern African Coal Preparation Society and the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, highlights Combrink.
“We involve these experts for the benefit of our customers, as it gives them the opportunity to learn from specialists in fields beyond Multotec’s scope such as crushing.”
Solely focusing on Multotec’s products would provide participants with only a partial view of the overall picture; including industry experts from outside the company allows for a comprehensive perspective that comprises all aspects of the minerals processing operation.
For example, Multotec plans to focus on ion-exchange in an upcoming workshop. This specialised field is not commonly covered in training sessions, says Combrink, adding that all the company’s webinars are uploaded to its website so that they can be viewed on demand, for anyone wanting to learn from them.
Multotec’s audience – previously physically limited to 110 people in its auditorium – has on average increased to 1000 global registrations per session, which include university students, plant metallurgists and senior specialists.
“It is important that students also get this kind of exposure. Therefore, we try to present our training sessions in a way that will ensure that everyone benefits, no matter their experience level. With the audience being so diverse, you need to be able to keep everyone’s attention,” explains Combrink.
The competency of Multotec’s presenters has captured the attention of mines throughout Africa, leading to invitations for plant-specific training sessions which are held with full site teams at the mining operation’s plant.
In addition, by offering its online workshops free of charge, Multotec carries the cost involved in presenting its training sessions, ensuring that anyone, regardless of their circumstances, can expand their knowledge.
Multotec’s global customers are invited personally to the workshops, while the industry, in general, interacts with the event registration links on the company’s social media pages. Combrink notes that word-of-mouth has also played a role in increasing participation.
During the past 18 months alone, in excess of 1 500 people from more than 30 countries, representing over 120 companies, have received training through these online workshops.
This global thrust has prompted Multotec to select a digital event platform that allows for real-time transcriptions of the presentation to be translated into multiple languages, including French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and German.