Programme modules

MODULE 1: Modern mineral processing value chain

This module covers a wide area of the recovery of minerals, the whole chain from mineralogy to raw material for smelters. Students will learn major aspects of mineral processing such as mineral characterization, geometallurgy, mineral separation process, modelling and simulation, automation and quality of marketable concentrates.

The fundamentals are presented with a critical and applied look, considering technical and economic aspects that are complemented with practical experiences in specific laboratories for each unit operation and in an automatized pilot plant, also visit industrial plants will be considered. Modelling and simulation using software programs for mineral processing give the possibility to integrate mineralogical/modal data to plant optimization. For mineral characterisation, OMS has applied knowledge in this field, and has laboratories of optical microscopy, geochemical, geotechnical and MAKE the Centre for Material Analysis to apply different characterization techniques to identify surface mineral properties, mineral liberation, microstructure, nature, and textures by means of the latest available equipment such as FESEM, EPMA, XRD and XRF.

MODULE 2: Industrial Minerals Processing and Bulk Solids Technology

The second module focuses on industrial minerals and building materials. These comprise minerals that do not serve as sources of metals although they may contain these elements but are used for the properties of these minerals. Some prominent examples are calcite, magnesite and talc. The lecture is complemented by a hands-on course in the well-equipped laboratory that deals with selected topics from this range of minerals.

This module also contains several supplementary topics, such as sampling and homogenisation as a means for proper planning of test campaigns and providing a consistent feed to the plant, respectively. Another core element within the processing plant taught here is bulk solids technology. Obligatory lectures also deal with sustainability with raw materials and with mineral economics.

An important subject in this module is the project study, where the students actively work on a concrete challenge within mineral processing. This requires literature study, application of prior knowledge in the subject, own lab work and composition of a proper and concise report.

MODULE 3A: Sustainable Mineral Processing Plant Design and Engineering

Advanced and Sustainable Mineral Concentration. This module will cover innovative approaches to mineral and metal processing. In terms of particle size reduction (i.e., comminution), energy curves will be addressed, so those energy requirements will be specifically determined for the different stages of comminution. In terms of valuable particle separation, concepts such as incremental and step-change innovation will also be addressed. Fine particle flotation separation and trace valuable separation must be dealt with since ore mineralogy is more complex and much harder to process. Consequently, courses such as process mineralogy, physical separation, and flotation innovations are mandatory to include in postgraduate degree training. Environmental aspects must also be considered since mineral and metal process engineering has very large water and energy footprints. In practical terms, postgraduate courses to be taught are energy-efficient comminution, water-efficient mineral processing, sustainable mineral processing plant design, digitalization and smart system in mineral processing, and sustainable mineral processing engineering.

MODULE 3B: Circular Economy and Recycling

This module covers the transition from the traditional linear (take-make-dispose) to the new concept of a sustainable circular economy (take-recycle). Students will learn about sustainable mineral/waste resource management through maximising yield and utilising secondary raw materials by reuse, recycling and reprocessing minerals/waste.

The knowledge acquired through the first two modules will be upgraded by management and application of technological processes and procedures in the circular economy, solid waste recycling, tailings management and reprocessing, soil remediation, naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) residues processing and disposal. Theoretically acquired knowledge will be supplemented by laboratory exercises (Mineral Processing and Environmental Protection Laboratory, Geomechanical Laboratory, Laboratory for the analysis of geological materials – LaGEMA) and by visiting industrial plants.

MODULE 4: Thesis

30 ECTS MSc thesis supervised by one partner university and executed at cooperating companies.

The 4th semester of the programme is intended to be mostly ‘hands on’, enabling the trainees to have closer contact with the practical aspects of sustainable mineral processing issues and collaborating with associate partners (industry, research centres or suppliers) for the final Master Thesis development. The collaboration and support of 33 Associated Partners including 26 mining companies, 2 research centres, 2 mining suppliers and 3 universities ensure the practical work for thesis development.