MIRO Forum – A minerals industry with a future

Congress and specialist exhibition for the gravel/sand and stone industry, Dresden/Germany (27.-29.10.2010)

Dipl.-Kfm. Franz-Bernd Köster, member of the managerial committee of the Federal Mineral Resources Association (MIRO), of Cologne, had the pleasure of welcoming more than 400 participants to the 4th MIRO Forum (Fig. 1). Following three MIRO events in Würzburg, the association for the first time organized this year‘s industry congress from 27.-29.10.2010 at the new International Congress Center Dresden. 66 exhibitors also took the opportunity of showcasing their products, capabilities and services in the context of the accompanying technical exhibition.

 

The specialist agenda was preceded by an informative get-together and the internal general meeting of the members of the MIRO federal association and the MIRO research ­foundation. In his speech of welcome, Franz-Bernd Köster (Fig. 2) highlighted the exceptional importance of this event, which he referred to as the “platform of the year for the minerals industry”. The association is faced with important tasks, including the “Assurance of mineral resources supplies”, and particularly supplies of domestic minerals. This topic is also destined to enjoy high ranking in European policy (EU 2020 Strategy). The association has drafted and submitted to the federal government a core requirements paper, in order to attain improved boundary conditions for non-energy-related mineral resources. The Natura 2000 guideline also requires augmentation and modification, including the designation of conservation areas on not only ecological, but also economic and social criteria. Greater use must, finally, also be made of municipal ecological resources. The national economy will continue in the future to require high-quality mass building materials, a task which will, necessarily, involve the association and its member companies. Industrial health and safety is a further important focus of the association, and certificates were presented to the winners of the MIRO Health & Safety Competition during the conference.

 

Another highlight of the Forum was the celebratory speech given by Hans-Ulrich Jörges (Fig. 3), deputy editor-in-chief and head of Stern magazine‘s Berlin office. Under the motto of “Crisis of confidence – the loss of our role models”, he analyzed astutely Germany‘s current economic and political situation, pillorying politics and politicians who have forfeited the electorate‘s confidence and ceased to be role models for the public (Fig. 3). Some 76 % of German companies, the majority medium-sized and family enterprises, can, on the other hand, claim to enjoy the confidence of their employees. “This – along with the family (where it is functional!) – is what keeps Germany together. And this is something of which industry – and MIRO and its members, in particular - can be extremely proud!”, he concluded.

 

Specialist papers categorized into four sections, with eight workshops running in some cases in parallel, illustrated during the two days of the conference the diverse and many-facetted spectrum of subjects under examination in the field of mineral resources:

 

• Assurance of mineral resources supplies/environmental protection, including the topics of

• Industrial and economic policy, approval law

• Mining and preparation technology

• Resources marketing/operational company management

 

A review of all the individual and highly interesting papers would exceed the scope of our report here, instead, we examine below a selected few in more detail.

 

Dirk Fincke, of UEPG European Aggregates Association, Brussels, discussed the main emphases of the “Continuation of the EU mineral resources initiative”. In November, 2008, this European minerals industry association started a campaign for the drafting of a minerals resources strategy aimed at achieving discrimination-free access to the resources of the world market, sustainable supply of mineral resources from domestic sources, and reduction of the consumption of primary resources within the EU. An analysis of the present status quo was augmented with an examination of UEPG‘s future tasks. “The new mineral resources agency and its functions” was the focus of the address by Dr. Volker Steinbach, of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Nat-ural Resources, GEOZENTRUM, Hanover. This agency sees itself as an information center for both domestic and foreign mineral and raw materials, and as a service partner for German industry, and provides specialist support in the utilization of federal mineral-resources promotion programs.

 

The papers on “The Natura 2000 guidelines – background and implications” (Dr. Anita Breyer, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Bonn) and “Mining of mineral resources – threat or boon to biological diversity” (Dr. med. Andreas Stähle, NABU Group Bergstrasse, Heppenheim) focused on the reconcilability of minerals mining and the conservation of nature. A plea for rational protection of nature in the use of recycled building materials was uttered by Dr. Jörg Demmich, Knauf Gips KG, Iphofen, in his address on “The substitute building materials ordinance – a never-ending story”. The complicated interaction of the groundwater ordinance, substitute building materials ordinance and soil protection ordinance, and the new negligibility threshold limit concept, which must all be observed in the use of substitute and recycled building materials, results in requirements which are both utopian and impracticable. To ensure that the high recycling rate of > 80 % for mineral resources can be maintained in Germany, the clause in the CDU/CSU/FDP coalition agreement requiring implementation of EU directives without detriment to competition (1:1) should also be enforced in this sector, in order to avoid disadvantaging companies located in Germany.

 

Analogous conclusions were drawn by Holger Alwast, of Prognos AG, Berlin, from the results of a study into “Adherence to the negligibility-threshold concept in law-making, and its implications for the construction industry”. This paper demonstrated, on the basis of model scenarios, that the planned implementation concept makes the recycling routes selected more difficult or even impossible, encumbers enterprises with significant extra costs, and will ultimately result in a mass return to landfill dumping. Despite the availability of numerous sophisticated, tried and proven technologies, there is, as the following addresses illustrated, still no lack of innovation in the field of mining and preparation of mineral resources. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hossein Tudeshki, of the Technical University of Clausthal, for example, reported on the “Acoustic geo-scanner”, a new system for the assessment of deposits and for quality management, which can also be utilized for the purpose of deposit exploration. Bernd Köllreutter, of Heinrich Krieger KG, Neckarsteinach, spoke on an “Efficient (method for) removal of wood” via the use of a upward air flow instead of the customary water flow.

 

Horst Beyer, of BEYER GmbH, Viernheim, presented the recently developed P 240 scoop-grab excavator, a floating excavator in which trolley movement is eliminated and conveyance of the material from the feed point to the hopper is performed by means of a rotatable and generously dimensioned scoop, as a cost-efficient alternative to the conventional trolley-type grab excavator. The improvement of grading of difficult-to-screen materials by means of two-stage preliminary screening, with a variable screening-gap width in the second stage (Nobert Homann, HAZEMAG & EPR GmbH, Dülmen: “Preliminary screening must match the demands”) was discussed, as were the elimination of problems occurring in practice in belt cleaning (Adam Puchalla, REMA TIP TOP GmbH, Poing: “Effective belt-cleaning systems – squaring the circle?”) and the development of an air conveyor, in which air-cushions below the belt achieve material conveyance, replacing support rollers (Robert Brand, Airconveyers International, Drachten, NL: “The air conveyer: an alternative”). In the field of mineral resources marketing and operational company management, it was noted that the current image is situated somewhere between that desired and reality, with data-acquisition questions at the center of attention.

 

Prof. Dr. Hahn, principal director of the MIRO federal association, considered the 4th MIRO Forum a resounding success. The number of exhibitors attending had risen by 25 % compared to the previous year (Fig. 4), that of the participants by 10 %. There was intensive discussion in all eight workshops, on a large range of interesting contemporary subjects. The assurance of mineral resources supplies and environmental protection are topics which concern the association, there being a need to focus more precisely on domestic mineral resources, with efficient use of resources playing an important role. Although no world breakthroughs were to be expected in the innovating technologies, and were consequently not on show here, numerous inventive new ideas and practical aids were nonetheless noted. There remains a need to improve the association‘s image and achieve greater levels of public attention. And, despite the necessity of using electronic data-processing ever more intensively in the industry, person-to-person contacts remain vital. The emphasis must be on communication, in order to permit the joint solution of problems. This, therefore, is the focus for the continuation of the event: the 5th MIRO Forum is to be held, again at the International Congress Center Dresden, from 07.-09.11.2012.Hf

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