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JOM, Vol. 71, No.

2, 2019
Ó 2019 The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society

The World Needs Metallurgical

Process Engineers
Peter C. Hayes

The Changing World

On the face of it, the metallurgical development of new advanced materials
industry looks stronger than at any time in and manufacturing technologies, creating
its development. Primary metal production opportunities for new industries in a
is at record levels, and continues to expand diverse range of engineering applications.
LQUHVSRQVHWRVLJQL¿FDQWSRSXODWLRQ The advent of computerization and new
and consumption growth. The rapid technologies for energy generation and
technological changes that are currently storage are already stimulating the need for
underway are creating new markets for new process technologies to produce a wide
metals. range of metallic elements—elements that,
The industry response to this demand even in the recent past, have been regarded
will be increased investment in exploration as being of no more than intellectual or
and the discovery of new primary sources academic interest.
Peter Hayes
in the form of ore bodies. However, we Although small in volume, these are
FDQH[SHFWWKDWDVWKHVH¿QLWHVRXUFHV high value products, critical for the
are consumed, there will be further sustainability of our technologically Editor’s Note: This article
is based on the keynote
declines in mean ore grades. Without advanced societies. Examples of these
lecture, “The Changing World
major technological innovations this trend metals include, in photovoltaics—indium,
of Metallurgical Education,
means that, to maintain the same levels of gallium, germanium, silicon, silver; in delivered by Peter Hayes
production, there will be increased energy electric vehicles and batteries—cobalt, at a joint session of the 7th
usage, and with it increased costs and copper, lithium, rare earth elements, International Symposium on
the potential for greater environmental vanadium; in fuel cells—gold, palladium, Advances in Sulfide Smelting
impacts. The problems will be most acute platinum, ruthenium; thermo- and opto- and the Peter Hayes Symposium
for nonferrous metals and those metals that electrics—bismuth, antimony, arsenic, on Pyrometallurgical Processing
are present in low concentrations in ores. gallium, selenium, tellurium. These metals at Extraction 2018 held in
The use and treatment of polymetallic are needed in the form of pure metals, August 2018. Comments were
ores will increase. Raw materials will compounds, and solutions to tight chemical provided by the following
discussion panel: Bart Blanpain
be of greater complexity in terms of DQGSK\VLFDOVSHFL¿FDWLRQVIRUHDFKRIWKHVH
(Leuven University); Kenneth
both microstructure and composition different manufacturing applications.
Coley (McMaster University);
over those that have been used in recent In Europe, issues such as materials Mario Loebbus (Aurubis); Sari
times. These factors will create a need scarcity and concerns over the supply of Muinonen (Glencore); and
for further technological development critical metals have prompted strategic Maurits van Camp (Umicore).
and metallurgical innovation to be able to moves involving both government and Extraction 2018 was organized
HI¿FLHQWO\SURFHVVWKHVHPDWHULDOV industry towards creating a circular by The Metallurgy and Materials
 7KHSUR¿OHRIWKHPHWDOOXUJLFDO economy; one in which waste and energy Society (MetSoc) of the
industries in Europe and the United usage is minimized, and metal and materials Canadian Institute of Mining,
6WDWHVKDVFKDQJHGVLJQL¿FDQWO\IURP recycling are maximized. These initiatives, Metallurgy and Petroleum
one of primary metal production and the need for industry, university, and (CIM); the Society for Mining,
Metallurgy & Exploration (SME);
to manufacturing. Metallurgical JRYHUQPHQWFRRSHUDWLRQDUHH[HPSOL¿HGE\
and TMS.
engineers have played a key role in the the establishment of the European Institute
464 Hayes

of Innovation and Technology (EIT). decline in teaching, and in research and

Do You Within this Institute, “raw materials” was development capabilities in core aspects
of metallurgical process engineering.6
designated as one of the key Knowledge
Have a and Innovation Communities charged with Metallurgical process engineering has
assisting the drive towards the circular been reduced to a minor component of
Perspective economy.1 most of these MSE teaching and learning
The underlying message is clear. Our programs, and in many cases, key courses
to Share? technologically based society cannot be have disappeared from the curriculum.
sustained without the continued supply of There has been a marked decline in student
JOM: The
metals from both primary and secondary enrollments in metallurgical process
Magazine is sources. Metallurgical engineers are engineering programs in industrialized
seeking case needed to provide innovative solutions countries.
to the emerging and complex challenges In addition, those countries whose
studies, member faced by the industry. economies rely on primary metal
perspectives, production in general, do not have
and non- infrastructures strong enough to establish
Education Programs
technical project Over the past 100 years, the principal and sustain strong mineral processing
pathways that have been developed for and metallurgical process engineering
overviews with
the education of our young engineers programs.
strong industrial have been through tertiary institutions, Across the globe, the strong support
applications. To our colleges and universities. In general, previously given by industry for mining
the standards of training of professional and metallurgical education has faded.
suggest an article engineers have never been higher. Schools of Mines, once the source of
idea, contact All recognized engineering programs skilled workforces for primary production,
are subject to rigorous scrutiny by have been closed. The numbers of
Kaitlin Calva,
accreditation panels representing academic positions at universities
JOM Magazine the various engineering professions. supported by industry have declined. The
Managing Editor, $FFUHGLWHGOHDUQLQJSURJUDPVPXVWIXO¿OO result is that, internationally, with the few
minimum standards of learning outcomes exceptions of countries having centrally
at covering fundamental and specialist controlled economies, there has been a
knowledge, graduate attributes and GHFOLQHLQ¿QDQFLDOUHVRXUFHVGLUHFWHG
professional engineering skills.2–4 Major towards providing opportunities for future
efforts are being made across all tertiary metallurgical engineering professionals.
institutions to improve teaching and In short, the quality and sustainability of
learning practice, to enhance the quality of metallurgical engineering education in
deep learning and provide the foundations most regions of the world are under threat
for lifelong learning. at the very time that innovation and the
However, if we examine the structure ability to meet major technical challenges
and content of metallurgical engineering are becoming the central tenants to the
SURJUDPVZH¿QGSDUWLFXODUO\LQWKH future of the industry. Industry will be the
United States and Europe, that the majority ¿UVWWRORVHLIWKHDYDLODELOLW\RIZHOO
have morphed over time into materials trained metallurgical engineers continues
science and engineering (MSE) programs to decline. Those companies and countries
—a matrix of disciplines that are related that invest in their workforce are the
through the common elements of structure/ ones most likely to survive the emerging
composition; properties; performance, challenges and to take advantage of the
and product synthesis.5 This change has business opportunities ahead.
been driven by major investments into A concerted effort is needed by industry,
the research and development of new professional societies, and academia
materials, and their application to new to promote and sustain the education
manufacturing technologies. While the DQGUHVHDUFKFDSDFLWLHVLQWKH¿HOGRI
expansion and growth of metallurgical metallurgical process engineering at our
education into these new areas is welcome, tertiary institutions.
close examination reveals a marked
The World Needs Metallurgical Process Engineers 465

Metallurgists of the Future

If the need for continued metallurgical
education is accepted, it is timely to
ask some important questions. What
knowledge, skills, and attributes do
we need from our future metallurgical
engineering workforce to prepare them
for the challenges that lie ahead? How are
we to ensure that we provide appropriate
learning and career pathways for future
professional metallurgical engineers?
We need metallurgical engineers who
can understand and provide innovative
solutions to complex problems, and
who can adapt to the rapid changes in
All metallurgical engineers need problem solving, and synthesis.
Figure 1. Common core
a background and understanding of knowledge and skills that
The common features that could be can be used to define
mathematics, the basic sciences, materials, XVHGWRGH¿QHWKHPHWDOOXUJLFDOSURFHVV and develop metallurgical
and other engineering sciences in order to engineering (MPE) programs for the future, process engineering
be able to communicate and effectively and the core knowledge and skills needed, (MPE) programs.
work with other professionals in the can be summarized by four interrelated
industry. Some would argue that a general areas: specialist metallurgical process
HQJLQHHULQJHGXFDWLRQLVVXI¿FLHQW knowledge and skills; process control/
However, the metallurgical industry also reaction engineering; process modeling
needs engineers with specialist knowledge and optimization; and process design and
and advanced skills in mineral (physical) synthesis (see Figure 1).
processing, hydro/electro-metallurgy, It is not by chance that many of these
and pyrometallurgy. In order to truly areas of knowledge and core skills are
understand metallurgical processes and common to chemical engineering graduates.
have an appreciation of the potential for That discipline has been successful in
process improvement, a graduate engineer transforming itself from its origins in
should have an understanding of the whole applied chemistry to encompassing a wide
value chain. range of process industries that include
The metallurgist of the future will petroleum, oil and gas, polymers, inorganic
spend more time utilizing the powerful chemicals, biotechnology, environmental
computer tools that have become available engineering, and new materials. It is time
through the digital revolution rather to combine the strengths of process and
WKDQSDWUROOLQJWKHVKRSÀRRUFRQWUROOLQJ systems thinking, which are at the heart
individual unit operations. Using these of modern chemical engineering, with
sophisticated computer-based tools to specialist metallurgy knowledge and skills,
analyze complex data sets and predict to reinvigorate the metallurgical process
process outcomes, metallurgical engineers engineering discipline. In this way, we can
can play a key role in increasing the create educational structures that embrace
productivities of integrated operations the needs of the current and the future
returns of these operations.7 The ability  $ÀH[LEOH\HWVRXQGDQGUREXVWVWUXFWXUH
to apply these principles to different can be built by utilizing the strengths of
physical and chemical systems can be process engineering in the early years of the
provided by integrating this specialist programs. Basic and engineering sciences
metallurgical knowledge with core in year one and process engineering
process engineering knowledge and skills and modeling fundamentals in year two
in chemical thermodynamics, mass and with contextual learning of metallurgical
energy transport, reaction kinetics, process applications. In years three and four,
control, systems engineering analysis, the study plan would include specialist
466 Hayes

Figure 2. A proposed metallurgical courses and courses from In practice, the details of programs
program structure for related disciplines as appropriate for local offered at different institutions will vary
bachelor’s of engineering
metallurgical process industry requirements. The proposed depending on local and regional industry
engineering programs structure of such a program, one that needs. In some countries, the focus will be
based on a strong incorporates the features of a core of on mineral processing and the preparation
process engineering process engineering and broadening of mineral concentrates; in others, the
core with flexibility to through links to different branches and emphasis will be on the development
cover the many branches
and specializations that VSHFLDOLVW¿HOGVRIPHWDOOXUJ\LVLOOXVWUDWHG of metal recovery and recycling or new
embody the discipline. schematically in Figure 2. In this way, a process routes for the production of
strong and sound metallurgical process advanced materials. The point is that
engineering program can be constructed a common set of core knowledge and
using, and building on, the existing skills is required to be able to tackle these
teaching and learning resources within problems as a professional metallurgical
our engineering faculties. The model engineer.
institutions to offer or develop programs Essential Elements for the
of metallurgical engineering. Continuing the analogy of the tree
This framework could be used to (see Figure 3 on the following page),
develop four-RU¿YH-year bachelor’s the healthy growth of plants requires
or B.E./M.E. programs in metallurgical the provision of the atmosphere (sun,
process engineering. The structure is not water, CO2) and a fertile environment
intended to be prescriptive and may not (essential elements, organic matter,
be suitable or appropriate for all tertiary nutrients, microbiological activity). We
institutions. It is, however, the basis for the can draw some useful analogies between
B.E. dual major program in chemical and this example and the requirements for
metallurgical engineering that has been sustaining metallurgical education.
running successfully since 2006 at The
University of Queensland.
The World Needs Metallurgical Process Engineers 467

In the metallurgical context, the

atmosphere that is essential for the
growth and sustainability of metallurgical
engineering as a discipline is one that
• Acknowledgement at senior leadership
and proactive industry support for
metallurgical engineering education
• Creating attractive, challenging, and
visible career paths
• Promoting a positive and exciting
vision of the ways in which professional
metallurgical engineers can contribute to
the future sustainability of our society

The fertile environment necessarily

• Ensuring that recognized tertiary
institutions have appropriate numbers of
academic staff and learning facilities to
be able to provide specialist metallurgy
learning at undergraduate and
postgraduate levels
• Active engagement between university/
industry to identify the challenges
faced by the minerals, primary and
recycled metals, and advanced materials
• Providing supportive learning
environments and collaborations
between complimentary academic
disciplines, e.g., MSE programs and Most university programs are active in Figure 3. The essential
chemical engineering departments recruiting students whenever and wherever conditions for the healthy
they can, since their funding is principally growth of plants, which
• Providing appropriate funding models to based on enrolment numbers. Potential
provides a useful analogy
sustain undergraduate and postgraduate for the requirements for
actions by universities to re-establish the sustaining metallurgical
process metallurgy programs SUR¿OHRIPHWDOOXUJLFDOSURFHVVHQJLQHHULQJ education.
Strategies to Develop Our • Re-establishing attractive undergraduate
Future Workforce majors in MPE programs with a focus
 $PDMRULVVXHLVDWWUDFWLQJVXI¿FLHQW on core metallurgical and process
young would-be engineers into engineering skills
metallurgical engineering programs. For • 'HYHORSLQJÀH[LEOHHQWU\DQGSDWKZD\V
change in perceptions on their part. The
industry needs to embrace a new vision • Articulating clear, exciting career
and demonstrate that the focus is just not pathways and opportunities for graduates
about making money—young people want • Promoting and marketing a positive view
to feel that they are genuinely playing of the future of the metallurgical industry
a part in shaping the future. We need to
excite their interest; to show them how
they can utilize their skills in creating
a sustainable society and a healthier
468 Hayes

The numbers of students expected in In this article, I have put forward

these MPE programs are small relative some thoughts about the knowledge,
to other engineering disciplines, which skills, and attributes needed in our future
makes them hard to justify to university metallurgical engineering workforce and
management. For this reason alone, the SURSRVHGDÀH[LEOHHGXFDWLRQDOVWUXFWXUH
establishment of MPE programs needs based on process metallurgy, that could
DGGLWLRQDOPRUDODQG¿QDQFLDOVXSSRUW be used to deliver the next generation
from the minerals and metallurgical of engineers. I look forward to hearing
industries. other ideas on how we can meet these
goals, actions, and initiatives that can be
Potential actions by industry include:
taken so that we can address the rapid
• Actively supporting and engaging with
changes faced by the modern metallurgical
academic and research staff through
industry, and move closer to the economic,
funding industry focused research
technical, and social sustainability of our
• Providing industry-funded academic society.
metallurgical engineering End Notes
• Developing long-term partnerships in 1. EIT, European Institute of Innovation and
support of research and development Technology,
strengths in fundamental research in /eit-raw-materials.
VHOHFWHGFRUH¿HOGVRIH[SHUWLVH 2. ABET, Accreditation Board for Engineering
• Attracting prospective students into and Technology, Engineering Accreditation
the industry through providing and Commission,
supporting quality industrial work 3. EA, Engineers Australia,
experiences and internships for early
year (1, 2, 3) undergraduate students 4. Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChem E),
• Providing mentoring, technical
development, engineering skills and 5. M.C. Flemings, “What Next for Departments
career guidance to early career graduate of Materials Science and Engineering?”, Annu.
engineers Rev. Mater. Sci. 1999, vol. 29, pp.1–23.
• Establishing continuing professional 6. P.C. Hayes, "The Changing World of
Metallurgical Education," Extraction 2018,
development programs within
2018, pp. 57–67.
companies that support deep learning of
advanced skills 7. E. Jak, "The Role of Research in
Pyrometallurgy Technology Development from
• Establishing good relationships and Fundamentals to Process Improvements—
ongoing dialogue between senior Future Opportunities,” Extraction 2018, 2018,
management in companies and pp.19–37.
universities, to provide a mechanism
of explaining industry needs and Peter Hayes is professor of metallurgical
opportunities for collaborations engineering within the School of
Chemical Engineering at The University
Summary of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. He is
The world needs metallurgical process currently the Metallurgical Engineering
engineers to ensure continued metal Program leader and is senior researcher
resource supply and sustainability of our in the Pyrometallurgy Innovation Centre
(PYROSEARCH) at the university. He has
technologically based society.
been an active TMS member since 1986.
This will require concerted efforts by
industry, professional societies, and
academia across the globe to promote
and sustain the education and research
process engineering at our tertiary
institutions. JO