Educational Short Courses

SME Minnesota Conference Short Courses cover a broad range of topical areas within the mining industry. The courses are taught by highly regarded industry experts. SME Minnesota Conference short courses are designed to meet the continuing education needs of SME members and other professionals in the industry. They provide concise information in an easily referenced format for study following the onsite course.

All course fees include applicable coffee breaks, lunch, course materials, PDH and a certificate of completion. Short Courses will be held at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC).

Would you like to register for short courses only?

Please click on Register above under a registration type. Once you are in the registration process, from the Registration Information drop down, select the appropriate type of registration (Standard, Senior, Student, Exhibit Hall Only, Short Course Only or Ticket Only). Continue through the registration process to complete your registration online.

Flotation Practice in the Iron Ore Industry

$125 per person | 8:00am - 4:30pm


This course is designed to provide attendees with a basic understanding of the flotation process, especially as applied to the iron ore industry. We will discuss project examples and experiences related to the flotation of silica in concentrating iron ore (magnetite and hematite). We will also discuss examples of existing/traditional flotation equipment and new flotation technology including reagent suites. The content is designed to provide plant process staff (operations, maintenance, and environmental) with the basic knowledge and understanding of the concepts, design, operation, and optimization of flotation circuits in the iron ore industry. Plant staff, consultants and design engineers new to, or already working in the iron ore industry who wish to improve their knowledge or get a better understanding of flotation practice should attend.

The course will cover the following specific aspects of flotation in iron ore processing:

  • Flotation Basics
    • Flotation Science
    • Fundamental reagent and flotation chemistry
    • Bubbles, froths, bubble-particle interactions
  • Why Flotation in the Iron Ore Industry
    • History
    • Hematite
    • Magnetite
  • Project Examples and Experience in the Iron Ore Industry
  • Tools for optimization of flotation process circuits
    • Flotation Modeling
    • Flotation analysis and process monitoring
  • Flotation Equipment Discussion
    • Standard technology
    • New technology and developments
  • Chemical Discussion
    • Standard technology
    • New technology and developments
    • Environmental considerations


Ronney Silva graduated with a BS in Mining in 2000 at Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) where he also received an MS in 2004 and PHD in 2008. Ronney worked for VALE in the research center from 2001 to 2007 as a process engineer. After a short period at GL&V as a Flotation Product Manager in 2007, he worked for an engineering company called Sandwell as a process engineer the same year. In 2008 he started working for FLSmidth Brazil as a Flotation Product Manager, in 2009 he moved to Salt Lake City as a Research and Development engineer, Group Leader Flotation and Sr Process Engineer until 2014 with FLSmidth. In August 2014 thru 2017 he worked for Magnetation Inc, Grand Rapids MN as a Sr Process Engineer, leading the research and analysis of new and existing technologies. Currently working at Clariant as US New Business Development Manager, Clariant provides a large range of flotation reagents for the mining industry.

Mine-to-Mill Process

$75 per person | 8:00am - 12:00pm


To produce a high quality pellet from low-grade magnetite iron ore, it is important that each stage in the process (orebody models, mining, concentrating, and pelletizing) be reconciled to minimize deviations from product specifications and maximize throughput and recovery, but control cost. In order for this to occur, it is important that engineers or geologists managing each stage have a site-specific understanding of the standard mine-to-mill (M2M) approach applicable to any style of mineral deposit – collaboratively integrating geology, mining, and mineral processing knowledge to optimize overall productivity and cost. It begins with a good foundation in geology and mineralogy to understand liberation characteristics of valuable minerals and where downstream processing problems could originate. This information is used in planning the optimal blend of ores and optimized blasting for mine sequencing and ore liberation. The final step is reconciling planned versus actual mine-delivered ore qualities with plant performance to develop more accurate metrics for future planning and budgeting.

This short course will review the following topics related to understanding M2M relationships.

  • Introduction to geology of the Iron Range, focusing on macroscopic aspects of the Biwabik Iron Formation that impact downstream plant performance
  • Mineralogy and ore characterization – establishing cause and effect relationships between ore mineral liberation and plant performance
  • Mining the data – mine-to-mill databases, analysis, statistics, importance of QA/QC
  • Reconciliation – Validating the model

This course is intended for mine operation supervisors, plant (concentrator and pelletizer) operation foremen, and early-career geologists, mine engineers, or process engineers, or anyone interested in the idealized M2M process on the Mesabi Iron Range.


Rodney (Rod) Johnson is a geometallurgist and economic geologist and currently holds the position of Endowed Taconite Chair at the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is responsible for directing research programs relating to the development of mineral deposits in the state and identifying new technological innovations in mineral processing which may have significant impact on the industry in Minnesota. He formed Rod Johnson & Associates Inc., to provide geology, mineralogy, geometallurgy, and metallurgy services to iron ore, nickel, and copper companies around the world. Rod was Chief Geometallurgist at Cliffs Natural Resources; Chief Geologist at the White Pine Mine, White Pine, Michigan; and North America Nickel Specialist for Western Mining Corp. (USA). He has a Ph.D. in geology from Michigan Technological University.

Peter Jongewaard is a consulting geologist from northern Minnesota with extensive experience in mining and characterization of iron ores from across the full length of the Mesabi Range. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota – Duluth (B.Sc. 1986, M.Sc. 1989). He worked in base and precious metal exploration in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine with Noranda from 1989 to1994. From 1995-2007 he was mine geologist at the Thunderbird Mine in Eveleth, and from 2007-2014 served in various roles within the Cliffs Technical Group, on assignment in Minnesota, the Labrador Trough area of eastern Canada, Western Australia and Brazil. He is a currently a Registered Member of SME and a Licensed Professional Geologist with the State of Minnesota.

Kurt Gitzlaff graduated from Michigan Technological University with a B.Sc. in Mining Engineering in 1997. He joined Cliffs Natural Resources in 1997, where he currently works as Senior Staff Engineer and Manager of the Strategic and Long Range mine planning group. Kurt has held various engineering roles throughout his career that include short range planning, drill and blast, Life of Mine and economic planning and he help author Cliffs version of the 43-101 document for mine reserves. Kurt has worked in the US, Canada and Australia. He is currently a Registered Member with SME.

Michael Orobona graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a B.Sc. in Geological Engineering in 1991, and he completed a M.Sc. in Geological Sciences from Queen’s University in 1996. Between 1991 and 2002, he was employed by Newmont Mining Corporation on gold exploration and mine geology projects in Nevada and the Northwest U.S. He joined Cliffs Natural Resources in 2003, where he currently works as Principal Geologist, following mine-site and corporate roles supporting North American iron ore operations and in management of nickel, copper, and direct-shipping iron exploration projects in British Columbia, Mexico and Western Australia. He is currently a Mentor for the Society of Economic Geologists and a Certified Professional Geologist through AIPG.

New Concepts in Environmental Permitting – Site Specific Standards & TALU

$75 per person | 12:00pm - 4:30pm


Potential biological impacts on water systems receiving discharge from municipal and industrial facilities are increasingly being considered when reviewing environmental permit applications and determining appropriate discharge effluent limits. Understanding and characterizing potential impacts on a case by case basis is an integral component of this concept, as discharges and associated receiving water systems vary greatly across the state. More and more, biological populations are being studied in addition to chemical analyses, which have historically been used to determine effluent limits. As biological populations change from site to site, there is no one-size-fits-all model to apply to a discharge being considered for permitting. Generating site-specific standards based on biology is a newer concept that is receiving more attention as a better understanding of existing biological populations associated with existing discharges has been developed. This course will examine the rationale, methodology and advantages for developing site-specific biological standards as opposed to strictly chemical-based effluent limits.


Will Bouchard, Research Scientist, MPCA. Bio: Will Bouchard received his M.A. (2002) in Entomology from the University of Kansas and his Ph.D. (2007) in Entomology from the University of Minnesota. He was an adjunct professor at Hamline University and a post-doctoral researcher at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University before becoming a research scientist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in 2008. His work at the MPCA includes coordinating the implementation of the tiered aquatic life uses (TALU) framework and the development of water quality standards to protect aquatic biota.

In 2004, O’Niell Tedrow earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Aquatic Biology from St. Cloud State University with a research focus on Freshwater Toxicology. O’Niell continued his education at Clemson University, and in 2007 earned a Master’s of Science Degree in Forest Resources with an emphasis on Freshwater Toxicology. Following graduation, he worked as an USEPA SSA Research Assistant in Athens, GA, from Sept. 2007 – June 2009. In June 2009, became full-time employed at Northeast Technical Services, Inc. in Virginia, MN, as a Water Resources Scientist / Aquatic Toxicologist until August 2012 when he became a Biology Instructor at Vermilion Community College while retaining a part-time position at NTS as a Water Resources Scientist / Aquatic Toxicologist. Currently, O’Niell is earning his PhD from Lakehead University with a focus on wild rice ecology, while maintaining his Instructorship at VCC and part-time position at NTS.

Earn Professional Development Hours (PDHs)

For each technical session and short course you attend, you can earn Professional Development Hours. Each contact hour of professional development equals one PDH. Please check with your state board(s) for their criteria to be certain this meets the required needs. For each full day course, a participant is eligible to receive 7 PDH credits. For each half day course, a participant is eligible to receive 3 PDH credits. For additional questions regarding professional development hours for SME Minnesota Conference Short Courses, please email Tara Davis at

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