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Ronel Kappes


Director of Processing at Newmont

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Hi, my name is Ronel Kappes. I'm a Director of Processing with Newmont Corporation here in Denver, Colorado. I am the inaugural recipient of the Cindy Moore Courageous Impact Award, which is an incredible honor. It's an award that was established in honor of an incredible woman in mining by her colleagues. I am really honored to be receiving this award.

Earlier on in my career in mining, I didn't quite understand the importance of having that visible leadership, and being able to see somebody go ahead and do the things that you'd like to do someday. It's incredibly important that women have these role models such as Cindy Moore to aspire to work towards. It is an incredible industry to work in.

I have made so many friends and I have incredible people that I work with men and women, and I've really seen the industry change over the last 20 years, and it is such an inspiring industry to work in. We really do change the world with our activities in mining.

I am a very proud member of the mineral and metallurgical processing division and we do some great technical programming where you have the opportunity to learn so many different things. In the next few years we have the Hydrometallurgy conference in August of 2023. It's going to be fantastic. We have already received 80 papers and we're really looking forward to that. If hydrometallurgy is your field, this is definitely the place to be.

In 2024, at the end of September, we are hosting the International Mineral Processing Congress. And so again, if anybody has anything to do with mineral processing, comminution, flotation, etc., this will definitely be the place to be. We're looking at an excellent program for that event as well.

I started out doing a bachelor's in chemical engineering.  I'm from South Africa originally, where mineral processing and mining is a big portion of the GDP. So one of the classes we did in chemical engineering was mineral processing. And there I learned about flotation, which I thought was an incredible separation process where you use bubbles to make a physical separation.

I got really interested in flotation and then I came to the United States to work with Professor Jan Miller at the University of Utah and did a PhD in flotation chemistry. So that's sort of how I ended up in the mining industry, and then I started working for Newmont after that.

I joined SME as a student. As part of Professor Miller's research group, he’s a past MPD chair as well, it was one of the first things we did as students. And so I became an SME member and did my first presentation at the SME conference in 1999.