MRL Staff

The MRL staff provides technical assistance to private sponsors on mine operations, source characterization, and mineral processing technology. Our primary researchers are:


Robert Mensah-Biney, Ph.D., Director
Robert Mensah-Biney is the Director of NCSU Minerals Research Laboratory in Asheville where he is involved with process design and development for industrial minerals. Dr. Mensah-Biney has over thirty-five years of experience in mineral and chemical industry research and development and is a Member of the Society of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers. He has special expertise in gold-silver process metallurgy as well as experience in uranium process development, general metallurgical processing of the recovery of minerals, hazardous waste treatment and management including soil remediation and recovery of heavy metals from industrial waste water.

Specialized Fields:

  • Hazardous waste techniques
  • Biphase separation of ultra-fine particles
  • Hydrometallurgical processes for mineral recovery
  • Experience in:
    • Gold-silver leaching and recovery
    • Uranium
    • High-purity quartz
    • Phosphate
    • Ion exchange
    • Kyanite
    • Frac sand
    • Silica sand
    • spodumene



Bayram Suha Aksoy, Ph.D., Sr Minerals Processing Engineer
Dr. Bayram “Suha” Aksoy has instructed and performed research and development duties in laboratory, pilot plant and plant operations in the areas of mineral processing since 1989 in North America. His areas of expertise include colloid and surface chemistry, foam and foam stability, kaolin, coal, phosphate, sulfide minerals beneficiation in laboratory, pilot plant and plant application. He has been an instructor for mineral processing, pulp and paper processes in laboratory, chemistry and physical science courses, and their laboratories. In addition, he is experienced in mining waste pond cleaning by flocculation techniques. 
Specialized Fields:

  • Surface and Colloid Chemistry
  • Flotation
    • Industrial Minerals (Kaolin Clay, Mica, Quarts, etc.)
    • Coal and Coal Ash
    • Metallic minerals (Gold, Copper, Pyrite, Spodumene (lithium), etc.)
  • Grinding
  • Hydrometallurgy (Gold)



Luis Chia, Ph.D., Sr Minerals Processing Engineer
Dr. Luis Chia has worked in mineral processing, hydrometallurgy and research and development in several countries of South and North America for more than 40 years. He has held several positions such as supervisor, process manager, plant manager, project manager, Director of Research and Development, senior sales and process manager and others.
Specialized Fields:

  • Fine and ultrafine grinding
  • Hydrometallurgy of gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, etc.
  • Flotation of copper, silver, gold, zinc, tin, non-metallic, etc.



Bob Baldwin, Lab Supervisor/ Engineering Research Technician
Bob Baldwin has more than 47 years in all facets of mineral processing and pilot plant operations. He has an Associates Degree in Chemistry.


Randall Beavers, Educational Outreach Coordinator/Minerals Research Technician II
Randall Beavers has more than 40 years experience in mineral laboratory testing, pilot plant assembly and operation. Randall coordinates outreach efforts including laboratory tours and classroom presentations.


Gemma Dove, Research Technician
Gemma Dove has specialized in the beneficiation of quarry mines and coal ash for the purposes of economic growth and reducing environmental impacts. With more than 10 years of working at the Minerals Research Lab, she is now focused on experimental design and exploratory testing using microscopy and analytical tools. She has degrees in both Engineering and Environmental Studies.
Gemma has experience with industrial minerals such as high-purity quartz, feldspar, mica, iron minerals, kyanite, spodumene (lithium), sphalerite (zinc), tin, pyrite, and gold-silver.  


Jonathan Simms, Research Specialist
Jonathan Simms oversees the project management and coordination of pilot plant and lab scale projects. He serves as the Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator for the Minerals Research Lab and ensures compliance to safety and fire inspections. He specializes in the beneficiation process of industrial minerals and mine tailings with emphasis on management and troubleshooting of environmental impacts and sustainability. Jonathan has a BS in Environmental Studies.  
Jonathan has experience in multiple facets of mineral processing but with special emphasis on pilot plant design, plant flotation processes, dense media separation and mineral separation science. His favorite minerals include Feldspars, Graphite, Kyanite, Micas, Phosphate, Spodumene, Sulphides, Quartz (High to Low Quality), and REE Ore.


Brian Freeman, Facilities Maintenance Technician
Brian Freeman provides facility, utility and equipment maintenance and support for the Minerals Research Lab. He is proficient in the use of conventional milling machines, lathes, surface, and cylindrical grinders; cutting and brazing; and MIG and arc welding; the installation and repair of water and plumbing lines, new heating and coolant systems, and water pumps; operation of excavation and trenching equipment; and soldering and brazing of copper lines.
Brian has over 20 years’ experience maintaining a 38,000 gallon centralized coolant system and multiple stand-alone units in automotive brake manufacturing facility, monitoring pH and bacteria content, nitrites and nitrates levels; removal of hazardous waste products; general maintenance on equipment, basic construction and repair of supporting structures, troubleshooting and repair of pumps, automated valves, chip-wringer, and the liquid level monitoring system; member of internal and external spill response team; confined space entry; and fork lift and farm tractor operations. 
Brian has attended courses in Tool Design and Machine Shop.