MRL Staff Expertise and Experience

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, PhD

MRL Director

Summary: Over 30 years of diverse experience in mineral and chemical industry research and development. Special expertise in gold-silver process metallurgy. 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


John Schlanz

Chief Engineer

Summary: Over 30 years’ experience in processing, production and beneficiation of industrial minerals. Diverse background in testing, design, installation and operation of process circuits, including grinding, sizing, flotation (conventional and column), dewatering, drying, magnetic separation, gravity separation and materials handling. Experienced in product development, plant evaluation and trouble-shooting, plant design and layouts, cost estimating, project management, and tailings utilization.

Specialized Fields:

  • Process evaluation
  • Flow sheet design
  • Project management
  • Extensive experience in:
    • Feldspar beneficiation
    • High-purity quartz products
    • Glass sand/ceramic products
    • Mica beneficiation
    • Nepheline syenite
    • Graphite
    • Garnet
    • Waste utilization/by-product development
    • Flotation (column and conventional)
    • Pilot plant test studies


Hamid Akbari, PhD

Senior Process Engineer

Summary: Over 15 years of experience in Mineral processing and metallurgical engineering research and development.

Special expertise in:

  • Providing direct support and innovative to the mineral and metallurgical processing industries
  • Metallurgical processes (comminution, physical separation, flotation, leaching, SX/EW, dewatering) flowsheet integration, optimization and automation, engineering design of experiments, and data analysis
  • Optimizing and Improving existing processes, and developing and implementing new technologies
  • Preparing technical reports, proposals and budget justifications
  • Modeling and simulating metallurgical plant flowsheets


Bob Baldwin

Lab Supervisor/ Engineering Research Technician

Associates Degree in Chemistry with 36 years of experience in all facets of mineral processing.


Randall Beavers

Educational Outreach Coordinator/Minerals Research Technician II

Over 20 years’ experience in laboratory testing, pilot plant assembly and operation. Schedules laboratory tours and classroom presentations.


Jonathan Simms

Research Technician


Fred Thompson

Maintenance Mechanic IV

Associates Degree in Ceramic Engineering. Extensive experience in building construction and maintenance. Highly skilled in machinery fabrication, maintenance and repair.