September 12, 2019: Around 1,000 delegates attended the 18ABC at Bali’s Westin Resort Nusa Dua between September 3-6, which came straight after the Sixth International Secondary Lead Conference (6ISLC).
More than 55 papers were presented and 150 exhibitors set out stalls at the conference centre, which played host to what is the largest Asia lead conference to date, now in its 18th occurrence in the past 30 years.
For the first time, a charity event ran over the three days — the One Minute Giveback, sponsored by Sorfin Yoshimura, encouraged delegates to support three Bali-based charities by either handing over cash or spending a few minutes packing backpacks for school children and people in need of medical supplies.
And in another first, there were four female chairs — Microporous’s Claudia Lorenzini, O M Impianti’s Melissa Maggioni, Ola Hekselman from Imperial College London and Paolina Atanassova, from Cabot Corporation. This amounted to a third of all speakers at the 18ABC, something conference chair Mark Stevenson said would become a minimum.
“I really want to thank them for their participation — they were great, and we want more of them,” he said.
“I enjoyed this conference more than any I have been to,” said one of the conference speakers. “This is despite the nervous edge of the speakers and delegates due to the oft-forecasted decline of PbA.”
“There are so many exhibitors here, and so many top quality presentations,” said another delegate. “I think this conference has had more than any previous one — it feels as if it’s the biggest yet.”
The conference has come a long way since its beginnings in 1986, when the Singapore-based organization ZALAS (Zinc and Lead Asian Services) decided to promote the use of zinc and lead by technically supporting and educating customers.
It was sponsored by major primary lead and zinc companies from Australia and Pacific Rim countries.
Conference chair Mark Stevenson said the differences between then and now were manifold — from the amount of lead consumed globally per year then (5.5 million tonnes, with 65% entering the battery sector) to now (more than 13 million tonnes, 85% in the battery market), to the range and type of batteries produced.
“I believe we’ve got the right mix of presentations this year — there was a balance between the practical, the theoretical and the commercial and we didn’t lose sight of the broader industry view,” he said.
“I know that a lot of conferences like to pick an overarching theme and revolve things around that. I prefer to ensure we cover many topics and allow speakers and delegates to dictate what is happening in the industry.
“There’s a threat ahead with the arrival of lithium batteries on a huge scale to the detriment of lead. In many ways we’re reacting to this in the right way — I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a boom of innovation and ideas.”
On the evening before the final day, an ENTEK-sponsored gala dinner was held at a cliff-top venue in the open air. Some 50 VW sports jeeps and buses packed with delegates received a police escort to the venue. Around 800 delegates sat down to an Indonesian buffet with traditional singing and dancing performances and fireworks.
The venue for the next ABC, in two years’ time, has yet to be announced. Unconfirmed rumours say this could well be Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.