Written by GL Smith Monday, 01 April 2013 00:00
However, the most recent development, the establishment of a Platinum Sector Peace and Stability Accord, is a significant step forward.
Journal President's Corner
The last month or so has not been a particularly bright period for the mining industry. The platinum industry in particular has had to contract by temporarily closing sections and even mines, while others have had to delay expansion plans. We all know that this is a short-term contraction and that once the world economy recovers, mining will take off again.
From time to time, it is necessary for all organizations to take a look at themselves from an organizational perspective to determine whether they are still able to do what they promise to do in the most effective manner. In the case of the SAIMM, this meant looking at our Constitution very carefully, as that is the set of rules according to which we operate. The last important review was in 2006, when it was changed to allow the incorporation of branches in other countries in southern Africa on an equal footing. We became the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.
The outcome of the latest review was mostly encouraging. For 108 years (and counting) we are still on the track we promised to be on, essentially providing a platform for communication. However, there were also a few items that are now either impossible or impractical to do according to the Constitution.
It is unusual for this column to be devoted to a particular person. Then again, life is full of exceptions, and the person this column pays tribute to is an exceptional person, a miner who was recently awarded the highest honour a South African miner has ever received.
He was born in 1919 in Bothaville in the Free State and matriculated at the age of 15 from Monument High School in Krugersdorp. When he reached 19, the age when many people finish high school, he already had a Wits bachelor’s degree in mining engineering under his belt. Unlike what one would expect from a particularly bright young person, he did not join academia but instead turned to industry, Anglo Transvaal, to do the hard yards.
The papers in this issue of the Journal concentrate on projects, mostly performed as compulsory subjects during the break preceeding the final year.These projects are the real test of a student’s ability to perform an investigation, starting with the identification of a problem, deciding how to investigate, performing the investigation, and then reaching valid conclusions based on the outcomes of the investigation. So simple, yet often so difficult for even seasoned people in practice to stick to the rules!
This is the month of the year when we say that ‘time is marching on’ and ‘we can’t believe how quickly it is going’. Just a personal observation regarding the passage of time, with perhaps a lesson in relativity, is that I notice that the older you get, the longer the weeks become but the shorter the years.
This edition of the Journal again covers a wide range of subjects related to underground mining. Safety features strongly, with topics covering the spectrum from the helicopter view of the probability-based likelihood of successful outcomes of the systems to the
detailed design of rock support elements. Accident prevention utilizing advanced technology receives attention, as does the design and implementation of mining methods. The environment is not ignored either.
Mining cannot be viewed in isolation from the community in which it is performed. There are several levels of community. The broad South African mining industry takes place in the broad South African community. As such, it is a vital part of the broad South African economy which is in turn linked to the world. What happens in the world influences South Africa and in turn our mining industry.
At this time of the year, it is customary to reflect on the past 12 months and invariably, to remark that we cannot believe that another year has gone by. By this time, we should know that there are no slow years. They all fly by, each year quicker than the one before.
This edition of the Journal covers a wide variety of subjects. There should be something of interest for just about everyone. It is also gratifying to note the geographic spread of the authors contributions came from: Canada, Iran, China, Australia, and of course South Africa.
In reviewing 2010, one cannot but observe that the renewed growth following the recession of the past two years has been accompanied by an encouraging freshness in thinking. Increasingly it is realized that the resurgence in demand for the world’s mineral resources, as stimulated by population growth and urbanisation and concomitant economic growth, in China and India and other emerging economies.