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SAIMM News

  • SAIMM President 2018/2019 – Alastair Stuart Macfarlane

    SAIMM President 2018/2019 – Alastair Stuart Macfarlane

    On the 16th of August 2018 Alastair Macfarlane was inducted as the SAIMM President for 2018/2019. The students and members attending the AGM welcomed him as president with applause. We look forward to the impact that Alastair Macfarlane will make during his year in office.

    Towards the future: African Mining Vision, Mining Phakisa and the SAIMM

    Recent winds of political change blowing through the African continent have created the hope of a new dawn for the mining industry, and for renewed impetus to support the African Mining Vision.

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  • Conference Review: Copper Cobalt Africa

    Copper Cobalt Africa, hosted by the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM), took place from 10 to 12 July 2018. The conference was held in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Zambia, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the mighty Victoria Falls. Recent strong rises in the prices of copper and cobalt, coupled with increasing international interest in developments in the African Copperbelt, attracted over 300 delegates, representing 22 countries.

    https://www.saimm.co.za/images/stories/CopperCobaltAfrica2-31072018.jpg

    CuCoAfrica Dignitaries: L-R:
    Mooya Lumamba (Director of Mines and Minerals, Zambia), Jackson Sikamo (Chairperson and Country Manager at Chibuluma Mines Plc, Zambia), Sehliselo Ndlovu (President: SAIMM), Paul Chanda (Permanent Secretary: Zambia Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development), Sokwani Chilembo (CEO Zambian Chamber of Mines), Darius Muma (Zambian Branch Chair: SAIMM), Kathy Sole (Conference Chair: Copper Cobalt Africa 2018).

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  • Obituary - Emeritus Professor Dee Bradshaw

    Obituary - Emeritus Professor Dee Bradshaw

    Dee Bradshaw
    22 Sept 1958 to 7 June 2018

    Emeritus Professor Dee Bradshaw passed away on 7th June 2018 after a courageous battle with cancer, just a few months short of her 60th Birthday. Throughout her illness, Dee remained a leading light and inspiration to students, colleagues and professionals across the globe. A major highlight for her in 2018 was the launch of her book “Green Mining: Beyond the Myth” at the Two Ocean’s Aquarium ahead of the Annual Mining Indaba - attended by senior representatives of the Minister of the Presidency, AngloGold Ashanti and the University of Cape Town (UCT) as well as colleagues, students, friends and family. The book culminates a career of thought leadership, a passion for people and minerals in collectively addressing complex, intractable problems in society.

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From the President's Corner

  • Seeing the value of the SAIMM

    Being the President of a professional organization like the SAIMM can be quite demanding. However, it’s not always stressful because there are quite a few pleasures and privileges that accompany the job. One of the significant pleasures is the interaction with members at all the numerous events that are organized by the Institute. Here you get to talk and listen

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  • Diversity and Inclusion in the Minerals Industry

    A number of studies have confirmed that there is a positive relationship between diversity and business performance, and that diversity in leadership roles is what tends to define the success of a business. This is because knowledge creation and application is enriched by a variety of skills, experience, and cultural diversity. The more diverse a team, the more perspectives, the

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  • Upskilling the heroes of the mining industry

    I recently had the pleasure and opportunity to listen to one of the most well-known and admired person in South Africa; the former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela. She gave keynote addresses at the International Women’s Day celebration hosted by the Motsepe Foundation and at the pre-AGM dinner for the Chamber of Mines (now known as the Minerals Council South

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From the Journal Comments

  • SOMP Regional Conference

    This edition of the Journal is dedicated to the Society of Mining Professors 6th Regional Conference 2018, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 12 to 14 March. This Conference was hosted by Mining Engineering Education South Africa (MEESA) and the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM). MEESA is comprised of the School of Mining Engineering at

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  • From the Editorʼs desk

    The range of topics and the locations of the authors in this month’s edition is an indication of the international nature of the Journal, which is confirmed by the fact that of the 141 papers that were published in the Journal in 2017/2018, 58 were from outside South Africa. This is one of the criteria that ensures that the Journal

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Market News

  • KSB Pumps for University of Pretoria laboratory

    Professor Josua Meyer, Chairman of the School of Engineering and Head of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering of the University of Pretoria KSB Pumps and Valves has assisted the University of Pretoria in the construction of a large controlled-temperature test unit, which will form the backbone of ongoing research into heat transfer, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. The impressive unit will allow

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  • Roadmap to interoperability

    How can the mining industry meet the challenges of interoperability? GMSG is building a path forward. Monday, April 9, 2018. Interoperability is a large, intricate, and complex issue that can inhibit technological advances in the international mining industry. Players hold widely different views and interpretations as to scope, content, application, and end state. Indeed, GMSG has identified interoperability as a

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Jobs

What price water?

‘The biggest waste of water in the country by far You spend half a pint and flush two gallons’ Attr. Prince Philip—Duke of Edinburgh

I am writing this comment at the end of the World Water Week but it might appear only in a later issue appropriate to this topic. I had the privilege of attending the Mine Water Symposium arranged by the Geological Society of South Africa in mid-March. It was an excellent presentation dealing predominately with the underground water from the gold mines on the Witwatersrand and the coalmines around Witbank and Middelburg.

The formation of acid mine drainage (AMD), its accumulation underground, and the environmental problem it gives rise to when pumped or when seeping to the surface, were discussed in some detail. Some excellent maps were presented of the central, western and southern Witwatersrand mining areas and those of the northern and southern coal areas. These areas span the continental divide and the AMD can drain into the Vaal catchment’s area, ultimately ending in the Vaal River leading to the Atlantic.

However, the area around Krugersdorp can drain into the ‘Cradle of Mankind’, now a Heritage Site, and into the Sterkfontein Caves with disastrous consequences. From the Northern coalfields, the polluted water could flow into the Olifants River and via the KNP into Moçambique and the Indian Ocean. From the southern section, the water flows through Mpumalanga past the KNP and through Moçambique into the Indian Ocean. The age old solution to the problem of AMD was to add lime to precipitate the toxic metals and dump the sludge on a slimes dam.

However, the treated effluent then contains quantities of calcium and magnesium sulphates with smaller quantities of sodium chloride which, although not toxic, represent a build-up of the total dissolved solids (tds,) which in the streams of the Vaal catchment area increase to an unacceptable level in the feed water to the domestic supply to Gauteng. Large quantities of the pristine Lesotho water then have to be used to dilute these impurities and flush them from the barrage area to flow down into the Atlantic.

There are many other problems such as the slimes dams leaking toxic metals into the rivers and there have been major campaigns to find a universal solution. Geohydrologists with the operating mines have been hard at work to reduce the quantities of AMD involved, with considerable success. It has been demonstrated that the gypsiferous effluents can be used for irrigation and indeed it is known that many soils can benefit from the addition of sulphates, but only time will tell whether this is a sustainable solution. At the symposium, some very relevant data was provided and plans for a cooperative effort were described. Amcoal, for example, had run a pilot plant using reverse osmosis to produce domestic quality water, which in due course will be made available to the Witbank municipality at considerable cost to these coalmines.

A concentrated brine and gypsum slurry still has to be disposed of elsewhere. Grootvlei mine has spent considerable amounts to treat 10 Ml/day of their AMD using the BioSure process, a patented biological reduction of sulphate to sulphides using sewage sludge as the organic food for the micro-organisms. However, a mixture of organic solids from the sewage mixed with calcium and magnesium sulphides has to be disposed of on a waste dump.

The symposium which, as a supplement to the Water Week, pointed to the urgent need to look at the water resources of Southern Africa on a holistic basis. All the stakeholders are very conscious of the need for positive action to make use of this AMD to provide sustainable solutions in line with recent thinking on future targets and challenges regarding water supplies. These are:  The undertaking by Government to supply as a constitutional right all the population with domestic water.  The critically urgent requirement to expand electric power production dramatically and in the next decade this means coal-fired stations with increased demand for cooling water.  

Increasing demands from our neighbours who are dependent on flow of adequate water from the rivers into their territories from sources in South Africa.  The use of water in agricultural irrigation is unquestionably another national priority in terms of development of rural areas and in job creation.  The announced intention of the production of bio fuels, which implies an increase in agriculture and demand for water.  There are many who believe that availability of water is a limiting factor in achieving the targets for economic development. The question of how we solve these problems will be debated by many experts. It is my conviction that an unrecognized top priority in water R&D is the conversion of sewage effluent into quality agricultural water for high efficiency small lot farming.

There are many worthwhile avenues to explore. Some aspects I believe relevant to the mining industry might be of interest. To explain them I propose water usage must be assigned a ‘net potential added value, (PAV). And the following fundamentals must apply:  No water is to be uselessly discarded into the ocean or needlessly evaporated if it has the potential of an alternative use with a positive PAV. This does not mean, for example, that the use of water to provide evaporative cooling for power stations is banned as having a zero PAV. It can be assigned a positive PAV, since the alternative is to produce more high purity boiler feed water at a cost or maybe to install an energy consuming refrigeration cooling unit.

The cost of each of these options can easily be evaluated and the lowest of these can be translated into a PAV and assigned a priority rating.  There must be a major effort devoted to assessing our water resources and alternative supplies and costs. The hydrogeologist and climatologist must play a dominant role. For example, there are countless dolomite caverns filled with water and those adjacent to mines are emptied by pumping (a negative PAV) and thrown away. They may or may not be refilled by flood water at high rainfall periods and they may have a positive PAV.  Since every drop of water in SA belongs to the state by law, it is not unreasonable for the state to assign a priority level on the basis of PAVs for any proposed usage.

These over-simplified ground rules imply a large amount of investigation and calculation and a high level of wisdom in strategic planning. But I do believe some unexpected conclusions may be forthcoming. An example may illustrate the concept more clearly. Assume a farmer can grow 3 t/ha of maize worth R3 000 with 360 mm rainfall over 6 months. Assume that with an additional 180 mm centre-pivot irrigation, i.e. 1800 m3 he can grow 6.6 t/ha. The PAV for this irrigation is R2/m3.

This is about the same as for domestic usage! It also suggests that this figure is what one could afford to pay to treat waste domestic effluent (zero PAV) to provide irrigation water. If drip irrigation were to be used at six times the water efficiency of centre pivot systems, a PAV of R12/m3 is indicated. Interestingly, the farming company Tavland using dolomitic water pumped from Western Areas Mine were achieving higher PAV values using drip irrigation on land within the mine property. There are, I believe, many similar opportunities to be explored and particularly in relation to long-term sustainability.  R.E. Robinson May 2006