The SAIMM is a professional institute with local and international links aimed at assisting members source information about technological developments in the mining, metallurgical and related sectors.
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A monthly publication devoted to scientific transactions and specialist technical topics is unlikely to be on the priority reading list of the majority of the mining and metallurgical community. But it is the ambition of the Publication's Committee to make the Journal of much wider interest to our general membership from technician trainees to mine managers to CEO's of our constituent companies. It is to entice general readership that some 1200 words of valuable space are devoted to the Journal Comment each month. This is intended to highlight some of the features and impact of the papers to excite and activate attention.

To entice this preliminary glance before confining the publication to the book shelf or even the wpb, the author has to call on a large measure of journalistic licence in style, titles and quotations. It is essential to be spicy, controversial and even provocative to separate it from the abbreviated authoritative but necessary scientific style of the bulk of the contents.
The Journal Comment aims to be an enticement to dig into some important feature of the papers in the issue. For this reason it has been decided to include it as a separate item on the Institutes Web Site. This might provoke those who enjoy twittering, blogging and googling to submit comment and criticism, all of which will be welcomed and responded to. At least it is proof that somebody has read it.
R.E. Robinson

Conference ’Platinum – Metal for the Future’

The SAIMM biannual platinum conference was first convened in 2004 and has run regularly through to 2014. During this period the industry has moved through a number of challenges – from the global financial crisis to metal pricing spikes and troughs, labour unrest in the form of a crippling five-month strike in South Africa in the first half of 2014, and now sustained oversupply in the face of reduced demand associated with the slow recovery of the European markets and the cooling of the Chinese economy.

Pyrometallurgical modelling

’It is unworthy of excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labour of calculation which could safely be relegated to anyone else if machines were used.’
– Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 - 1716)

’The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is unbelievably slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculation.’
– Leo Cherne (1912-1999)

Pyrometallurgical operations are essentially concerned with the high-temperature processing of materials. These chemical processes can be extremely complex, involving reactions between gas, solids, liquid slag, and liquid metal (and sometimes other phases as well).

Young Professionals

As part of its commitment to supporting young professionals entering the mining and metallurgical industries, the SAIMM holds a Student Colloquium every year. The ten papers in this edition of the Journal are based on presentations made at that event by students and recent graduates in mining engineering, metallurgy, and minerals processing.

Sustainability: Environmental, Economic, and Social

The title of this Comment is taken from the excellent recent paper by M. Mostert of SRK, in the Journal of the SAIMM (vol. 114, November 2014.). The paper was both relevant and significant to my previous contributions on strategy and tactics that I compiled for a SAIMM conference that regrettably never took place.

Uncertainty and the Great Unknowns

The February edition of the Journal contains 12 papers that have something for everyone. For the extractive metallurgists, there are papers on jigging and the flotation of coal and gold. For the mining engineers, there are contributions on stope design, mine refrigeration, and decision-making strategies for the selection of heat exchangers and for mine planning.

Mining, the Environment and Society Conference

The SAIMM held its first Mining, the Environment and Society conference in November 2013. The theme of this conference was ‘Issues and Responses’. Over the two days, 21 papers highlighted the range of social and environmental issues associated with mining and how the sector is responding, or could respond, to them. A number of papers in this edition of the Journal have been selected from the conference.

A Southern African Silver Anniversary 2014 - SOMP Annual Meeting

If it was not for the vision of the founder member of the Society of Mining Professors, Professor Günter Fettweis, the International Society of Mining Professors would not have been possible as it stands today. A group of mining professors under the guidance of Professor Fettweiss gathered on 21 October 1990 at the Montanuniversität in Leoben, Austria to establish the Society of Mining Professors.

SARES 2014

The papers in this issue of the Journal have been selected from the Sixth South African Rock Engineering Symposium (SARES 2014), which was jointly organized by the South African National Institute of Rock Engineering (SANIRE) and the SAIMM. The theme of this symposium, ‘Creating Value through Innovative Rock Engineering’, was selected due to the recent global market changes and other challenges facing the mining industry. Mining needs to become still safer and more efficient while addressing the challenges of rising costs, skills shortages, marginal ore, complex geology, and greater mining depth. Innovative rock engineering design is therefore essential for the future of the mining industry.

Physical Beneficiation 2013

Physical Beneficiation 2013 was the third conference of its kind, the first being the DMS and Gravity Concentration Conference held in 2006 and the second the Physical Beneficiation 2010 Conference. Physical beneficiation covers dense medium separation (DMS), gravity concentration, magnetic separation, electrostatic separation, and ore sorting –all processes that are widely used in the Southern African mining industry. A total of 22 papers were presented during the two days of the conference, 19 and 20 November 2013, and covered a wide range of commodities and unit processes within the physical beneficiation field. Two keynote addresses set the stage for each day, with Lionel Falcon and Will Blair sharing their vast knowledge and experience in coal processing and DMS respectively. This issue of the Journal features 10 of the papers that were presented at this conference.

The increasing role of computers in engineering

When I first read the abstracts of the six papers appearing in the Journal this month, I thought that I would have to comment on each paper individually and in depth, as there did not seem to be a common theme linking them in any way. What do you think: CFD modelling of ventilation patterns in mines, sublevel stope optimization, the indexing of mining risk, controlling fires in coal mines, process for treating vanadium titano-magnetites, and erosion of the freeze lining in submerged-arc furnaces?