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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

Paste and Thickened Tailings

The November edition of the Journal contains papers that were presented at Paste 2012, the 15th International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings that was held in the Pilanesberg during April this year.

I am sure that every reader has heard the joke about the argument between the various organs of the body as to which would be crowned as the ‘King’. The brain, heart, and lungs all made their respective impressive cases. Then an unmentionable organ quietly announced its claim to the title, to be greeted with laughter and derision.

The best research in mining and metallurgy

‘All men by nature desire knowledge’ Aristotle
‘Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret.’ Matthew Arnold

This month’s issue of the Journal carries papers on a wide range of topics in the areas of mining, metallurgy, and mathematics. This gives rise to the question of what constitutes a good paper. Essentially, the subject matter should be of interest or importance to at least some readers; the content should be communicated clearly and logically; and some papers should communicate new knowledge that is worth being referenced by other authors. The ‘value’ of a
paper is a difficult thing to define, let alone to measure, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying.

International Rock Mechanics Symposium

“Rock of Ages cleft for me Let me hide myself in thee” Augustus Toplady 1772.

In the papers in this issue we are exposed to some of the expertise that has evolved over the decades in rock mechanics - the basic science involved in rock breakage, whether accidently or intentionally.

Breakthrough Technologies

The ten papers in the July edition would appear, at first glance, to have little in common. Upon a second glance, they can be grouped into three broad themes:
 * Environmental (two papers)
 * Technology (four in metallurgy and two in mining)
 * Human knowledge (two papers). I admit that it’s not a
very imaginative analysis, but it’s the best that I can do!

Innovation from fluidization

Innovate: ‘to invent or begin to apply’- Collins Dictionary

Several papers in this issue from an international conference on industrial fluidization represent an exceptional opportunity for innovation.

It is common cause that innovation is the prerequisite for job creation, which is rated as the highest priority in Africa.

In this context the most succinct definition of ‘Innovation’ from Collins Dictionary includes two components; invention and application. Concepts are two a penny. Inventions, (let’s call them R&D projects so as not to be confused with patents) are much more demanding in professional expertise at research institutions, and are widely reported in journals such as this one. The application component in all respects is the most comprehensively difficult.

Fascinating Possibilities

Professor Robbie Robinson written his thoughtprovoking comments on a monthly basis since 1995, and he assures the Publications Committee that this is not the end of his comments or his involvement with the Journal. However, May 2012 has fallen to me.

This issue contains ten papers covering a range of subjects. Two mining papers concern uncertainty and planning in mining projects. A topic often discussed in the Journal. A further two present fundamental aspects of rock breakage, elastic deformation energy, compressive and tensile. As a metallurgist, when looking at such papers, I wonder whether the understanding that mining engineers have in the area of rock mechanics could not be borrowed to design a new method of rock breaking. One paper talks about abrasion which only recently appeared in modelling of comminution processes.

Student Colloquium 2011

Every year the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy holds a student colloquium. This provides the opportunity for selected undergraduate students to present a paper before an audience of their peers and senior members of the Institute. Presenters are drawn from those universities in the region where courses are offered in mining engineering, metallurgy, and minerals processing. This edition of the Journal is devoted to the nine papers prepared subsequently by the presenters, sometimes in conjunction with their academic or industrial mentors.

Physical beneficiation

“Old Soldiers Never Die They Only Fade Away” Song of 1914–18 war.

I was particularly delighted to work through the papers in this issue, for two reasons.

Firstly, a high proportion of the papers are the work of two of the most prestigious research capabilities in South Africa, namely those of Anglo American and De Beers, with headquarters in what might be described as the Crown Mines research park.

Mine Safety with Heritage Security

“Tug on anything in nature and you will find It connected to everything else”

John MuirIn this issue there is much for the pragmatist and a great deal for the philosopher. With this Journal Comment, I start my 62nd year of association with mining and metallurgy. The quotation reflects my experience. I have rubbed shoulders with every element in the periodic table, from hydrogen, via the platinum group metals to uranium; from pragmatism to philosophies on job creation. And so it is in this issue.

New Year Options

“There is a tide in the affairs of men Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries……” William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)

There is once again a selection of papers for a variety of specialists. The two papers on statistics of sampling are far too erudite to allow comment from me. I mention them in deference to the many students and statisticians who enjoyed the pioneering work of the internationally honoured Danie Krige, a platinum medallist of the SAIMM.