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Journal President's Cornerpages

Mining will take off again

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.

Constitution and Bylaws

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.

Danie Krige

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.

Performing an investigation

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!

Time Marches On

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.

The environment is not ignored

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.

What happens in the world influences South Africa

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.

SAIMM President's Year End Message - Time is not Renewable

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.

Geographic Spread of Authors

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.


Ayear may be a long time in politics, but for me it has passed in a flash. For all that the Office Bearers Committee and I set out to do, there is always so much more still to be done. Nevertheless, I do feel that, by building on the hard work of my predecessors, we have maintained your Institute in a good situation, despite the chaos and uncertainty in the world we live in.


This edition of the SAIMM Journal is a milestone in the sense that it is the first edition fully dedicated to discussing and opening debate on issues related to the economics of the mining industry in southern Africa.

The Face of Mining in Africa

The face of mining in Africa is changing rapidly and is becoming increasingly complex. More so than ever, the competition for strategic resources is critical to the economic growth of the emerging economies as they posture to challenge the suzerainty of the long established developed states. This once again places the African minerals industry at the centre of the global geopolitical stage.

Changing Needs & Interests

The Constitution of our Institute states that the Institute must identify, represent and promote the interest and needs of its members. Like the industry in which we all work, these needs and interests change continuously.

Water Resource

Irecently attended the water resource conference that was organized by the SAIMM and held in Mpumalanga. Given the sensitivity about the use of water resources, I felt that my opening remarks bear repeating.

Insatiable Demand for Minerals

The recent and apparently almost insatiable demand for minerals, stimulated largely by demand from the East, represents a huge opportunity for the Southern African mining industry.

A Stark Reminder

The dreadful mine disaster in New Zealand is a stark reminder to us all of the risks our industry faces to feed the voracious appetite for minerals. It is, therefore, good to record the much improved 2010 South African safety statistics, which show a significant decrease in underground fatalities in our mines.

New Economic World Order

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.

Student Colloquium

It has become an SAIMM tradition to present a Student Colloquium every year. This year’s Student Colloquium took place in early November at the Vaal University of Technology in Vanderbijlpark.