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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Journal President's Cornerpages

The sustainability of the South African mining industr

The sustainability of the South African mining industry – and the global mining industry for that matter – is highly dependent on the pipeline of new mining engineers and metallurgists entering the industry. However, the training and development of mining engineers and metallurgists already in the industry is just as critical. Not too long ago any mining engineer or metallurgist entering the mining industry underwent a graduate training programme.

Base Metal Ores

The South African mining industry has been mainly associated with gold, which is understandable given that it was the gold mines of the late nineteenth century that were really the beginning of the industry as we know it. Currently platinum mining is making headlines regarding long strikes, and coal mining and Eskom are also much in the news. Diamonds have always featured in the media, to an extent that varies with time. However, base metals have never received any prominence, although they have formed part of the industry’s contribution for many decades. Copper, nickel, lead, and zinc are produced in South Africa. Palabora Mining Company produces copper, Nkomati Nickel produces nickel, and Black Mountain produces copper, zinc, and lead. In addition, copper, nickel, and cobalt are by-products from the base metals refineries associated with the four major platinum producers.

Danie Krige and his pioneering work in geostatistics

This issue of the Journal commemorates Danie Krige and his pioneering work in geostatistics, which has set the global standards in this discipline. His work is one example of many innovations emanating from the South African mining industry, which because of its diversity and complexity, requires continual innovation in order to survive and grow.

Mining and Metallurgy graduates

One of the key drivers for a successful South African mining industry is a pipeline of mining and metallurgy graduates. Without these individuals the sustainability of the industry will be in jeopardy. Therefore, a key aspect of SAIMM activities is the support of mining and metallurgy students and the tertiary institutions that provide their education. While there is some financial support available via the SAIMM scholarship trust fund, the type of support that the SAIMM provides is to motivate students with their studies and improve the probability of them being employed within the industry.

Physical Metallurgy

Within the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, metallurgy is generally taken to refer to extractive metallurgy as this sphere of metallurgy represents those processes used for the beneficiation of run-of-mine ore. However, I believe that many SAIMM members do not realize that the metallurgy part also represents physical metallurgy. Physical metallurgy is the transformation of metal products into alloys and/or semi-fabricated products.

Sampling and metal / metallurgical accounting is alive

Compliments of the season to all SAIMM members, and may 2014 be a safe, prosperous, and productive year. I trust that you and your families had a well-deserved and enjoyable break.

Sampling and metal/metallurgical accounting is something I have been involved with ever since I started my career in the mining industry. Initially, in the production environment, it was about where do we need to sample, can we sample there, will the sample be manual or automatic, how often do we sample, and what should the sample size be.

Taking Stock of 2013

We have come to the end of another year, and it is the time to slow down and take stock of the 12 months that have passed and to look forward to the year ahead. In the South African mining industry a very traumatic 2012 has been followed by an uncertain 2013.

I would like to think that 2014 will be more positive. There are many positive indications, and we should dwell on these since the negatives have a tendency to obscure the positives.

Coal - balance between supplies to Eskom and exports

The South African coal mining industry is very often portrayed as a poor cousin to the gold and platinum sectors. And more often than not, when coal is under the spotlight, the emphasis is on supplies to Eskom. The true contribution of coal to the South African economy and the significant size of the industry are rarely appreciated.

Serious Dialogue

I would like to start by saying how honoured I am to be your President for the next 12 months. I have every confidence that our Institute will continue to grow in terms of membership and in terms of southern African branches. Although the South African mining industry is going through traumatic times I do see plenty of light at the end of the tunnel. The South African mining industry still has huge potential. Unlocking this potential will require more extensive and serious dialogue between all the mining industry stakeholders. There are already many forums where this is taking place and we need to build on this momentum.

The link between success and skills development

I concluded last month’s Corner, which was on the topic of effective technology transfer in the underground narrow tabular mining industry, with a question: ‘do we fully understand the problem and do we have the right approach and skills to achieve a solution?’ I would like to explore the link between minerals industry success and appropriate skills development a bit further this month.