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

Family and Friends

For this President’s Corner, the Editor reminded me that this is the December edition of the Journal. For most of our members, December represents the time of year that celebrates the birth of Christ in the Christian calendar. Certainly, for many it is characterized by the opportunity to spend some quality time with family and friends in a spirit of comradeship and goodwill. Therefore, I would like to talk about two different things that this has brought to my mind.

Anomaly in our Mining Industry

As I it down to write this piece I happen to be on leave in what we South Africans generically refer to as ‘the UK’; perhaps without pausing to think on what United Kingdom actually means (the 1707 Act of Union forming Great Britain and the 1801 Act joining Great Britain and [Northern] Ireland). In one week’s time from writing there will be a referendum vote in Scotland to determine if Scotland will remain an integrated part of the United Kingdom or be instrumental in starting a process resulting in a ‘dis-United Kingdom’. It is considered certain by social commentators that should Scotland secure independence from Westminster (governance based in London) then Wales will follow shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, in other parts of Europe the Basque separatists, for example, are watching very carefully how the European Union may respond to an independent Scotland.

Mentoring and Coaching

Mentoring and coaching are two words that come up at many mining industry forums. Many mining companies have mentoring and coaching programmes. The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) encourages candidate engineers to seek out a mentor, and the SAIMM has had mentoring and coaching programmes in the past. What is a mentor? An experienced and trusted advisor is the definition. What is a coach? A private tutor is the definition. While many people will regard the two as being one and the same, they clearly are not and, more importantly, both are vital.


Beneficiation is a term that has many different meanings within the mining industry and beyond. From an economic perspective, beneficiation relates to adding value to a mined raw material, or the transformation of mined ore into a higher value product that can be consumed locally or exported. In the mining industry, beneficiation is mainly used to describe metallurgical processes that are utilized to upgrade the mined raw material or ‘run-of-mine’ (ROM) ore.

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.