Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 113 num. 6 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Job creation concepts</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>A progress report on ultra-high-pressure waterjet cutting underground: the future of narrow reef gold and PGE mining</b>]]> High-pressure waterjet technology is proposed as an alternative tool for selective underground mining of high-grade ore sections in stratiform orebodies showing a preferred 'bottom' or 'top' enrichment such as the Witwatersrand reefs and the Bushveld Complex platiniferous reefs. This technique, utilizing known mining technology together with more advanced machinery and additives as used in industrial and cleaning applications, may lead to an increased life-of-mine (LOM) for mining operations. A series of experiments was successfully carried out in a laboratory on Witwatersrand quartzite material, indicating acceptable cutting performance. Mining volumes by selectively cutting of reef portions are considered to be comparable to traditional drilling and blasting. Economic advantages of waterjet mining include energy savings due to the lower quantity of gangue rock to be hoisted to surface, as well as savings by a decrease in the usage of blasting materials. Capital expenditure of waterjet cutting, if applied on a broad scale, could be lower in the long term than that of conventional drilling and blasting methods. Mining by the application of high-pressure waterjet technology could become a competitive 'green technology' improving the economics and safety of labour-intensive mining operations. This paper suggests that waterjet cutting at an industrial scale can become a routine hard-rock mining technique in the future. <![CDATA[<b>Pre-mining stress model for subsurface excavations in southern Africa</b>]]> This paper covers in situ stresses in the Earth's crust prior to any man-made disturbances, such as mining. It introduces the Southern African Stress Database, which contains primitive stress measurements obtained from locations spread all over southern Africa. The measured stress data shows large variability without any visible trends, except a relationship with increasing depth. The stress database is reviewed briefly, establishing means to measure the variability or dispersion in the measurements, and showing that the dispersion is not as much a result of experimental error as it is a feature of primitive stress. The paper demonstrates from the beginning that the state of stress in rock is highly variable, but that there are well-defined maximum and minimum limits to all the stress components in rock. Formal error analysis is introduced to check the consistency of the database and to separate out a database of consistent stress measurements for use in a primitive stress model. The aim is to provide a picture of primitive crustal stress based on objective stress measurements together with interpretations of how the primitive stress can be affected by the five main influences; namely, depth, rock mass properties, tectonism, isostacy, and erosion. Four elementary models for primitive stress are introduced and compared with the measured data. It is quite clear that none of the elementary models is sufficient to describe the data. In the absence of a better model, this paper suggests a generic model based on the Hoek-Brown failure criterion and the consistent stress database, since it incorporates the variability in the stress tensor that is likely to be encountered underground all over southern Africa. Rock engineers should take every opportunity to obtain local primitive stress data at every mining operation and civil engineering project, and to adjust the proposed model accordingly <![CDATA[<b>An algorithm to construct industry cost curves used in analysing cash cost performance of operations for selected minerals in South Africa</b>]]> South Africa hosts some of the world's largest known resources and reserves of minerals that are strategically important to the global economy. The country's mining industry contributes significantly to the national economy in terms of gross domestic product, export earnings, corporate tax receipts, remuneration earnings, and employment. Platinum, gold, and coal are significant minerals because they make the largest individual contributions to these economic indicators. Several factors impact the cash cost performance of operations that mine these minerals, thus affecting the future sustainability of these operations, which are generally 'price-takers'. It is therefore important that the cash cost performance of operations for these key minerals is analysed. Commercially available industry cost curves can be used for such analysis. However, some companies may not be able to afford to purchase these curves. This paper presents a simple Microsoft Excel® algorithm for constructing the curves. It also demonstrates how the constructed industry curves were used to analyse the cash cost performance of South African mining operations for the three selected minerals for the period 2007 to 2011, which included the 2008 global financial crisis. The analysis revealed that the operations were affected by several global and local factors during the review period. The work reported in this paper is part of an MSc research study at the University of the Witwatersrand. <![CDATA[<b>Kinetic studies on the leaching reactions in the autoclave circuit of the Tati Hydrometallurgical Demonstration Plant</b>]]> Since the commissioning of the Tati Hydrometallurgical Demonstration Plant (HDP), which produces Ni and Cu cathodes as well as Co salt from sulphide concentrate employing Activox® technology for leaching, no kinetic data has been generated from the plant under normal operating conditions, from start-up to steady state. Therefore, this study seeks to determine the rate of reactions in the leaching circuit with a view to obtaining kinetic data for the system under the current operating conditions. Within the five-compartment autoclave operating at temperatures of 105°C to 110°C and 1100 kPa pressure, the extraction of Ni, Cu, and Co ions into solution is achieved through the oxidation of the sulphide concentrate using approximately 50 kg H2SO4 per ton, 10 kg NaCl per ton, and 1.21 kg O2 per kilogram of S2-. The autoclave reactions showed complex kinetics, with the reactions proceeding via some intermediate(s) before the formation of products. The results suggest that the reactions were dependent on the size of the metal ion of interest and the concentrations of the metal ions in the Tati concentrate as well as in chloride leaching. The order of the leaching rate constants was Fe2+ > Cu2+ > Ni2+ > Co2+ in all the compartments studied. The rates of leaching were also found to decrease as the concentrate moves from compartment 1 to compartment 4. For compartments 1 to 3, leaching was observed to be preceded by dilution of the repulp liquor (copper raffinate). The leaching rate for compartment 5 was slightly lower than that of compartment 1 but higher than the rates of compartments 2, 3, and 4 for all the metals studied. <![CDATA[<b>Location of seismic events at Kusasalethu mine using a layered velocity model</b>]]> Seismic networks in deep gold mines of South Africa are often planar owing to the tabular geometry of the orebody and, therefore, the mining infrastructure. Consequently, seismic event locations are poorly constrained in the direction perpendicular to the reef plane, and symmetrical locations above and below the reef plane may fit the observed data equally well. This problem may be resolved in situations where the strata above and below the reef plane have significantly different seismic velocities, which is the case for the Ventersdorp Contact Reef at Kusasalethu mine (previously Elandskraal, the amalgamation of Deelkraal and Elandsrand). A location method using a layered location model that takes into account the velocity contrast between the layers was tested. Observed direct- and head-waves were used to determine the velocity bounds of the P-wave velocities in the two-layer model. The data-set was also used to find the best P- and S-wave velocities for the two layers by grid searching over a range of velocities and minimizing the sum of the travel-time residuals. The results from the grid search and those from the calibration of velocities using direct- and head-waves give similar P-wave velocities for each of the two layers. A second set of seismic events was then relocated with this layered model and locations closer to reef were found. This simple layered location method goes some way to reduce the reef-perpendicular location errors for Kusasalethu mine in particular <![CDATA[<b>Online database of mine planning and peripheral software used in the South African mining industry</b>]]> The utilization of software is now inherent to virtually every activity along the mining value chain. However, apart from the software survey done by Gibbs in the 1990s and work on the extent of diffusion of information and communication technology (ICT) in the South African platinum sector by Mugodi and Fleming in 2003, the nature and extent of software utilization in the South African mining industry has never been evaluated. The Mine Planning, Optimisation and Valuation (MPOV) Research Group in the School of Mining Engineering, University of Witwatersrand, therefore initiated a project to collate and analyse the current utilization of software in the South African mining industry. This was done through the development of a web-based database of the relevant software. Snowball sampling was used to collect the data because the South African mining industry is diverse and software utilization is fragmented across and within the sectors of the industry. The data was then organized into distinct categories so that the information from a variety of sources could be evaluated on the same basis. A beta version of the database can be accessed online through a user-friendly front-end platform at The database is expected to help at least 13 educational institutions with decisions on facilities and training that are vital to the education of mining and mining-related professionals. Exploration, mining, and consulting companies will also benefit from information in the database relating to availability and useful combinations of software solutions. The database is also strategic to software providers by providing a better understanding of their respective relative market share along the mining value chain. An analysis of the data collated in this research shows that about 77% of the software users are mining companies, 17% are consulting companies, 3% are mineral exploration companies, and the rest are software providers and educational institutions. The software used in the South African mining industry is largely provided by Gemcom Software International, MineRP Solutions, and MRM Mining Services. CAE Mining, who in 2010 acquired the Datamine Group providing Datamine software, is also widely acknowledged as a major software supplier in South Africa, but data from them had not been obtained at the time of producing the beta version of the database due to proprietary constraints. The work reported in this paper is part of an MSc research study in the School of Mining Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluation of the effect of coal chemical properties on the Hardgrove Grindability Index (HGI) of coal using artificial neural networks</b>]]> In this investigation, the effects of different coal chemical properties were studied to estimate the coal Hardgrove Grindability Index (HGI) values index. An artificial neural network (ANN) method for 300 data-sets was used for evaluating the HGI values. Ten input parameters were used, and the outputs of the models were compared in order to select the best model for this study. A three-layer ANN was found to be optimum with architecture of five neurons in each of the first and second hidden layers, and one neuron in the output layer. The correlation coefficients (R2) for the training and test data were 0.962 and 0.82 respectively. Sensitivity analysis showed that volatile material, carbon, hydrogen, Btu, nitrogen, and fixed carbon (all on a dry basis) have the greatest effect on HGI, and moisture, oxygen (dry), ash (dry), and total sulphur (dry) the least effect. <![CDATA[<b>Start-up slags for producing magnesium from dolomite ore in a Magnethermic reactor</b>]]> The present study investigates the feasibility of using some materials as start-up slags for the extraction of magnesium metal from Egyptian dolomite ores by the Magnethermic technique. The reduction of roasted dolomite (dolime) takes place in a closed evacuated electric arc furnace (small Magnetherm reactor) using ferrosilicon as a reducing agent and liquid start-up slag as a reduction bath under an inert atmosphere. The operational parameters affecting the stabilization of the start-up slag composition and the extraction of magnesium such as reducing agent stoichiometry, reduction temperature, and time were investigated. The dolomitic charge was in the form of sintered briquettes. The charge was reduced under an argon atmosphere in the Magnetherm reactor for constant period and constant temperature. The results showed that the clinker can be used as a start-up slag for the magnethermic process. Also, the optimum conditions for the extraction process were found at 2XSi stoichiometry to give maximum reduction of 80% after 15 minutes reduction time at a temperature of 1550°C. XRD and XRF measurements were used to determine the phases present and the extent of reduction of magnesium, respectively <![CDATA[<b>Incident reconstruction simulations-potential impact on the prevention of future mine incidents</b>]]> The mining industry in South Africa faces real challenges with regard to the reduction of safety-related incidents. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the need for alternative interventions in addition to other safety improvement strategies already employed on mines. It furthermore supports an existing paradigm: incident investigations. An investigation into fatalities in the South African mining industry shows that although great progress has been achieved through the reduction in fatalities in all sectors of the industry over the last few years, more can and should be done to achieve status of 'zero harm'. Fatalities and lost time injuries on mines result not only in large financial losses, but also in disruptions of mining operations in general through Section 54 stoppages to resolve the situation. The approach of the paper is therefore not to try and prove whether there is high fatality rate and/or lost time injuries, but in what way incident reconstruction simulations (IRS) can have an impact in the future prevention of such incidents. The challenge therefore lies in the utilization of pro-active systems that would show employees the possible outcomes of being exposed to certain hazards. In real life, these incidents cannot be re-enacted and in most cases we can only learn through the previous mistakes of others. A virtual reality (VR) education and training system will enable employees to be 'exposed' to different hazards in a safe environment, and simulation, in a 'forgiving' environment, of the possible consequences of unsafe acts. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), unsafe acts and unsafe conditions are indirect causes of safety-related incidents, but there are also direct causes; for example, unplanned release of energy and/or hazardous material, and basic causes, for example, management safety policies, personal factors, and environmental factors. The administrative workload associated with any incident investigation places a large burden on the investigation team, and in most cases other employees are informed through vague administrative processes what the 'real cause' for the incident/accident was. New preventative strategies are often put in place without showing the employees what the real causes of the incident/accident were. This can be mitigated through the use of interactive VR simulations/animations of the hazards that they are exposed to and how to deal with them. If VR interventions are not used as proposed by this paper, the real causes and consequences of almost all fatalities and lost time injuries may never be fully understood. This paper also emphasizes what potential impact IRS could have on the prevention of future mine incidents as part and parcel of a pro-active risk prevention strategy. The intention is therefore not to replace any other risk prevention strategies, but to visually enhance the reality of the incident.