Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 114 num. 12 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>A Southern African Silver Anniversary 2014 SOMP Annual Meeting</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Presidents's corner</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Society of Mining Professors</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>A new chair in Occupational Hygiene at Wits</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>An evaluation of the effectiveness of teamwork, with an emphasis on peer assessment and peer review, in an introductory engineering course</b>]]> The Faculty of Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) offers a core first-year engineering design and innovation course, ENGG1000, undertaken during the first and second semesters. This course is highly regarded in the sense that it provides an introduction to many concepts and activities that students will experience over the four-year minimum for which they are undergraduates at UNSW. Approximately 1400 students enrol in the semester 1 course across the Faculty, typically 80 of which undertake the Mining Engineering stream. Students in teams of between six and eight design and construct a physical model to represent an aspect of their chosen discipline. For example, in 2013 the mining engineers designed and built a model dragline. This paper concentrates a major aspect of the course - the involvement of team members in group activities and the development of the associated skills of peer assessment and peer review as the course progresses over a period of 12 weeks. The term 'peer assessment' in this paper refers to the requirement for students to assess the design components of their peers. This course has a structured requirement in terms of how a successful design is a result of a sound design process rather than a 'try and see' approach. Each student must describe in detail the process they undertook to achieve their final design - hence the approach is independent of the discipline and/or project selected. Peer review is a process whereby students review the contribution of their team members to the overall design. This activity encourages team involvement and interaction. The final assessment mark can be moderated by the outcome of this peer review, although it is run twice during the semester. The first 'run' is for feedback only during week six and hence no moderation is undertaken. It was found through consultation with students and from questionnaires that both processes are well accepted and highly regarded by students, as they give them a degree of ownership of the assessment process. In addition, the processes provide rapid and relevant feedback on the progress of individual students. Peer review and peer assessment are also considered to be very valuable tools for use in courses in succeeding years. For instance, many of the courses in mining engineering rely heavily on group assessment tasks <![CDATA[<b>The Sasol Engineering Leadership Academy (Part of the Sasol Chair in Safety Health and Environment initiative in the Department of Mining Engineering, University of Pretoria)</b>]]> Contrary to the way it is often portrayed, the average organization or company is far from being a cold, calculating machine. It is actually a highly emotive place where interaction with people is a fundamental part of its ability to perform satisfactorily. The company, through its employers, expects employees, including new graduates, to have the ability to cope adequately with this emotive environment. The graduate is frequently unable to meet this expectation because he/she has not been developed to do so. Technical knowledge is his only asset. This deficiency manifests itself in leadership shortcomings, both intrapersonal and interpersonal. Further analysis reveals a deficiency in three elements of leadership - self-awareness, oral communication, and an ability to work cooperatively in teams. To address these three elements of leadership, Sasol Coal, a subsidiary of the big petrochemical company in South Africa, sponsored a leadership programme at the University of Pretoria for their final-year bursary students in the faculty of Engineering. This programme, the Sasol Engineering and Leadership Academy (SELA), consisted of a number of interventions designed to address the three areas of self-awareness, oral communication, and cooperative behaviour in teams. These interventions varied from an intrapersonal nature to interpersonal aspects. Psychometric assessments were followed by experiential modules dealing with the three constructs. SELA was evaluated at the end of the year. The results showed a positive shift in the main constructs of self-awareness, communications, and cooperation. This was measured quantitatively and qualitatively. Conclusions were drawn and recommendations for improving the programme were proposed. <![CDATA[<b>Mine disaster and mine rescue training courses in modern academic mining engineering programmes</b>]]> The mining industry worldwide is currently facing a significant restructuring process. In most underground mines, widespread mechanization of the mining processes increases production while reducing staff numbers. At the same time, mining depths as well as the lateral spread of the mine workings are increasing. This ever-changing mining environment requires sophisticated solutions for the design and operation of underground mines. In fact, a reduced number of mining engineers is taking responsibility for ever-increasing mine operations. This applies not only to the excavation of the minerals, but also to all other aspects of the mining operation, including health and safety, disaster management, and mine rescue organization. Most mining engineering graduates entering the industry lack experience in mine emergency management. Young engineer trainees must learn mine emergency management and rescue work in addition to their normal training experience on the job. Often, and unfortunately, emergency and rescue training at different mining companies is not carried out to the highest level and standard and with the best possible training outcomes. The tasks and challenges a young engineer faces while being trained in a new position do not leave much room for additional training in mine rescue and emergency management. At the same time, experienced, 'old hands' are retiring and cannot easily be replaced due to limited graduation numbers. Strategies are being developed at mining universities worldwide to train mining engineering students in handling mine emergency situations and to provide hands-on experience for managing potential accident and disaster scenarios underground. Two of these strategies, from the USA and from Central Europe, are presented in this paper. These specific strategies have to be seen under special consideration of the local and regional boundary conditions, but might serve as case studies for mining schools and universities in other countries. <![CDATA[<b>New systems for geological modelling - black box or best practice?</b>]]> A 'geologically constrained' orebody model has long been hailed as vital for a Mineral Resource statement that is compliant with the South African Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (SAMREC Code). In this paper, the requirements for geological modelling as contained in the outline for the SAMREC Code are considered, and whether the new modelling software available on the market is a 'black box' or is better for modelling than traditional methods of wireframe creation. Implicit geological modelling is a technique that uses a radial basis function to establish and update geological models relatively quickly and efficiently from borehole data, outcrop data, manually interpreted vertical or horizontal sections, and structural data. Assays and any coded drill-hole data, such as lithology and alteration, can be interpolated. Leapfrog Geo software is an example of this new approach to geological modelling. A case study of a short training course in geological modelling for non-geologists at the University of Witwatersrand, as part of the Higher Certificate in Mineral Resource Management, is presented. The benefits of this type of geological modelling software are considered for this type of assignment as well as for mining industry applications. The use of geological models in mine planning is reviewed and a case study is presented comparing the variations in mine plan design and financial output of 13 final-year Mine Design projects from the University of the Witwatersrand School of Mining Engineering. These designs were all based on the same geological model created in the traditional way, and yet the resultant mine designs were significantly different, with very different resulting financial outlooks for the project. This raises questions as to how significant a very detailed model in the pre-feasibility and feasibility phases of projects really is, considering the huge costs involved in gathering the required data to build a SAMREC-compliant geological model. <![CDATA[<b>Modelling and determining the technical efficiency of a surface coal mine supply chain</b>]]> Determining the efficiency of a surface coal mine operation is an essential activity, which can help in deciding on the optimal use of input resources, including effective capital allocation, in generating a desired quantity of coal of a specific quality. Mines operate today in challenging conditions, with diminishing reserves of high-quality coal, remote location of new coal deposits, infrastructure problems, environmental legislation, and the effects of climate. All these have an impact on the performance of a mine. Given such challenges, a company has to be technically efficient compared to other existing coal producers in order to generate profits. It can use the measurement of its efficiency to evaluate its productivity, benchmarking this against the best-performing mines and determining optimal variables in order to minimize slack and achieve the desired outputs. This paper discusses the use of Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) in evaluating the efficiency of a surface coal mine supply chain for the coal export market. The supply chain is considered to be composed of sub-processes that are modelled as a multistage system. Numeric examples will be used to illustrate the application of DEA. <![CDATA[<b>Can artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic be integrated into virtual reality applications in mining?</b>]]> The University of New South Wales (UNSW Australia) has been a world leader in the development of innovative virtual reality technologies over the last 15 years. AVIE (Advanced Visualisation and Interactive Environment) was developed by iCinema as a collaborative venture between UNSW's Faculties of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts. This is the world's first 360°-surround, virtual reality (VR) stereo projection theatre system. The School of Mining Engineering at UNSW Australia has developed 18 different virtual reality modules aimed at mine safety training and mining engineering education. These modules are being regularly used in both the mining industry and the university. The School of Mining Engineering is continuously involved in the development of different modules. Research is also currently being conducted on the implementation of other technologies into this environment. Artificial intelligence (AI) and fuzzy logic are tools that the authors would like to consider implementing in future module development. This paper will review current research in both these areas and consider options for applying these technologies. <![CDATA[<b>Key performance indicators - a tool to assess ICT applications in underground coal mines</b>]]> Implementing new technologies in industrial operations entails the challenge of measuring the improvements gained by the applied technology. Nevertheless, it is absolutely essential to assess the technical and economic benefits in objective and comprehensible numbers to create a platform for further management decisions. Underground coal mines are characterized by numerous, quite complex procedures which make it difficult to determine the specific economic benefit of a new machine, technique, or method. In the OPTI-MINE Project funded by the European Union's RFCS programme, five underground coal mines applied the latest information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve efficiency, mine safety, occupational health, and environmental impacts. An integral part of the project is the assessment of these technologies by using key performance indicators (KPIs). The paper will describe some examples of the selected KPIs and the preliminary findings. <![CDATA[<b>Geomechanics challenges of contemporary deep mining: a suggested model for increasing future mining safety and productivity</b>]]> This paper pays tribute to the pioneers in geomechanics, and addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time related to deep mining, and how to mitigate these issues. Solutions developed by our predecessors seem to have reached their limits as mines continue to go deeper. The International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) guidelines for rock mass characterization for excavation design also require re-thinking to reflect current knowledge and experience. Thus, a whole new approach is urgently required to increase mine safety and productivity. The paper will draw on the challenges and experiences in medicine and science that have been overcome through genuine collaboration, advances in technology, and impressive funding, which can be adopted to provide solutions to contemporary geomechanics challenges for increased safety and productivity as mines continue to go deeper. <![CDATA[<b>Efficient use of energy in the ventilation and cooling of mines</b>]]> Escalating energy and electricity costs have become one of the largest drivers of expenditure in mining operations. Over the last eight years, energy costs have tripled when expressed as a percentage of total expenses in South African mines. In an effort to manage and reduce electricity costs, energy management strategies can be developed, inefficient operating units replaced, and the operation of energy-consuming components of ventilation systems optimized. Power consumption on mines is controlled mainly by three strategies, namely load clipping, by which energy use is reduced for certain parts of the day; load shifting, by which energy use is shifted to other parts of the day; and energy efficiency, by which energy use is reduced permanently. In this paper several projects that were implemented using the first two strategies of load clipping and load shifting are investigated. The actual and potential savings that can be achieved by implementing such energy-saving interventions are presented. To reduce the operating costs of ventilating and cooling underground mines permanently, system optimization studies must be completed. Methods that can be used to reduce energy usage by optimizing cooling and ventilation systems are described, and network simulation models that accurately reflect the current and planned ventilation conditions are discussed. These models are then used to examine various options for improving the overall ventilation and cooling strategy. Different optimization scenarios can be simulated, and this assists the design engineer in obtaining the most energy-efficient system that will satisfy design workplace conditions. The final outcome is a reduction in operating costs, which can result in better operating margins and an extension of the life of mine. <![CDATA[<b>Mining off-Earth minerals: a long-term play?</b>]]> The Moon, asteroids, and planets of the solar system represent the most distant caches of wealth that humanity has ever considered recovering. Yet, in addition to the potentially recoverable values represented there, harvesting off-Earth resources has a second, almost incalculable sustainable benefit in that they can be retrieved with absolutely no damage to Earth. Previous research mostly assessed the potential of asteroids and the Moon for mining purposes from a theoretical and scientific point of view. These studies investigated drawbacks that could be experienced in this type of operation, but no detailed economic evaluation that is meaningful for mining project management has been conducted and the parameters that are most likely to make an operation feasible are unknown. This paper provides a preliminary economic and sensitivity analysis of a possible off-Earth mining business extracting minerals from an existing asteroid. <![CDATA[<b>The presence of shear stresses in pillars and the effect on factor of safety in a room-and-pillar layout</b>]]> Since the dawn of mining, pillars have been used as primary support to ensure stable workings. Early designs were based on trial and error, after which more scientific means developed over time. A vast amount of progress has been made, especially in soft-rock room-and-pillar design methodologies, from which hard-rock design theories developed with minor changes to constant parameter values. The commonly used Hedley and Grant method for hard rock and Salamon and Munro methodology for soft rock draw on the tributary area associated with the pillar, the width-to-height ratio of the pillar, and a back-analysed strength reduction factor. In these methods, only the vertical stress, or stress normal to the pillar influences the load applied to the pillar. This investigation considers the possible influence of shear stresses on pillars in a room-and-pillar layout in single reef planes and multi-reef environments, based on elastic numerical modelling methods. The possible shear stress poses a safety and financial risk to the design process, whereby an undersized pillar would lead to unstable working conditions, whereas oversized pillars could lead to an under-utilized ore resource. <![CDATA[<b>Interventions for ensuring sustainability of the minerals education programmes at the Polytechnic of Namibia</b>]]> The mining industry worldwide is facing a tremendous shortage of minerals engineers in all fields of specialization. For instance, in Australia the skills shortage in the mining industry has been identified as one of the top risks facing the mining industry. In Namibia most minerals engineers employed are expatriates, with some being Namibians who studied abroad. The minerals engineering programmes at the Polytechnic of Namibia are still in their infancy. These programmes were designed to meet the mining industry skills needs. Being young has its advantages in that lessons can be learnt from older minerals education institutions that went through similar challenges. However, this does not imply just copying and implementing their approaches, since the context differs and, to ensure sustainability of the minerals education programmes, curricula have to be customized to the local context. This paper reviews the interventions made by the Polytechnic of Namibia in order to ensure the sustainability of its minerals education programmes. The methodology consisted of an extensive literature review, a status quo analysis of the mining and process engineering department, identifying the gaps between the current state and desired state, and mapping the goals and strategic actions required to progress to the desired state. The following factors were identified as major threats to the sustainability of minerals education at the Polytechnic of Namibia: the quality of students, low student enrolment rates, low pass rates in science and mathematics, shortage of academic staff, dwindling government funding, and limited involvement of the mining industry. The major outcomes of this research comprise the detailed strategic actions employed by the Polytechnic of Namibia to address the threats to sustainability of its minerals education programmes. <![CDATA[<b>Development of an atmospheric data-management system for underground coal mines</b>]]> With increasing demand for real-time monitoring of mine parameters, the requirement for appropriate data management in many mining applications is also increasing. This includes atmospheric monitoring in underground coal and metal mines. Although a number of different (real-time) monitoring systems have been installed in underground mines, they all typically share the same systems or sub-systems, where each sub-system may include both custom hardware and/or software components. In addition, monitoring components installed in underground coal mines in the USA should also be intrinsically safe and approved by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration. Real-time analysis adds complexity to the system since data validation and storage should be completed independently of filtering, data reduction operations, or visualization. Real-time processing may include statistical evaluation, trending, cross-correlation, and real-time alarm or warning generation. This paper presents the concept and design of an integrated system under development for atmospheric monitoring in US coal mines.