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Improving safety in mines through smart research and innovation

By June 30, 2024No Comments

Kholofelo Matsobane Mphahlele’s journey serves as a powerful testament to the impact of curiosity and determination. Hailing from the village of Ga-Mphahlele near Polokwane in Limpopo, Kholofelo’s early years were marked by a profound fascination with the natural world, providing the foundation for his eventual career in Geology.

Kholofelo began his educational journey at Mutle Primary School in Ga-Mphahlele. His family later moved to Randfontein in Gauteng, where he completed his primary education at Laerskool Westgold Primary School and went on to matriculate from Randfontein High School. Throughout these formative years, Kholofelo’s inquisitive nature was fuelled by a persistent question: “Why do mountains exhibit such diverse shapes and forms?”

Surrounded by diverse mountain landscapes in his village and later by the towering tailings in Randfontein, Kholofelo’s curiosity grew. His questions were partially answered during high school Geography classes, sparking a deeper interest that led him to pursue a degree in Geology at the University of Limpopo. There, he completed his Honours degree in Geology, solidifying his passion and knowledge in the field.

“After the completion of my studies, I was privileged to join the Mandela Mining Precinct in November 2022 as an intern for the Advance Orebody Knowledge (AOK) Research Programme, where I had the opportunity to partake in numerous educational and professional activities under the remarkable leadership and mentorship of Michelle Pienaar,” shares Kholofelo.

One of the most impactful experiences during his time at MMP was his first underground mine visit to the Maseve Mine. “This visit brought textbook knowledge to life, allowing me to witness geological structures firsthand,” he reflects. This marked the beginning of his explorations, as he went on to visit several other mines, including Harmony’s Tshepong, Kusasalethu, and The Great Noligwa mines, Impala’s 6 and 10 shafts, Goldfield’s South Deep, Anglo American’s Tumela Mine and Isibonelo Colliery, as well as Sibanye Stillwater’s Karee 4 and Bathopele Mine. “These experiences enriched my understanding of geology and mining operations, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the hosting mines and their dedication to education,” he acknowledges.

Kholofelo’s time at the MMP was marked by several memorable moments, including attending MMP’s 5-year anniversary event, the inaugural Presidential Science Technology and Innovation plenary, and the Minerals Council South Africa’s Day of Learning. These experiences were not only educational but also instilled in him the values of collaboration, integrity, and innovation—values that align perfectly with the EPIC values of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), where he is currently employed as a candidate researcher in the Mining Cluster. His focus is on improving safety in mines through smart research and innovation, with the ultimate goal of contributing to zero harm objectives in the South African mining industry.

As Youth Month celebrations draw to a close, Kholofelo’s story serves as a beacon of hope and motivation for young people everywhere, demonstrating that with curiosity, dedication, and the right opportunities, the sky is the limit.

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