The Mandela Mining Precinct’s inaugural virtual symposium took place on 21 to 22 June 2021. The two-day online event took place under the theme: “Beneficiating three years’ of research, development and innovation”, in celebration of the Precinct’s third anniversary since its launch in 2018.
“The timing of this event is perfect because we have some highlights to be excited about,” said Dr Phil Mjwara, Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) Director-General in his keynote address, highlighting the important role the Precinct continues to play in ensuring that the sector is modernised; the Precinct-developed national Platinum Group Metals (PGM) and Gold (Au) resource atlas, the launch of the Technology Availability and Readiness Atlas, the progress made in the Isidingo Drill Design challenge, and the visual positioning system intended to prevent fatalities underground.
In his welcome remarks, Minerals Council CEO, Roger Baxter applauded the Precinct for pursuing collaborative research, development and innovation (RDI): “We are an industry that sees enormous benefit when collaborating. The Mandela Mining Precinct is the largest Public-Private Partnership of its kind, and serves as a model for much greater collaboration,” he said adding that the contributions from the Precinct’s partners have been game changing, already evident in the three short years.
CSIR CEO, Dr Thulani Dlamini echoed Baxter’s sentiments, adding that the Precinct is a very unique and strategic Public-Private Partnership. “Over the last three years, the Precinct has delivered on the much-needed RDI required to make the mining industry a sunrise industry again,” he said, commending the Precinct for its collaborations with industry in ensuring the relevance of solutions for potential uptake.
The two-day event was aimed at not only showcasing the research-driven solutions developed by the Precinct, but also the interlinkages between the research programmes that have enhanced research outcomes to drive industry uptake from all perspectives and particularly the people-factors.
Highlights from the Mandela Mining Precinct’s first virtual symposium
The virtual exhibition
While online events such as these have the benefit of reaching a wider audience, it presents a missed opportunity to showcase technologies and solutions. A series of 360 degree videos were developed showcasing the various solutions developed over the last three years.
An underground test facility
Mandela Mining Precinct Programme Manager responsible for setting up an underground test facility, Jurgens Visser introduced the concept of an underground test facility, illustrating how it will benefit and fast-track the modernization of the industry. A video was also developed, highlighting the advantages such a facility will hold for South Africa and the region.
Panel discussion: Re-imagining mining through accelerated mining innovation capacity building
Minerals Council Executive: Modernisation and Safety, Sietse van der Woude led a panel discussion focusing on the mining research capability and capacity in South Africa. The last two decades saw the capability and capacity of mining RDI in South Africa being eroded, and what is now required is an “accelerated and transformative capacity building programme to build a new generation of innovators that can restore South Africa to the position of global leader in mining RDI”, he said.
Launch of the national Au and PGM resource atlas
Led by Mandela Mining Precinct programme manager responsible for the Advanced Orebody Knowledge, Michelle Pienaar, the groundbreaking Atlas was formally launched and opened to the public to interact with. The Atlas, which is an online hosted portal, allows users to download customized maps pointing to the location of Au and PGM orebodies in South Africa.