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SATCAP Study Tours: Advancing Mining Modernisation in South Africa

By October 16, 2023No Comments

The Mandela Mining Precinct’s Successful Application of Technologies Centred Around People (SATCAP) programme has been conducting study tours from July – August to showcase cutting-edge mining technologies and practices in the mining industry.

“The Tours are meant to create an environment for stakeholders to gain awareness, understanding, and acceptance of mining modernisation,” says MP SATCAP Programme Manager, Sherin Ramparsad. “They are immersive and designed to allow participants to experience modern mining innovations firsthand. They also provide an opportunity for capacity building, networking, and collaboration, she adds.

The SATCAP study tours started at the University of Johannesburg’s mock mine. The tour took participants on a journey through a simulated mine, where they saw and experienced modern mining technologies in action. It included stops at a ventilation control room, a drill rig, and a continuous miner. Participants also learned about the safety and health protocols that are in place in modern mines. The tour included demonstrations of a variety of technologies, such as:

  • Simulated blasts
  • Remote sensing applications
  • Drone technologies

“The mock mine is an invaluable tool for our students,” said Professor Hendrik Grobler, Head of the Department of Mining Engineering and Mine Surveying at UJ. “It allows them to get hands-on experience in a safe and controlled environment. This gives them a real advantage when they start working in the real world,” he added.

The next stop for the SATCAP study tour was University of Witwatersrand (Wits) where young mining professionals got another opportunity to learn about the latest digital mining technologies and how they can be applied to their own operations. The tour included presentations from DigiMine Wits researchers, as well as hands-on demonstrations of the various digital mining technologies. “I was particularly impressed by the Digimine” Ahsan Mahboob Head of Sibanye-Still Water Digital mining laboratory said. “It allowed me to see how modern mining technologies can be used to improve safety, productivity, and environmental sustainability. DigiMine is a valuable experience for anyone interested in mining or digital technologies. It is a glimpse into the future of mining, where digital technologies are making mines safer, more productive, and more sustainable,” he said.

“Digimine is committed to supporting the adoption of mining technology,” said Dr Chipangamaten, SATCAP Post-Doctoral Fellow at Wits. “The collaboration with the study tours is one of key strategies used to raise awareness for the benefits of modernisation and to build capacity among stakeholders.

The tour at the University of Pretoria (UP) included visits to the university’s reality centre and its Centre for Mine Design and Development where the use of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies in the mining industry were explored. At the virtual reality centre, participants experienced simulated blasts, remote sensing applications, and the use of drone technologies. At the Centre for Mine Design and Development, participants learned about the use of Drones and robotics in mining.

Wessel Botha, Senior Consultant AT Enterprise University of Pretoria, said that the study tour was an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about the latest 4IR technologies that are being developed for the mining industry. “The mining industry is facing a number of challenges, including declining ore grades, rising costs, and a shortage of skilled workers,” he said. “4IR technologies offer the potential to address these challenges and help the mining industry to become more sustainable and productive,” added Botha.

Throughout the study tours, several important discussions surfaced, including the use of technology in mines where students and stakeholders engaged and discussed that despite the availability of these technologies, only a small percentage of mining companies have adopted them. This is due to a number of reasons such as fear of extra work, impact on production and lack of training involvement.

Participants made several suggestions to circumvent the lack of adoption, including providing training, demonstrating the benefits of new technologies to employees, overcoming resistance by addressing their concerns and providing them support needed to adopt new technologies.

“By taking these steps, mining companies can encourage the adoption of new technologies and help ensure the long-term growth of the industry,” Botha concluded.

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