Closing date for Rock Mechanics practical examinations will be 15 January 2016 and NO late entries will be accepted.

SANIRE 2015 Seasons greetings

We wish you a joyous holiday season and all the best for 2016 from SANIRE



Please join us for our year end function next week Thursday 3 December at the Groundwork offices.

Time: 10:00 am for 10:30am

Technical Visit: Rope Testing 11:00am – 12:00pm

· We will be walking to the CSIR leaving at 10:45am sharp.

· Please bring a hardhat!!!

Technical Lecture: Tunnel Guard Thin Spray Liners – Oosie Oosthuizen 12:15pm – 12:45pm

· Join us in the Groundwork boardroom while the fire burns outside.

· View elongate tests at the Groundwork press.

Lunch /braai: Boerewors braai with drinks will follow at 1pm.

Please RSVP soonest for catering purposes.

If the numbers are too large, we will have to do attendance on a first come first serve basis.

Looking forward to ending off a tough year on a strong note as we look at ropes, elongate and thin spray liners.

Send response to if attending.

The SANIRE Coalfields Branch year end function will be 4 December 2015. Registration is at 8:30 during which morning tea and refreshments will be served. The registration fee is R150 per person. Sponsorship is welcomed.

For more information click Here

Contact person:

Sandor Petho


Dear Member

You are formally invited to the:
27 November 2015
Ruimsig Golf Club
8.30 am

This is a prestigious event that is attended by Rock Engineering Group heads, Rock Engineer Mangers, Rock Engineers and other members of the Rock Engineering fraternity from many different commodities and companies within South Africa. The AGM provides an overview of the SANIRE strategy for the next 2-5 years. We will also give recognition to outstanding commitment, contribution and achievement through the various award categories.

As a member you are invited to attend this event.

We will also be arranging a golfing event which will take place immediately after the AGM. For the interested "pro" or social golfers , please make sure you are included in the companies who will be participating in the various 4-balls.

Please RSVP to Carol Hunter

Before 18 November 2015 for catering purposes

For directions click Here

Dear Members
Please follow the link to the latest bi-annual newsletter. Stories and articles are always welcome. Please email Paul Couto at enquiries.

Download the PDF version: pdf  SANIRE Newsletter_Volume 1_Issue 3_November_2015 (5.19 MB)

Download the epub version: default  SANIRE Newsletter_Volume 1_Issue 3_November_2015 (10.93 MB)

pc1We are yet again entering difficult times in the mining industry. The commodity prices are low, the Department of Mineral Resources are relentless at issuing stoppages for non-compliance and companies are forced to restructure. Nevertheless, we as a fraternity endeavour to promote safety and cost saving initiatives to ensure that companies are less vulnerable to these external factors.

SANIRE as an institute can however not function without its members. We require active participation at all levels. As practitioners we are seen as an integral part of ensuring safety on our mines, albeit as policing function. However, in the absence of research facilities, mining groups and support manufacturers have taken the initiative to develop new technologies, leading practices or design methodologies. Although we as a technical discipline are not always recognised for our contributions, the mining industry is dependent on our actions in the workplace as well as our safety interventions which lead to new best practice initiatives. In challenging times we have the ability to do extraordinary things. As SANIRE Members and as Rock Engineers we need to brand ourselves and our discipline so that we can create a legacy.

In July 2015 a new SANIRE council was elected in vision of our 2020 strategy. Several additional portfolios were added. Our 5-year vision caters for changes in the legislation, the future of the Rock Engineering Certification and the needs of our members. The detail of the various portfolios will be presented at the AGM on 27 November 2015.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene

Michael du Plessis

The SANIRE Symposium of 2015, “unpacking the aspects”, was organised and held by the Free State Branch at Glenburn Lodge in Muldersdrift on the 17th of September 2015. It was a one-day symposium which covered a wide range of topics from all over the industry. Included was a Key Note Address by Les Gardner on the “proposed changes to the Fall of Ground Regulations and how it will impact on Rock Engineering and Strata Control”. The following topics were presented:

  • Comments on ISRM suggested Method for the Complete Stress-Strain Curve for Intact Rock in Uniaxial Compression: Uli Vogler – University of the Witwatersrand
  • The Use of Gem4D in the Representation of 3D Rock Engineering Data: Quintin Enslin – OpenHouse Management Solutions
  • Quantification of the Effects of Thin Spray-On Liner Application on Shotcrete Tensile Strength: Richard Masethe – Sibanye Gold
  • Design of a Pit-highwall in Highly Weathered Igneous Material: Franz Bruwer – Anglo Platinum
  • The Stress-strain Environment Around Massive Open Stopes and the Effect on Failure: Jaco le Roux – Brentley, Lucas & Associates
  • A Method to Assess Pillar Stability in Rustenburg Platinum Mines: Jacques Gerber & Richard Clark – Institute of Mine Seismology
  • The Potential to Use Mines for High Head Underground Pump Storage Schemes: Trevor Rangasamy – Middindi Consulting, & T Govender – Eskom
  • Back Analysis of the Pillar Design Employed at Impala 14 Shaft Trackless Mining Section: Buntu Tati – Impala Platinum
  • Introduction of the NEW Virtual Reality Centre at the University of Pretoria: Jannie Maritz – University of Pretoria
  • Stability Analysis of Coal Pillar Sidewalls Using Three-Dimensional Numerical: Joseph Muaka – SRK
  • The Influence of Regional Geology on UG2 Stope Stability: Alida Hartzenberg – Lonmin 
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The day was divided into three sessions, which were chaired in turn by Paul Couto, Jaco le Roux and Michael du Plessis. The symposium was a great success, being well organised and well attended. A special note of thanks goes to the organisers, attendees, presenters and sponsors. The following sponsors made contributions in funding the symposium:

  • OpenHouse Management Solutions
  • Groundwork
  • Brentley, Lucas and Associates
  • New Concept Mining
  • Bedrock
  • Timrite.
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The yearly function was host on the 24 July 2015 at the Red Barn Farm in Dullstroom. The event was well attended with approximately 75 people attending.

The day started off at the crack of dawn with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees and slightly overcast. This was fantastic weather for fly fishing. After a couple of old brown sherries to warm everyone up all the attendees headed out to one of four dams. The dams were sponsored by suppliers at R 3 000 per dam. SANIRE then utilised this sponsorship to stock the dams to the value of R 3 000 per dam. The dams were stocked with Rainbow trout, Brown trout and Golden trout all ranging in sizes. This was done for competitive reasons.

The competition commenced at 06:00 whereby it ended just before lunch 13:00. The competition was based on a few categories.

  1. The smallest fish of the day
  2. The largest fish of the day
  3. Golden trout (each dam had one Golden trout in it. If the Golden trout was caught then the winner would get the main prize for the dam sponsored by the suppliers)
  4. Brown trout (each dam had five Brown trout in it. If the Brown trout was caught then the winner would get a prize for the dam sponsored by the suppliers)

The winners were as follows:









DF MalanFull Name: Daniel Francois Malan

Position: Senior Rock Engineering Consultant, Part-time Professor

Company/Organisations: Sibanye Gold, University of Pretoria, University of the Witwatersrand

Date and Place of Birth: 4 November 1968, Bethlehem, Free State

Education: PhD (Mining), COM Rock Engineering Certificate

First Job: Chamber of Mines Research Organisation (COMRO)

Personal Best Achievement/s: ISRM Rocha Medal, Surviving a Fish River Canyon hike!

Philosophy of Life: Best summarised in the Gladiator movie: “What we do in life echoes in eternity”

Favourite Food/Drink: Red Wine, Roasted leg of lamb

Favourite Sport: Lifting weights in the gym

1. How did your career in the mining industry begin and where are you now?

COMRO gave me a bursary to study engineering and I joined them on a full-time basis in 1993. I am currently the Senior Rock Engineering Consultant at Sibanye Gold, but I also do part-time work at both Tuks and Wits where I supervise a number of postgraduate students.

2. Why did you choose Rock Engineering?

It was not really my choice, as the Chamber of Mines gave me a bursary to study electronic engineering, provided that I moved into rock engineering after completion of my studies. Of course, my plan at Varsity was never to move into rock engineering! Luckily, I started at COMRO when famous rock engineers, such as John Ryder, Tony Jager, John Napier and Steve Spottiswoode, were still walking the corridors. I immensely enjoyed interacting with these gentlemen and the rock engineering research we did. As a result, I have never looked back.

3. Please tell us a bit more about your career journey?

COMRO (it later became CSIR Miningtek) provided a good introduction to rock engineering and it gave me the opportunity to do a PhD. I eventually also became Programme Manager of the Rock Engineering Division there. The drawback of this academic environment was that the youngsters who started there never got enough experience “on the face”. Our ability to do research was also questioned by industry practitioners, as many of us never attempted the COM Rock Engineering Ticket examinations. This started to worry me and I joined Groundwork Consulting in 2004. There, I eventually passed my ticket (it took two attempts to pass the practical!). Groundwork taught me much about surviving as a consultant (not easy) and gave me wonderful exposure to platinum rock engineering. Gold Fields approached me in 2011 to join their ranks and this is how I ended up at Sibanye.

4. In your opinion, what are some of the challenges that the fraternity is currently facing?

A huge challenge we currently face is caused by the limitations of some of our design criteria. An example I can mention is the difficulty of designing bord and pillar layouts in areas where weak layers intersect the pillars. This has led to spectacular collapses in the recent past. Some of the criteria we use to design deep layouts in seismic areas can also be questioned. It is very disconcerting that no organised research is currently being conducted to improve these criteria. When Prof Nielen van der Merwe wrote his SAIMM paper on Coalbrook in 2006, he asked the question: “Is it conceivable that the most important lesson from Coalbrook, namely that in order to be effective at all, knowledge has to be generated before it is needed, was not learnt?”

A further challenge we face is the loss of expertise needed to write our own boundary element codes for solving tabular mining problems. South Africa was a leader in this field in the 1970s and 1980s. Sadly, we are now relying on imported codes.

Philosophy of Life: “What we do in life echoes in eternity”

5. What are some areas that you believe will become of increasing importance in the near future of the rock engineering discipline?

We are currently experiencing a low in the commodity cycle and the mines will probably struggle to remain profitable for the next few years. Our role to assist with the profitability of marginal mines will become much more important in future. Unfortunately, this will make our lives more difficult, as safety cannot be compromised in the process.

6. What advice would you offer people aspiring to be in your position?

Every career has its ups and downs. It is important to have a vision and then to persevere if things do not always go your way. Something that is also becoming increasingly important in modern society (and I still struggle with this) is to maintain balance in your life. Your family and fun activities are the treasures of life.

7. Who is your role model/mentor?

Prof John Napier has been my mentor since I joined COMRO as a student in 1987. I am fortunate to still interact with him, and his mathematical abilities and insight into rock engineering problems are simply awesome. In spite of his brilliance, he has always been a humble man. I have always admired this.

8. What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Dr Guner Gürtunca, Director of Miningtek, came into my office in 1995 and all he said was: “Tomorrow I want you to go to Wits and register for a PhD”. Up to that point, I was unsure whether I could successfully complete a PhD. The important lesson is not to fear failure if these opportunities come your way. I am still grateful to Guner for giving me this unsolicited “advice”.