Full Name: Heinrich Greeff
Position: Rock Engineer
Company/ Organisations: New Concept Mining
Date and Place of Birth: 23 September 1984, Parys (Freestate)
Education: Tertiary level Physics and Mathematics, Rock Engineering Certificate
First Job: Assistant Strata Control Officer at AngloGold Ashanti Moab Khotsong Mine
Personal Best Achievement/s: Still have to achieve something of note
Philosophy of Life: Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement – Jim Horning
Favourite Food/Drink: I think it's a tie between biltong and wine gums
Favourite Sport: Anything that takes you into nature
How did your career in the mining industry begin and where are you now?
I started working as an Assistant Strata Control Officer at AngloGold Ashanti on Moab Khotsong mine in 2009. Worked in the deep level gold mines till 2013 and then relocated to the diamond fields under De Beers Consolidated Mines. Currently working as a Rock Engineer for New Concept Mining.
Why did you choose Rock Engineering?
Lourens Scheepers came to recruit Physics students at the Northwest University in my final year of studying. His passion for the discipline was contagious and there was opportunity to further develop the science through research. I joined because I wanted to make a difference and be part of that development.
Please tell us a bit more about your career journey?
Most of my time in Rock Engineering was spent on deep level gold mines. I've learned to understand stress and rock movement there a lot better than I imagined to be possible anywhere else. I enjoyed linking theory and actuals and that made it apparent to me that there is room for improvement in our current understanding. Moving away from the gold mines to the diamond fields unearthed my understandings because all of the sudden stress was insignificant and gravity called the shots. Looking back over the few years I've been part of our fraternity, I am excited over what the future might hold.
In your opinion, what are some of the challenges that the fraternity is currently facing?
Our mines are some of the best laboratories (worldwide) for research and exploring our understanding of mining, however, the Rock Engineering guys on the mines are often consumed by the amount of paperwork that they are responsible for. This halts them from having the time and energy to explore and be creative in their understanding. It is a challenge to not let work obstruct you from doing your work...
What are some areas that you believe will become of increasing importance in the near future of the rock engineering discipline?
I believe that in future we will come to understand stress and rock movement better and that this will drastically change the way we perceive quasi static and dynamic events. I believe that Rheology will come into play and that there will be a distinction made between what portions of each occurrence was related to stress stimulus and what was just a result of rock mass movement.
What advice would you offer people aspiring to be in your position?
Don't take shortcuts, just study the entire syllabus – it's worth it.
Make time to look at and monitor the small things in your mining environment. Make time for those interesting trips just to remind you of how cool mining actually is.
Who is your role model/ mentor?
Johan Hanekom is my role model and I strive to have his understanding of physics, mathematics and how to apply this every day.
I have had many mentors through my career this far, but none as influential as Gary Williams. He forever changed the way I look at mining and the role we play in it.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
You have two ears, two hands and one mouth; use them in that ratio