noelInterview questions

Full Name

Noel Delphin Fernandes


Group Rock Engineering Manager

Company/ Organisations

Impala Platinum Mines

Date and Place of Birth

1961/12/24 Virginia OVS


Barberton High School

First Job

Onsetter School Holidays, Electrical Apprenticeship Sheba Gold Mine in Barberton, then started as a learner official mining at Buffelsfontein Gold Mine.

Personal Best Achievement/s

Establishing a great rock engineering department which has stayed together for so many years. When rock engineers were travelling around following all the best paid jobs the Impala team stayed together. We fight a lot but all for the right reasons.

Philosophy of Life

If you don’t like it don’t do it. Life is too short to do something you don’t like to do.

Favourite Food/Drink

Typically porra, perri perri prawns and Coke

Favourite Sport

To watch Rugby and Athletics and did karate for many years. Now I get “milt steek” watching sport on TV.

Philosophy of Life: If you don’t like it don’t do it.
Life is too short to do something you don’t like to do.


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

Started as a learner official mining 1983 and joined rock engineering in 1985 as an observer.

2. Why did you choose Rock Engineering?

Did not have the “balls” to do mining and asked for a transfer to rock engineering.

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

Not a nice story to tell but let me give it a shot. I was asked to leave the apprenticeship training facility at Anglovaal because of an argument with my trainer Mr Murning. Fortunately there was a vacancy for a mining learner official at Buffeltsfontein Gold Mine Gencor. Did not enjoy production and got into trouble for always arguing with my line management, was then transferred to the rock engineering department and have never looked back. Left Buffelsfontein Gold Mine in 1989 to join Vaal Reefs as an SCO, then joined Bafokeng South Platinum Mine (Impala Platinum) as a Rock Engineer stayed with them until 1996, joined Rustenburg Platinum from June 1996 to December 1997 and then returned to Impala Platinum end of 1997. Was appointed as the Rock Engineering Manager for Impala in March 1999 and was appointed Group Rock Engineering Manager for Implats in 2008.

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

Firstly a lot of people have passed their rock engineering certificate lately and been pushed into rock engineering positions without the necessary experience, but this is a South African problem and we see it happening in the mining fraternity as well. Secondly the youngsters are getting involved with the setting of the examinations and practical exams. I believe here we lose a lot of the practical, hands-on issues that don’t get mentored to the newer generation. We need to blame the older generations as we don’t want to get involved enough and it will be nice to see them getting more involved again. Thirdly because the rock engineering fraternity is used by management and to a small degree the DMR to act as “policemen” to measure compliance, it is now becoming the responsibility of the rock engineering department to insure compliance. Compliance needs to stay the responsibility of line management.

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

Historically Rock Engineering departments were small, but are getting larger and one will need to learn the skill to work with people.

“Surround yourself with people with different skills and people you can trust.” 


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

Be honest with yourself and with management, never shy away from telling the truth. It will at times cause constellation, remember rock engineers will never win a popularity contest with line management.

7. Who is your role model/ mentor?

I have been very fortunate to have worked with great leaders in the rock engineering. The first to come to mind is Roger More-O-Farrell, he was phenomenal with the rock engineering principles and he has the ability to surround himself with strong rock engineers who understood mining as well as rock engineering. In mining I worked for Senior Managers who were outstanding in their jobs such as John Smithies and Pieter Anderson but I must mention Mr Paul Visser who helped develop my management skills on how to get the job done and to trust the people working with me. Lastly Tinus Gericke has brought back the passion for the “job”.

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

The best advice I have ever been given was “Surround yourself with people with different skills and people you can trust.” I have been blessed to be surrounded with great hard working people of whom many have better skills than I have.

9. Who has influenced my life the most?

It might sound cliché my wife Anrea has really turned my life around, taught me to be more patient and caring. My team will testament to that, they say I have changed a lot and for the better. My daughters, they keep my feet on the ground, ready to tell me if I have messed things up.