andreasInterview questions

Full Name:

Andreas (Andre) Petrus Esterhuizen


Rock Engineering Manager - Eastern Bushveld

Company/ Organisations:

I am employed byOpen House Management Solutions, and I am a member of SANIRE and SIAMM

Date and Place of Birth:

I was born in Klerksdorp on 14 April 1981 – the same day as the Lincoln assassination and the day the Titanic struck the ice berg. (Apparently not the luckiest day of the year?)


After a brief stint at university I obtained my COM Strata Control and Rock Engineering Certificates. Following that, I obtained an Advanced Rock Engineering Certificate from Wits.

First Job:

Computer programmer for a company focused on modernising the agricultural sector.

Personal Best Achievement/s:

Professionally- to date the quality and success of the rock engineering function at Two Rivers Platinum mine, which has since become leading practise, is something that I am very proud off. As with everything, I can’t take all the credit for the success of the system, but I played a large part in the early development.

Personally, I hold black belts in three different styles of Karate and represented South -Africa internationally.

Philosophy of Life:

The saying “You don’t find yourself, you create yourself” comes to mind. I firmly believe that we are not born for a specific purpose, but that our lives obtain meaning through what we do and how we affect world and those around us.

Favourite Food/Drink:

I love shepherd’s pie and pasta and a good red wine.

Favourite Sport:

I am an avid Sharks rugby supporter and enjoy boxing and all forms of martial arts.

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

I started off working in the Seismology Department at Harties in 2001, which lasted for 8 months. The following year I transferred to the Rock Engineering Department and obtained my SCO ticket. I was transferred to Two Rivers Platinum near Lydenburg in 2005, where I obtained my Rock Engineering Certificate and AREC. I am currently managing the largest department (by number of employee) within OHMS, and I am responsible for on-site contractual as well as consulting services for mines situated within Mpumalanga, Limpopo and most recently also Zambia.

‘Never present problems without solutions.’ 

2. Why did you choose Rock Engineering?

What attracted me most in the beginning of my career was the opportunity to work in a young developing field of science. I love to read and research just about anything in an effort to continually better myself and my general knowledge, and this field suited my personality perfectly. There are no quick fixes, in order to be successful you must have a passion for understanding what you see around you, and aim to find practical solutions to real problems.

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

I started off in OHMS’s Seismology Department as a Seismic Processor at Harties. During this period I was exposed to- and became interested in Rock Engineering, as both departments were managed by our company. When a vacancy opened up in the Rock Engineering Department I requested to be transferred and became a Learner Strata Control Officer. I obtained my SCO ticket 4 months later. After that I was transferred to the Eastern Bushveld where I matured into a qualified Rock Engineering Manager. I have been very fortunate in my career to date to be associated with both fantastic Rock Engineers and Mine Managers who had significant influences on my career.

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

The level of competence within the fraternity is definitely increasing and we are producing competent engineers. However, I recently became aware of the fact that most rock engineers have very limited exposure. Whilst they might be experts on their specific mines and environments, they falter as soon as their environments change. This leads to complacency and stagnation. I am in favour of a system whereby all qualified rock engineers are required to refresh their qualification on a set and regular basis.  

On the flip side, the level of competence in the mining industry – especially on the production front, is decreasing rapidly. This results in rock engineers spending more time policing, and less time on actual design work, which obviously influences job satisfaction.

"Philosophy of Life: The saying “You don’t find yourself, you create yourself” comes to mind. I firmly believe that we are not born for a specific purpose, but that our lives obtain meaning through what we do and how we affect the world and those around us.”


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

As mining continues to advance deeper and deeper, we need to obtain a better understanding of rock mass behaviour to stress. Stable pillar design also has a lot of room for improvement. As a gadget lover, I would love to see more research and the introduction of more electronic technologies such as digital image processing, pattern recognition and more sophisticated means of measurement.

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

Unfortunately there are no shortcuts. Work hard, be meticulous, and be interested in what you do. My three favourite quotes are:

  1. You are the product of your environment, so choose carefully the environment that will best develop you toward your objective.
  2. Never present problems without solutions.
  3. You don’t always get what you deserve, but you always get what you work for.

7. Who is your role model/ mentor?

I have a lot of role models. There are many of my friends, family members, colleges and even subordinates that I look up to and who’s opinion I regard very highly.

My mentor, and without doubt the largest influence in my professional career, is Koos Bosman, who has instilled in me a deep love of rock engineering, research, knowledge and red wine.

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

Distinguish between what is important and what is urgent” and my favourite: “Own your mistakes, and then move on”.