It is with pleasure that we announce the results of the election for SANIRE council members for the period July 2013 to June 2015. The elected council members are as follows:
Despite being re-elected, Dave Arnold has announced his intention to step down as an elected council member in the interest of bringing "new blood" onto the council. Dave will however remain as a co-opted member of council. Robert Armstrong and Jody Thompson obtained (equally) the next highest number of votes, and so have both been elected to council.
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The South African National Institute of Rock Engineering wishes you a safe, happy and peaceful festive season.
Kindly note our offices will be closed as from 20 December 2012 and will re-open on 3 January 2013.
Needy Free State communities are 152 trees richer thanks to Sanire and Food and Trees for Africa. Read the details of this shady operation here.
Beneficiaries in Welkom who had applied to Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA) were delighted to receive a generous donation from Sanire.
Thirty-one of the indigenous trees Sanire donated were planted during a special ceremony at Moremaphofu Primary School in Thabong, Welkom on 26 September 2012.
FTFA Ecopreneur Mookho Letshokgohla delivered an environmental speech, explaining the benefits of trees and emphasising the importance of taking care of these precious gifts. Mookho planted one tree in front of the audience to demonstrate how to do it correctly. The rest of the trees were then planted by the learners, supervised by some of the educators.
Sanire Chairman Johan van der Merwe said: "We are also a non-profit organisation but we have decided that, from the little that we get, we must also give back to the community."
Thirty more trees were planted at Daluvuyo Public School, 31 at Bofihla Primary School, 30 at Thembekile Primary School, and 30 at Dr Mngoma Primary School, all in Welkom.
[photo credit] This photograph courtesy of http://bit.ly/PSjJj2, where more photographs of the event are also available for viewing.
Leadership, skills and engagement were the key themes during the MineSAFE 2012 Conference, held at Emperors Palace in early August. Jeane Matsobane, a Strata Control Officer from Anglo Platinum, received an award at the associated Industry Award Day and mentioned how the Rock Engineering Certificate Course has impacted her career. Find out more about the conference here.
The annual MineSAFE Conference was a major success, drawing more than 600 delegates over the two-day Technical Conference and about 870 guests for the Industry Award Day.
Held from 1-3 August 2012 at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg, this year's conference focused primarily on the Mining Charter, acting as a platform for learning and sharing solutions. Health and safety have been included in the Mining Charter since 2010 and is a priority for all stakeholders.
This was reflected in the overall tone of the conference, which saw a balance between technical solutions and human sciences and was most accurately summed up by Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu in her keynote address during the Industry Day: "Historically, the drive to improve mine health and safety was focused on improvements in engineering or design controls. An improved culture in health and safety matters is now recognised as the single most important factor – and indeed central – to achieving zero harm in the mining industry."
In support of this, key themes emerged throughout the conference – one of which was the important role that leadership plays in transforming the health and safety culture at the mine. David Msiza, Chief Inspector of Mines in the Department of Mineral Resources listed visible felt leadership as a key focus area for the department and Navin Singh indicated that leadership is one of the five pillars on which the Mine Health and Safety Council is focusing on during 2012. Leadership also frequently came up in during the various discussion sessions held throughout the conference.
Another key issue that emerged was that of building relationships through communication and engagement. Peter Bailey, Health and Safety National Chairperson of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) summed up the sentiments of workers when he said: "Nothing about us, without us," calling for greater engagement with union leaders when drawing up strategies and solutions.
Bailey further urged industry to learn from past mistakes in an effort to reduce repeat incidents and also raised concern about the secondary position health issues seem to take when it comes to zero harm efforts. Data on health issues, in particular, remained a challenge. "The Department of Health and the Department of Mineral Resources need to intervene to establish a centralised data point," he said, adding that this would help stakeholders to identify the full extent of the challenges posed by occupational diseases and to come up with effective strategies.
The discussions around engagement also extended to a national level, with all speakers expressing the importance of the tripartite alliance in the journey to zero harm.
Although the challenges represented by the enforcement of Section 54 instructions were recognised, both Xolile Mbonambi and Minister fiercely defended the work of the Mine Inspectorate, noting that the department remains unapologetic in its uncompromising stance on the health and safety of workers.
"We hope that the future will hold less Section 54s being issued, but this cannot come at the expense of the life of a mineworker," said Minister Shabangu. She urged all stakeholders to move away from issues of litigation and focus on working together to achieve the goal of zero harm.
The need for skills development was also a recurring theme throughout the conference, particularly the need to effectively train health and safety representatives. The Chamber of Mines has committed to training 40 000 new health and safety representatives and is making great strides in finding innovative methods to train employees in the workplace.
Skills development is also a key issue for Minister Shabangu, who made particular mention of Certificates of Competency and the need to make the industry more accessible to other sectors of the population, particularly women. In reference to women in mining, noted the increased presence of women at the MineSAFE Conference.
Recognition of the strides the industry has made in reducing injuries and incidents, various MineSAFE Awards were handed out during the Industry Day. The MineSAFE Awards are awarded based on the most improved Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate during the year.
For more information about the conference and a detailed list of the awards made, please visit www.saimm.co.za
|Rock Engineering certificate praised
Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu. She was particularly pleased to hand over a Merit Award to one of the women who had made a positive contribution to the mining industry. Jeane Matsobane, a Strata Control Officer from Anglo Platinum received the award from the Minister and spoke about the impact that the Rock Engineering Certificate Course has had on her career.
Sanire President Les Gardner sees both hope and destructive fury in the stormy state of the South African mining industry. He wishes you a peaceful break from the tumult and a revitalised return to the fray, ready grasp the opportunities that accompany adversity.
Dear Sanire colleagues
As I sit writing this year-end message, there is a thunderstorm raging outside. Nature is showing off all her tumultuous power – brilliant lightning flashes are interspersed with booming thunder as the rain pelts down, accompanied by the odd hailstone. Such a thunderstorm is perhaps an apt metaphor for describing the events that our mining industry has witnessed over the past year.
In his excellent keynote address at the recent Sanire symposium, Francois Malan reminded us that labour unrest is nothing new to the mining industry. Never before, though, has the discontent been so widespread, nor the potential ramifications – politically, economically and socially – so extensive. These events have shown that there have been shortcomings on the part of all involved; that in future other stakeholders will demand an increased share in the bounty provided by our mineral resources along with shareholders; and that some collective soul-searching is required if we wish our industry to prosper once again.
Nevertheless, in adversity there is also opportunity. In the drive to improve mine safety, productivity and cost-effectiveness, rock engineering must play a leading role. This challenge provides each of us with possibilities – to develop a new skill, to complete a challenging project, to research a favoured topic...
In the words of Eric Hoffer, an American social writer: "In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists."
In closing, I wish each of you a joyous and peaceful festive season. Spend some time with those dear to you, remembering that there are many who do not have that privilege. Return safely in 2013; older, wiser, and ready to take up the challenges of the new year.
Every now and then, mention is made of a shortage in rock engineering staff. Is it real or perceived? If it is real, what can be done to remedy it? Rock Talk polled a few Sanire members. Read on to share in their insights on this issue.
The response was unanimous. Every person polled agreed that there is a shortage of rock engineering staff. The respondents attributed the shortage to a combination of small factors. So, what are these factors?
The contributors mentioned most commonly were:
A number of solutions were suggested, with the strongest combined emphasis falling on the need for formal training and on-the-job mentoring.
One respondent jokingly said he had been unsuccessful in soliciting the services of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but more seriously suggested recruiting trainees with an appropriate tertiary education and making greater use of psychometric testing to select the best candidates.
Another went as far as to suggest that a structured one-year course with regular homework and examinations, possibly administered by a university, might improve matters. He also felt that a requirement to complete matric maths and science before trying to complete a rock engineering ticket might help.
Yet another stated the opinion that a return to a situation where there is the necessary time to develop people on the job is required, to make mentoring possible. Coursework is not enough. People need to learn how to apply what they learn.
Others concurred, with one respondent backing up his suggestion that bursary and trainee numbers should be increased with the observation that there would have to be support for trainees in terms of courses, time and guidance.
He also felt that broadening the definition of a rock engineering professional to include people with appropriate qualifications apart from the Chamber of Mines certificate and experience, in alignment with practice in most other countries, would relieve the staffing pressure in the industry.
A suggestion along similar lines from a different respondent suggested that developing a learnership pool of strata control officers could improve the quality of strata control officers and provide people who could be developed into strong rock engineers.
It was also pointed out that, in the view of one respondent, it would help if management could be educated as to the real role of the rock engineer on the shaft.
Most of the people polled were of the opinion that the training available to rock engineers in South Africa is of good quality. It was pointed out that South Africa is a world leader in rock engineering training and that the experience to be gained on our mines is among the best available, because the stresses and strains are real.
It was also noted that the more structured approach to training is paying off, but that candidates find it hard to balance work and family commitments with studying after hours.
Opinions on whether and how the role of the rock engineer had changed were mixed, but an observation that "the role probably remained the same but the pressures from the Department of Mineral Resources stoppages increased significantly" encapsulated the general view.
Several respondents also pointed out that more emphasis has been placed on the monitoring or policing side to ensure that line management complies with the rules.
It certainly seems to be generally agreed that the increased demands from internal and external stakeholders, combined with the lack of qualified staff, is resulting in an increase in stress for the person appointed as rock engineer. That is probably why the shortage of qualified rock engineers is so frequently discussed.
Kevin Riemer unexpectedly found himself headed for China to talk about seismicity. While he and his wife were there, they took in some of the sights. Here, he provides a peek into China's seismicity challenges, which prompted the forum to meet, his experiences at the summit, and some of interesting experiences he and his wife enjoyed.
While fingers have been intently pointed at the levels of safety in South African mines for the past 120 years, I read with dismay in the Citizen, 1 September 2012, that 41 miners had lost their lives in a mining accident in China the previous day.
Although difficult to confirm, unofficial figures currently put the death rate in Chinese mines at a level of about 2 500 per annum. This is close to an order of magnitude (power of ten) higher than current deaths in South African mines. It is also higher than it has been at any stage during the 120 year history of mining here in South Africa. Nevertheless I'm told that playing the numbers game can be a dangerous occupation, no doubt because there are always questions raised around the benefits of an exercise based solely on raw comparisons.
However, mining however is just one aspect of a significantly expanding Chinese economy at present. In terms of catering for its huge population – 1.7 billion – China is looking at the establishment of an infrastructure that will support its needs 20 to 25 years down the line. This is integrated through their 5 Year Plan and involves numerous significant projects, many of which are recognised for their astonishingly large scale.
An example that comes to mind is the recently completed Three Gorges Dam Project on the Yangtze River1. Nonetheless the current Chinese expansion does not only involve dams and hydro power stations – 120 under construction at present - but also encompasses roads and freeways, airports integrated with high speed train transport, water purification developments, shopping complexes and high density apartment blocks.
China is a vast territory with a high degree of variation in its physical conditions, with the result that construction of these projects takes place in a wide variety of geotechnical areas. The resulting geographical and geological complexities that are subsequently encountered introduce new challenges in the form of earth related hazards. Some of the more common trials encountered include large scale rock failures, rock falls, rockbursts and the undesirable ingress of water, which results in flooding.
The challenge for now, from an engineering perspective in China, is the need to understand the mechanisms and mitigate the risks related to these hazards. In the context of this strategy the Chinese authorities recently organised a forum aimed at promoting discussion around safety and these issues in particular. The gathering was scheduled for 18-19 May 2012 in the metropolis of Wuhan, capital city of the Hubei province in central China and situated on the Yangtze River. The forum was sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) and organised by a host of Chinese institutions2, including the Chinese Society for Rock Mechanics and Engineering. The theme adopted by the organisers and scheduled over two days was simple: "Safe Construction and Risk Management of Major Underground Engineering Projects".
Various speakers were invited to give keynote lectures including an international delegation of eight invited experts, including Nic Barton, John Hudson and Peter Kaiser. The second afternoon was devoted to a top level roundtable panel discussion aimed at developing Chinese science and technology strategies that could then be applied to underground engineering practices over the next 20 years3. The roundtable discussion proceedings were chaired jointly by Professors John Hudson and Qian Qihu.
The invitation for South African participation at this event came by way of a request from Xia-Ting Feng (ISRM President) to SANIRE through Jacques Lucas.
Much like the story of Alice falling down the rabbit hole and the excitement that followed, I soon found myself on board Cathay Pacific's CX 748 midday flight out of ORTI on 5th May 2012. I was routed to the East for Hong Kong armed with a presentation and a paper, co-authored with Ray Durrheim. The paper4, "Mining Seismicity in the Witwatersrand Basin: Monitoring, Mechanisms and Mitigation Strategies in Perspective", is scheduled for publication later this year in the English version of the Chinese Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (JRMGE).
The presentation to the forum comprised a modified edition of this paper proposing a ternary approach (monitoring, mechanisms and mitigation) as the best methodology for dealing with seismic related hazards and risks. The proposed ternary framework, with due reference to the strategy originally proposed by the DeepMine5 project in South Africa, was based on the familiar concept of ternary diagrams used in the field of geochemistry and the study of mineral systems. After all, this seemed to embrace the way developments in the seismic fraternity have unfolded on South African mines over the past 120 years, so why not share it with our academic colleagues in China?
The trip to Wuhan also provided the view to a thrill by way of a private agenda and some serious personal plans for 21 days of roaming the Land of the Dragon. Attending the engineering summit in Wuhan was pasted into the centre of the touring itinerary. The Dragon Tours schedule provided time to see something of this amazing land with a global waistline spanning about 60 degrees of longitude and a history vastly different to ours at the tip of Africa.
If, of course, you desire company and effective English verbal communication – besides that which the tour guides offer – then spouse accompaniment on this kind of mission to China is mandatory. Under these terms of reference the "Roamers" undertook a bit of a hectic lightning tour around the south-western portion of China, through to Wuhan and ending with a final phase that sampled the history in and around the capital city of Beijing. The list of magic moments – too extensive to do it justice here – included the metropolis of Shanghai; the stone forest world heritage site in the Kunming district; the karst mountains surrounding Yanshuo/Guilin; the awesome beauty and tranquillity of the Tibetan landscape around Lijiang and Shangri-La, and – let's not forget - the breath-taking scenery of the Tiger Leaping Gorge on the Jingshu/Yangtze river system. The last stop in Beijing provided an opportunity for a stroll on the "little stone fence" and a chance to shout over the parapets at the Mongols to the North. Needless to say, this provoked no response. Our photographs do not really do justice to the amazing experience we enjoyed while mixing it with the local populace.
After all is said and done, what did we get from the Chinese thrill that we could bring back to South Africa?
First place on the answer sheet must go to the fact that China is so huge and bustling with so many people – ear filters sometimes required - that I must constantly remind myself never again to moan about the crowds and traffic jams in Gauteng. With this comes the realisation that it must surely be hard to be lonely in China, but also possibly easy to become part of the furniture and just a photo for another ID book.
Secondly, I don't believe democracy could ever work in China – for now at least. If you had to take into account the myriad viewpoints and objections that normally arise each time a project is proposed as we are used to out in the West, then given the huge difference in populations, things would probably just never get done in China.
Thirdly the traffic is just so hectic and frightening that even riding a bicycle down the street makes you feel like you are on a suicide mission. Yet in all of this I never saw a dented car in all our travels around this land! Apparently eastern wisdom says that there are five things needed for a driving license in China. Besides the three year apprenticeship, you will also require, in no particular order of preference: a good car, good brakes, a good horn (hooter), a good windshield and plain good luck. Driving in China is accompanied by the constant triggering of hooters and the fashion in which vehicles merge and find their way around is something to behold.
Finally, the Chinese are a "happy people" and their hospitality is incredibly warm despite any preconceived perceptions people have about life in the People's Republic.
On the academic front, one can only admire the Chinese earth scientists and engineers for the enthusiasm they display in going about their work and the manner in which they are busy rising to the challenges. They have fervour that we in South Africa seem to be losing. Could it be the relative political stability of their environment compared with the volatility that we appear to be facing on all fronts? No matter, the name of the game in China seems very definitely to be one of survival through incredibly fierce competition.
While the food takes a little getting used to, if at any stage the stir fry option does become monotonous, the alternatives for so called "western food" - Big Mac burgers and Starbucks coffee - are never too far away. This was my experience in the big cities at least!
Would I go back to China? Imaginably this is the million dollar question. Perhaps my final answer would be "Yes", provided it could be under the same terms of reference as this recent adventure across the pond.
But who can tell, perhaps the expressed desire on the part of the Chines to introduce seismic monitoring into their mines by way of IMS systems may well open up some form of collaboration between our two countries. That being the case, maybe there will be no choice and I would lose the "phone a friend" option, in something much like the circumstances that dictated this recent visit. Maybe I wouldn't miss another offer for all the tea in China!
In the meantime, my thanks must go to the Chinese Academy of Engineering for reimbursing the cost of my travels to Hong Kong and for the accommodation during the stay in Wuhan. I am also deeply grateful to Jacques Lucas for his trust in me and to Gold Fields for affording me the time and opportunity to share a little of our South African mining history and seismicity with our academic colleagues in China.
I believe the equivalent Chinese thank you gesture here to all is both much shorter and simpler: just plain, "Xie Xie" (the audio equivalent is "share share")
|Initiation of proceedings for the international summit, Hongshan Hotel, Wuhan, 18 May2012.|
|The roundtable discussion following the international forum, Hongshan Hotel, Wuhan, 19 May 2012.|
|"Mining Seismicity,a Ternary Approach" busy rolling.|
|View of the karst topography and landscape at the "Stone Forest" world heritage site, Kunming district.|
|Song and dance auditions with the local angelic guardians of a Buddhist temple in the Lijiang area. (We never made it to the second round.)|
|The entrance to "Tiger Leaping Gorge" on the Jinsha River – Tributary of the upper Yangtze river north of Lijiang, Yunan.|
|Touring the historical sites and museums in Wuhan with Nic Barton, Peter Kaiser and our Chinese hosts.|
|We gotta get out of this place..." ; Walkabout in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (entrance in background) keeping a beady eye on the flag slot times.|
|The variance in the local cuisine at the meat market in Beijing......"walk on by".|
|Stunning view of the 2 km stroll on the "Little Fence" on the outskirts of Beijing.|
|Navigating the sites around Guilin. Bicycles are the best way to tour, as long as you have a bell, good brakes, a good wingman like Patty and a good tour guide like Emy!|
To download the 2012 Symposium presentations, follow this link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qsjgimzx5cxk0mh/YPK0kGHghl
It is with sadness that we mus inform you that Gloria Qwabe, a former employee of the Chamber of Mines, has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends and colleagues in this difficult time. We would also like to urge all candidats to refrain from sending any emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and rather direct all queries to Colin Anderson (the Manager of COM examinations) at email@example.com
It is with deep sadness that we must inform you that Gerhard Myburgh, a former SANIRE member, passed away on Sunday. Gerhard passed away while competing in the Karoo to Coast Mountain Bike race. Mountain Biking was one of Gerhard's passions and his favourite past time.
In rock engineering, Gerhard will be remembered for his contribution to the successful mining of the basal reefs at Tshepong mine using intricate undercutting mining procedures.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and colleagues in this difficult time.
The funeral service for Gerhard Myburgh will take place this Friday, 28th of September, 11:00 at the Lighuis Jesus Ministries church in Flamingo Park in Welkom.
24-04-1957 to 23-09-2012
Click on the following link to read the full ISRM newsletter: http://www.isrm.net/adm/newsletter/ver_html.php?id_newsletter=74&ver=1#report_eurock2012
Congratulations to Charlotte and Vlam. At 8:45 on Saturday morning small baby Kyle was born. From the SANIRE council we would like to congratulate Charlotte and Vlam with the new member to their family.
During May, Sanire council members attended Eurock 2012, the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) symposium held in Stockholm.
The Eurock 2012 symposium was attended by some 360 participants from 33 countries, with more than 150 oral and poster presentations.
The ISRM has grown rapidly and has reached an all-time high with 6 783 members from all over the world. The members are mainly centred in the 49 national groups, of which 40 were present in Stockholm.
Although the programme was very busy, with various presentations by the authors of papers and the ISRM commissions, there was some time to visit the sights of Stockholm.
|The ISRM awarded the Roche medal for the best PhD thesis worldwide during the Stockholm conference. South African Dr Bryan Watson was the runner-up.|
|The ISRM also commemorated its 50th anniversary at Eurock 2012, with the launch of a timeline presented in six posters and a book describing the activities of the society over the past 50 years.|
|Several South Africans and former South Africans presented at the Stockholm Conference. Here, Michael du Plessis from Lonmin presents his paper on crush pillars in the Bushveld complex, part of the work for his upcoming PhD thesis.|
|Some representatives of sunny South Africa brave -5°C to try an ice cold cocktail at the world-famous Ice Bar in Stockholm.|
|The Swedish Rock Engineering Research Foundation hosted a memorable gala dinner in the Vasa Museum.|
|Sanire President Les Gardner (far right) represented South Africa during the voting for the 2014 ISRM international conference. Japan won the vote narrowly.|
The ISRM symposium also hosted the annual ISRM Council and Board meetings, where Les Gardner represented the South Africa national group as Sanire President and Jacques Lucas represented the Africa region in his role as Vice-President: Africa.
Monitoring, Mechanisms and Mitigation Strategies in Perspective
This research paper traces the history of the approach to rockbursts and seismicity during the 120 year history of mining in the basin.
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Rock related safety is a major issue. The Chamber of Mines' Mine Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) initiative is helping to address it. Find out more by reading on.
In 2003, representatives of the South African Mining industry - employers, labour unions and government - set historic and significant milestones for health and safety, to be reached by 2013, en route to zero harm for all employees.
The Chamber of Mines realised that the milestones, let alone the targets, would not easily be met without significant effort on the part of mines. Therefore the Chamber of Mines Learning Hub was established and the Mine Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) process of adoption of leading practices (purposely not referred to as best practice) in the industry was established in 2008. The basis of the MOSH initiative is that excellent practices exist in the industry. Instead of each mine reinventing a practice, it would be quicker to find and document, and then share and adopt the practice with everyone in the industry.
The MOSH process involves identifying practices in the mining industry that are making a significant difference in health and safety on mines.
The mine that is using an identified leading practice is referred to as the source mine and the practice is documented there, including their approach to leadership behaviour (how leaders behave to reinforce desired behaviour or correct incorrect behaviour) and behavioural communications (how communications have been used to encourage the desired behaviours).
The Bushveld platinum group metal deposits are two distinct, shallow-dipping stratiform tabular ore bodies which strike for many hundreds of kilometres. Mining is extensive, with depths ranging from close-to-surface to 2300 m. The mining method is a variation of planar open stoping. Pillars are widely employed to support the open stopes. In the deeper levels, in-stope pillars are required to fail in a stable manner soon after being cut, and the residual pillar strength is used to stabilize the hangingwall. These pillars are commonly known as crush pillars. Little work has been done in the past to determine pillar peak and residual strengths, and pillars have been designed using experience and formulae developed for other hard-rock mines. This has led to over and undersize pillars with consequential loss of ore, pillar bursts and potential collapses. This paper describes a crush pillar design methodology, and provides design charts. Three mining environments were incorporated in the investigations, which included underground and laboratory measurements, analytical solutions, numerical models and back analyses. The results of the study are suitable for the areas where the research was carried out, and may also be applied with caution in other similar environments. Read the full paper here.
We wish all our members a safe and happy festive season, and best wishes for the New Year. May your New Year be filled with interesting events that take you, your colleagues and families to greater heights of achievement.
The SANIRE offices will be closed from 01:00pm on Friday, 23rd December 2011 and reopen on Monday, 16th January 2012
Sanire’s Back to Basics symposium was aimed at showing practically, through the presentation of case studies, how designs on different operations are developed and verified. It addressed the questions that have been raised as to the appropriateness of empirical designs, and rock engineering designs in general, following recent large collapses in the platinum mining industry. Get the lowdown here.