Full name: Kevin Richard Brentley.

Position: Rock Engineer.

Company: Brentley, Lucas and Associates.

Organisations: SANIRE, ISRM, SAIMM.

Date and place of birth: 22 August 1960, Born in Johannesburg.

Education: Matriculated at Milner High School, Klerksdorp; MSc Engineering, Wits University.

First Job: Learner Official at Buffelsfontein Gold Mine. (Know of a few other learner officials who became rock engineers from the same period and stable – good times)

Personal Best Achievement/s: Eating “pap and gravy” for the first time at the age of 20, a few shaft pillar extraction and other designs, a few hair-raising mountain bike and canoeing expeditions, and starting a microbrewery with Jacques Lucas and Ben Regal.

Philosophy of life: If you work hard, there must always be time to play hard.

Favourite food/drink: Definitely not “pap and gravy”. A well-aged rump steak and a bottle of red wine.

Favourite sport: Mountain biking and watching 20/20 cricket.

If you work hard, there must always be time to play hard.

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

Started as a learner official on Buffelsfontein Gold Mine in January 1981. (One of the few English-speaking learner officials who did not play rugby). Was promoted to production shiftboss in 1983. In November 1985, realized that production was not for me and joined the Rock Mechanics Department on Buffels as a learner strata control officer. I obtained my COM Rock Engineering certificate in May 1986 and joined Elandsrand Gold Mine (Anglo American in those days) as a Rock Mechanics Officer. During 1988, moved back to work for Gencor at St Helena Gold mine as a senior Rock Engineer. Worked on most of Gencor’s mines in the Free State and ended up on Beatrix as the Rock Engineering Manager. In November 1995 I joined Harmony Gold Mining company as the Group Rock Engineer, after which in 1997 started Brentley, Lucas and Associates with Jacques Lucas.

Somewhere I found time to complete the COM advanced Rock Engineering certificate and a GDE in Mineral Economics, which was later converted to a Master’s in Engineering.

2. Why did you choose rock engineering?

I enjoy mining, but to put it bluntly, hated the production side. Had two options on the technical side, being rock engineering and ventilation. The rest is history.

3. Please tell us a bit more about you career journey.

I worked for and alongside some pioneers in the rock engineering field in the earlier days of my career. To name a few – Roger More O’Ferrall, Ben Kotze, Nielan Van Der Merwe, and the late Dave Ortlepp and Martin Pretorius. I have also worked with some interesting characters, but it would be wise to not mention names. For me as a person, rock engineering has changed dramatically over the past 10 to 30 years and this is what makes it “lekker”.

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

One of the major challenges at present is the lack of fundamental research and the funding thereof in the rock engineering field. There is some research on the go out there, but at the moment, it is fragmented and uncoordinated.

If you have money to pay a gardener, you are not spending enough on your mountain bike.

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

To ensure that the future younger rock engineering leaders/managers on the operations not only have proper technical skills, but are able to manage, communicate and lead from the front.

Find a way to solve the problem surrounding fundamental research, as mentioned in 4 above.

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

You need to understand your field of expertise well. Rock Engineering can sometimes be like a “selling game”. If you are not competent in your game, you could lose.

Ask questions. If you do not understand or know how to apply something, ASK.

7. Who is your role model/mentor?

This could be quite controversial – Lance Armstrong.

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

If you have money to pay a gardener, you are not spending enough on your mountain bike.