Full Name: Dewald Adriaan Wynand Lamprecht

Position: Unit Manager Rock Engineer

Company/ Organisations: Sibanye-Stillwater – Driefontein BU1 (1# & 6#)

Date and Place of Birth: 17 October 1986, Randfontein


First Job: Top Vending – Driver

Personal Best Achievement/s: Obtaining my Rock Engineering Certificate

Philosophy of Life: Never judge anyone; you never know what they went through in life.

Favourite Food/Drink: Medium rib eye steak with mash and vegetables, together with and a glass of wine.

Never judge anyone; you never know what they went through in life.

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

In 2007, I was appointed as a Strata Control Observer at Gold Fields. In 2012, SibanyeGold was unbundled from Gold Fields and was recently renamed Sibanye-Stillwater. Though the name has changed a few times over the past ten years, the rocks are still the same, and I am no longer just observing them. I have been appointed as a Unit Manager Rock Engineer for Driefontein Business Unit 1 (1# & 6#).

Why did you choose Rock Engineering?

I’d like to claim being a genius in choosing this line of work some 10 years ago, but I simply believe that God guided me into a professional career where I can give guidance and make a positive difference, investing back into the mining industry and its people.

Please tell us a bit more about your career journey?

Youth allows for one to take on any challenge. In October 2007, I started out as a Strata Control Observer on Kloof 7#, do-ing scale-support audits after underground visits on a daily basis. I quickly figured this was not the “challenge” I thought it might be, and though I dreaded the idea of going back to the books again, I started studying towards my Strata Control Certif-icate and passed that in 2008, when I was also appointment as a Strata Control Officer. So, I had the papers and lined up a better challenge, but needed more experience. I moved numerous times between the shafts on Kloof division where I gained lots of experience in different mining types: Reef types, Shallow and Deep ground conditions, and particularly also learning how to work with different people.

In 2012 while working on Kloof 4#, Alan, Ivan and I decided to start a study group where we could challenge each other and learn together and from each other. I passed my practical exam and also received appointment as Unit Manager Rock Engi-neer in 2015, only to quickly realise this was not going to be any “walk in the park”. I had to deal with a fatal accident the day after my appointment. Nothing like being “dropped in the deep end”, and since February 2016, I have also been given the add-ed responsibility of Driefontein 6#. No doubt, I will keep learning, keep developing and keep putting back into the industry and the people that make all this possible for my family and me.

In the mining setup, it is very easy to be a slacker. If you want to get ahead, be prepared to constantly do your best, even if no one is watching over you or patting you on the back. Finally, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, stop and find some-thing else!

What are some areas that you believe will become of increasing importance in the near future of the Rock Engineering discipline?

The big, easy, mining blocks are becoming less of the norm. As we get to the ends of our mines, more and more pillar extrac-tion areas will simply have to be mined. These areas offer increased opportunity to combine mine or mine area design and layout with a more intimate knowledge of the seismic character of the rocks we mine. Crucial in this future, challenging min-ing scenario, will be the behaviour of our people. I really think that training, coaching and adjusting the behaviour of people and their mind-set towards mining will be crucially important in maintaining the viability of getting to every last bit in a safe and profitable way. Rock engineering is a science and we can do the calculations on sci-fi mining ideas, such a core cutting machine mining or the like, but given our narrow mining width. I believe the human element will always be critical to our suc-cess. If people see and experience Rock Engineers as being the ones who keep them safe, who secure their jobs, who keep the mining company alive, who need to be listened to, and whose advice needs to be taken seriously, then we will have achieved a major breakthrough, in my opinion.

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

I always tell people to study hard. Start somewhere, even if it is by simply picking up and reading a book. Combined with this, is the need or the hunger to gain experience – learn to do the hard yards before trying to tell others to do it! Self-discipline, together with a willingness to be the least, to be the one that gets pushed into the worst conditions, is important. This builds not only your character but adds an automatic level of respect – you’re not just a pen-pusher or number crunch-er trying to make people’s lives difficult; you know what you are doing, why you are doing it and you know how this will impact upon the people. Without this experience, you will never be able to convey these crucial insights to people in a way that will make them accept and execute in trust.

In the mining setup, it is very easy to be a slacker. If you want to get ahead, be prepared to constantly do your best, even if no one is watching over you or patting you on the back. Finally, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, stop and find some-thing else!

Who is your role model / mentor?

Growing up in a mining community, with my father being a Rigger-Ropesman Foreman working most weekends, I always admired him for never complaining, leaving or staying at home when life got tough. He taught me a lot about having pride in one’s work, about realising that you were put here in this position with a calling to do well – to be a light in the dark.

I don’t want to put any name down for a specific role model in my career path, but every Rock Engineer that has crossed my path with guidance, advice, training and telling success stories has been and continues to be a role model to me. My cur-rent mentor is Jerry Wienand, who has helped me to stay on the right track with peer reviews, mentor agreements, cross auditing, and helping with preparation work on the crucial shaft pillar extraction we will be doing in the near future.
Finally, and I know this may sound strange, but one of the best mentors in my life has been failure. I don’t like failing, but when I make a mistake, I make a point of learning never to repeat it.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Life is tough, but it is exactly these challenges that build us into the characters that we are. Never give up, make time for your family and for yourself, and see every ROCK in your way as an opportunity to grow, to get stronger. LIFE IS SHORT, ENJOY IT BUT KNOW THAT THERE IS AN EVEN BETTER ETERNITY AFTER THIS. Pick up the ROCKS in your way and throw them into your small pond of life – breath deep, and take time to watch the beautiful ripples it makes.