The examination results for paper one has finally been released by UNISA.    

Subject                                   Pass rate
RMC Paper 1                          2%

The full list of results is available for download.  Click here to download.

The Rock Mechanic candidates’ examination results for the October 2011 examinations have been released by UNISA.   However paper one and the Strata Control results will only be released at a later stage due to unforeseen circumstances.

RMC Paper 2                          36%
RMC Paper 3.1                       22%
RMC Paper 3.2                       25%
RMC Paper 3.3                       25%
RMC Paper 3.4                       10%
Click here to download the list of results.

One of the most important and long-standing applications of tabular layout analysis programs based on the displacement discontinuity boundary element method (for example, MINSIM, MSCALC, MAP3D, TEXAN) is to determine average pillar stress values in narrow stope width excavations in coal, gold and platinum mines. One aspect of the use of these programs that is not always appreciated is that field point stress estimates will depend on the chosen element grid size when using constant strength displacement discontinuity elements.

Read more to find out about a simple extrapolation technique for the numerical estimation of average pillar stress values, as explained by John Napier and Francois Malan of the Department of Mining Engineering of the University of Pretoria.

Wits will no longer offer the Graduate Diploma in Engineering (GDE) after 2012. Read more to find out what your options are if you had a GDE in your sights.

The Strata Control Candidates’ exam results for the May 2011 exams have been released by UNISA. 

Congratulations to those candidates that passed, your hard work has paid off.

SCC Metalliferous           9%

SCC Coal                         12%

The full results are available to download here


The Rock Mechanic Candidates’ exam results for the May 2011 exams have been released by UNISA.   However the Strata Control Candidates’ exam results will only be released later this week due to unforeseen circumstances.

RMC Paper 1                        32%

RMC Paper 2                        21%

RMC Paper 3.1                    39%

RMC Paper 3.2                    63%

RMC Paper 3.3                    14%

RMC Paper 3.4                    25%

Click here to download the full list of results.

studentsfailThe pass rate for Paper 1 has been very poor for many years and questions have been asked of students as well as the examiners. Some common problems have been identified from the last five exams and Johan Hanekom, director of Middindi Consulting, explains what students can do to pass this paper.

Paper 1 ensures that the minimum theoretical knowledge that is required to perform the required rock engineering functions, are well understood by the student. It can not simply be ignored or rushed over, it requires a lot of studying to ensure that all concepts are well understood.

gasstorageMany SANIRE members who have done GDE courses at WITS will be familiar with this case study.  The project was the construction of an LPG storage cavern, consisting of four 14m span galleries, at a depth of about 150m, beneath the Botany Bay harbour, Sydney, Australia.

The owner had budgeted to spend US$100 million on the project, but the cost ended up at about $200 million.  The owner did not believe that the extra cost was his problem, so he sued the designers of the project.

Prof. Dick Stacey from the University of the Witwatersrand was involved in this project as an expert witness on behalf of the owner.  He tells us more…

Good news for all the students, the handbook on Rock Engineering Practice for tabular hardrock mines is now available as a six part download free of charge. SANIRE would like to thank the MHSC for allowing us to upload this book to the website.



The examination guidelines have been updated for 2011, the new guidelines are available to download here. The changes include what practical experience required for sitting for the COM examinations and the number of attempts that can be made at obtaining the SCO practical examination in a specific cycle.


 When mine open pits reach significant depths or are developed in high horizontal stress environments, the mechanics of their behaviour are not well handled by the commonly applied methods of slope stability analysis. In such cases, numerical models are required to reliably design pit slopes and estimate levels of instability. These methods, among offering many other benefits, can estimate deformations, one of the most commonly monitored aspects of slope

Establishing a formal system for the education and training of tomorrow’s rock engineers remains one of Sanire council’s focus areas. Like a rock rolling down a hill, the process is slowly gathering speed. Here’s a progress report:

Vusi Mabena, skills advisor at the Chamber of Mines, advised the industry during 2009 that the chamber wished to do away with Chamber of Mines Certificates of Competency for the rock engineering, ventilation and survey disciplines and move towards more formal educational qualifications.

Early in 2010, Mabena convened a steering committee to facilitate replacing the Chamber of Mines certificates of competency. The committee has representatives from the various technical disciplines (and their related professional bodies), the Chamber of Mines, the Mining Qualifications Authority and educational institutions.

The Chamber of Mines’ Rock Engineering Technical Committee has made a commitment to the development and implementation of a strategy to attract, train and retain rock engineering professionals in industry.

This commitment was made following the CEO roundtable and the tripartite summit on health and safety held in 2008, where various structures of the Chamber of Mines (CoM) considered the commitments that were agreed to in the Chamber’s Roadmap to Zero Harm.

The Rock Engineering Technical Committee concluded that the biggest current shortcoming was the availability of suitable training material for prospective rock engineers.

The committee recommended that suitable study modules be developed, that could be used by trainers both in the industry and at tertiary institutions to better prepare candidates for the CoM certificate in rock engineering.

An AfricaArray associate, Professor Steve Grand (Head of Geology at the University of Texas in Austin) will be visiting Wits on Monday 2 August.

Doing well in an exam takes more than just learning hard before the event. Good preparation in other areas can boost your results significantly. Read more to get some hints on how to be excellently prepared for your exams. A future article will give you hints on what to do once the paper is in front of you to optimise your performance.

Before you start

• Confirm the location of the exam venue, how long it takes to get there and allow for minor mishaps and traffic congestion in planning travelling time.

• Make sure you have a watch that can measure time in minutes – cell phones may not be permitted in the exam hall.

• Check that your calculator has fresh batteries and you have a spare set, that you have sufficient equipment such as pens, pencils, coloured pencils, highlighters, erasers, protractors, rulers, scale rules, and compasses.

• Use the toilet before you enter the exam room.

• Keep as calm and relaxed as possible. This will aid your recall of what you have studied. Avoid situations that will increase your already elevated level of stress. For example, do not discuss the work and the upcoming exam with your fellow candidates before entering the exam hall. Such discussions are not likely to improve your knowledge, but are likely to increase your anxiety.

• Your brain will require glucose or sugar to function properly. It is therefore advisable to increase your glucose intake before the exam and is generally not a bad idea to have a sweet snack to consume during the exam.

Allocate your time

• Aim for a pace that would enable you to complete a three-hour paper in two-and-a-half hours.

• Allow yourself 15 minutes to read the question paper carefully.

• Allocate the time per question according to the marks allocated to the question. Assuming a three-hour 100-mark exam (remember you allow yourself two-and-a-half hours or 150 minutes to complete the examination), 1½ minutes are allocated for every mark available.

• Allow yourself 15 minutes at the end of the exam to make sure that you’ve answered all the questions that were asked and to finish any questions not completed in the time you allowed yourself.

• After answering all the questions according to your schedule, you should now have 15 minutes plus any extra time you have saved. Use this time to:

- make sure that you’ve answered all the questions;

- complete any incomplete answers;

- check all formulae and calculations;

- add any additional information that you’ve subsequently recalled;

- check that you’ve answered the questions asked.

Bear in mind

Preparation pays – you should do some even during the exam itself. Here’s what to bear in mind:

• The results of a candidate with good subject knowledge but poor exam technique are seldom better than those of a candidate with slightly worse knowledge but excellent exam technique. In borderline cases, exam technique is invariably the differentiator between a pass and a fail. Watch out for a future Rock Talk article, which will give you more hints on exam technique.

• The examiner wants to test the candidates’ knowledge on the subject matter, not to trick them. Plan your answers so that you present your knowledge and understanding clearly.

• A neat and tidy exam script is likely to put the examiner in a positive frame of mind when he starts marking your answer. You are more likely to score top marks for neat, well constructed answers. This is especially true when answering essay questions.

• Don’t give long-winded answers with lots of irrelevant information. The examiner is looking for specific answers and battling through a mass of irrelevant information is not likely to prompt him to give you higher marks. More often than not, “waffle” will show your ignorance, lack of knowledge or misconceptions, rather than knowledge and understanding of the subject. Remember, the examiner is probably marking your script in his private time, for no remuneration. Do not waste his valuable time.

An examination preparation course will be presented by Dave Arnold from the 10 to 14 May 2010, based on the COM Strata control certificate.

The  nomination form and map to the Geostrat Training offices. The nomination form must be completed and return to

 Cost: R650.00 per person per day.

 If you need more information please let contact


certificatesealThere was a time when there was no such thing as an industry-accepted certificate of competency for rock mechanics practitioners. The Chamber of Mines Certificate in Rock Mechanics changed all that. Find out more about it here.

In the 70s, rock mechanics practitioners took steps to regulate and standardise rock mechanics practitioner competency. The result was the introduction of the Chamber of Mines Certificate in Rock Mechanics (COMCRM) to the South African mining industry.

Initially, the Rock Mechanics departments in the various mining houses developed Rock Mechanics Officers/Practitioners in-house. However, when these people wanted to move between mining houses, they could not produce an industry-accepted certificate of competency.  

The October exams went well, except for the SCO exam at Carletonville, which was dogged by administrative issues. Read about the results and solutions to the gremlins here.

Administration of the Chamber of Mines (COM) examinations for the October 2009 sitting went well, except for those at the Carletonville venue. That venue experienced serious problems with seating and the availability of papers.

The examination guidelines have been updated. This document covers the mandate, purpose, administration, chair, appointment of examiners and moderator, role of sponsor / mentor, administration, general rules and certificates of competency offered by the chamber of mines. Reading the guidelines will give a very good idea about how the exams are run and what they indented to achieve. The document is available to download at:

The Geostatistical Association of Southern Africa in conjunction with the School of Mining Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand is pleased to present a 5 day short course

anatoleFrench novelist Anatole France said, “An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't.” More about education…

Many members are waiting for the results of the Chamber of Mines (COM) exams that were written from 26 to 30 October.

“We will make every effort to make results available before the Christmas end-of-year break,” says Riaan Carstens, the Sanire board member responsible for education. “Please do not contact any of the Unisa staff. They are not allowed to communicate results to individual candidates.

“We will send you your results by e-mail and will also inform everyone if there are any problems that will affect the deadline.”

May exams

The May COM exams went very well, despite problems at the Pretoria Showground. This venue was removed from the list, which caused some confusion.

“We distributed the results to candidates before the 21 July deadline,” says Riaan.

The results were:



SCC Coal



































Exam rules

Sanire attended a meeting with Unisa and the chairs of the exam committees to standardise examination rules. Candidates can now request a remark at the same cost as the exam, currently R500, but will not be allowed to view their papers after an examination.

Adds Riaan, “Registration for October exams went well, but we still get candidates who wait until the last minute to register. We will post the registration forms for May 2010 exams on the website early in January. Pease make sure that you register in time.

“May you and your loved ones have a happy festive season and a prosperous 2010. If you are travelling during the holidays, please be careful on the roads and return safely.”

Watch the next issue of ROCKtalk for a report on the progress of a proposal for the development of course material for the COM certificates and the future of COM certificates.