We are pleased to announce the launch of SIMRAC project SIM100301 entitled “Minimising the increasing seismic risk in the platinum sector”. The project was awarded to SiM and collaborating agencies to investigate the factors contributing to seismicity and to rockbursting in the Western Bushveld region. This one-year project is designed to produce six deliverables:

Dear Members

The South African mining industry has recently been subject to a spate of rock related fatal accidents that have been highly publicised in the media (television and newspapers). It is understandable and unavoidable that members within our fraternity discuss and pass opinion on the circumstances surrounding these incidents.

It is though unethical that we pass opinion on the incidents in such a manner that it creates an impression that the opinion is factual and additionally could be used out of context. We as members of SANIRE must be fully aware that the circumstances surrounding these incidents are subject to the legal process and ill founded opinions may have a bearing on the perception and outcomes of these incidents.

We draw your attention to the SANIRE Code of Conduct and urge our members to exercise caution or refrain/restrain themselves from passing possible misdirected opinion on these incidents and to let the legislated and legal process run its course.

Thanking you.

Mr. Jacques Lucas

President, SANIRE

Please click on image to download flyer.


In September 2011, Slope Stability 2011 will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This Symposium, The International Symposium on Rock Slope Stability in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering will be held from the 18 – 21st September, 2011.


2010 Mine Site Safety using Slope Stability Radar - Workshop and Training

facilitated by Dr Neil Harries (Groundprobe Australia)

10 - 13 August 2010

Magaliespark, Hartebeespoort

Following numerous request it appears as if there is a need to hold a SCO practical. Lonmin has  planned to host a practical on the 15th of July. Please let Michael Michael.DuPlessis@lonmin.com know if you have, or are, a candidate who is interested in attending.

Growing numbers of rock engineers from diverse backgrounds are joining Sanire. Some interesting demographics are emerging, which Trevor Rangasamy shared with RockTalk. Here’s your chance to dig into the stats.

The membership numbers of the South African National Institute of Rock Engineers (Sanire) has reached unprecedented totals for the 2010 financial year and stands at 406. This includes all categories of membership. Sanire has added 98 new members in the past 11 months.

Associate membership has grown by far the most, as has been the case for the past two years. Trevor provides graphs showing historic total membership numbers and the trend in membership numbers per category.membergraph1



Rock engineers come from diverse backgrounds and do not all have the same qualifications before they become rock engineers. The pie chart showing how many members have various qualifications for the past ten years uses a sample population of 172 members. About 55% of Sanire’s members have either worked or obtained qualifications in mining engineering. Quite rightly, 32% of Sanire’s members have a geological background.


People may be surprised to hear that only 59% of Sanire’s members work for mining houses. Trevor’s graph showing which kinds of organisations employ Sanire members also shows that roughly 28% work for consulting companies (28%). The number employed in the supply industry (7%) has remained virtually constant over the past decade. The past five years have shown a notable decline in the number of members who are classed as researchers (5%).


Staying home

Contrary to common belief, a look at a 2010 snapshot of the distribution of Sanire members by country shows that 85% of members are still active in South Africa. Australia has attracted the most members outside South Africa, with 8% (about 35 members). In Trevor’s opinion, the main reasons for South African practitioners going to other countries are:

• the potential political risk associated with practicing in South Africa;

• better quality of life in other countries, mostly related to security;

• legislation related to broad-based black economic empowerment, which causes fears of stagnation because of a lack of promotion; and

• the perceived higher relative income.


An opportunity to deliver an enlightening talk proved to be an enlightening experience for Dr Francois Malan, who kindly prepared a report on the ISRM board lecture tour in South America for RockTalk. Read on to find out how he tried not to get lost in translation.

Truly international… Some of the ISRM board members posed for a photograph in Bogotá. They are, from left to right: Dr Tony Myers (Australia), Dr Francois Malan, Dr Nuno Grossmann (Portugal), Prof Abdolhadi Ghazvinian (Iran), an unknown student, Prof Álvaro J González (Colombia), an unknown student, Mrs Sofia Meess (ISRM Secretary), Prof Xia-Ting Feng (China) and Dr Luis Lamas (ISRM Secretary General)
“During February, I was very fortunate to be able to participate in a lecture tour organised by the International Society of Rock Mechanics (ISRM).

“The current President of the ISRM, Prof John Hudson, is driving a modernisation initiative to ensure that members will receive additional benefits from the society in future.

“A related initiative is to organise lecture tours, for which a number of experts are invited to give rock engineering presentations at academic and research institutes in a particular country.

“The South American recent lecture tour was arranged to coincide with the ISRM board meeting held in Bogotá. As all the board members had to be present for this meeting, it was logical to request each member also to prepare a presentation for use as part of the lecture tour.

“The lecture tour started on 9 February in Bogotá, Colombia, at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. The series of lectures was then repeated in Lima, Peru, at the Instituto de Ingenieros de Minas del Peru.

“Unfortunately, Prof Hudson contracted pneumonia in the UK and was not allowed to travel. His lectures therefore had to be presented by the ISRM secretary, Dr Lamas.

“I presented an overview of the design principles used in the deep and shallow hard rock tabular excavations in South Africa.

“The local population in both countries speaks Spanish and very few have a good command of the English language. This resulted in a rather amusing experience: all of the board members presented in English and a simultaneous translation into Spanish was provided by a translator.

“Question time was particularly challenging. The audience posed questions in Spanish. The presenters had to listen to the English translation, then answer the questions. The answers were then translated to Spanish again.

“This illustrated that one should never take the value of good communication for granted. Apparently the translators had a really tough time, especially with the Chinese and Afrikaans accents!

“In Peru, a mine tour was arranged for the board members to give us insight into the mining problems experienced in this country. The mine visited was a copper/zinc operation.

“Logistics are problematic for many of these mines as they are located high up in the Andes. After we traveled for 200 km along the coastal highway, a winding dirt road had to be followed for 60 km to reach the mine. As no safety barriers are installed at the edges of this dirt road, the steep slopes of the Andes looked very menacing indeed. The speed limit is only 30 km/hour on this particular road!

“The mine is nevertheless a very modern mechanised sub-level stoping operation. Its biggest problem is pumping the entire mine’s water supply from a desalination plant at the coast over a distance of 60 km to an altitude of 2 000 m.

“The lecture tour gave me a wonderful opportunity to experience South America in a unique way (not too many tourists going to Bogotá!) and to witness the typical problems of a mining operation in the Andes.”


Rock Talk has come to hear of the following appointments. Congratulations to those whose contribution to the profession is being recognised.

obedObed Tsetsewa of X-Strata Alloys was promoted to senior rock engineer.

If you know of a Sanire member who has been promoted, received accolades or appointed to a new position at a new company, please let us know.


John Napier has chalked up another achievement – an honorary professorship at a US university.

minnesotaJohn Napier has been appointed an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Minnesota University.

John initially trained as a chemical engineer at the University of the Witwatersrand, graduating with a BSc in 1967. He completed his MSc in chemical engineering at the same institution in 1971 and PhD in the Department of Mining Engineering there in 1980.

Most of John’s career was completed at the Chamber of Mines Research Organisation (Comro). He received a lifetime achievement award from Sanire in 2005.

His appointment to Adjunct Professor is a temporary appointment until 2013 and is an honorary (non-tenure) position. It will enable him to participate formally in the supervision of post-graduate students and to interact with faculty members.

John’s research interests have included the computational simulation of fracture propagation near the edges of deep-level mine excavations and rock fracture creep using displacement discontinuity boundary element methods.

His recent research activity has concentrated on the development of a computer program to analyse shallow-depth tabular mine problems (TEXAN) and attempts to develop displacement discontinuity methods to simulate three-dimensional fracture growth with application to hydraulic fracturing, mixed mode fracture propagation and dynamic rock fracture processes near mine excavations.

The 2010 symposium will be hosted by the North West branch on the 14th of October 2010. The theme is shake rattle and roll. All enquiries should be sent to Michelle Rodel at mrodel@anglogoldashanti.com you can download the flyer here.

Unfortunately, in the current financial year (ending 30 June 2010) only about two thirds of full members paid their fees. Now, there are only a few weeks left and we ask for your cooperation in improving the institute’s financial health.

If youare not sure as to whether you have already paid please contact Charlotte on (057) 231 2226 or send an e-mail to info@sanire.co.za. You may visit the shop (here) and pay by credit card, or pay directly into SANIRE’s bank account. Remember to send proof of payment.

For its administrative functions SANIRE requires funding, mainly derived from member fees which contribute around 60% to the 2010 budget. A portion of the membership fees is used to ensure that every SANIRE member is also a member of the ISRM, with the accompanying benefits.

Remember that members are responsible for their fees, even if the employer pays for you, it is up to you to follow up and ensure this is done.

New helmet stickers are available to purchase from the SANIRE shop they cost R25 and this includes postage.



A Short Description of the Rock Mechanics Textbook

The planned rock mechanics textbook is a synthesis of 22 classic texts on rock mechanics, solid mechanics, the author’s 15 years’ experience in rock mechanics in the gold mining industry, and 10 years as a professor at the University of Pretoria (1984-2009). Throughout this period, the author noted that all the introductory texts on stress and strain were incomplete in one way or another, and that this, together with the watered-down introductions to stress and strain currently accepted in the mining rock mechanics fraternity, forms a barrier to the rest of rock mechanics.


The MHSC has over the years produced a number of very useful reports and booklets. Although these booklets have been available to download for some time now, a number of people still either don’t know of their existence or where to find them. I would recommend that all Rock Engineers and Students make use of this valuable resource which the MHSC provides for free.


Download these very useful booklets here

You are still in time to register for the 2nd ISRM Annual Field Trip, which takes place in June 2010 on the two days immediately before the EUROCK2010 Symposium. The Field Trip starts and finishes in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The field trip leader is Christophe Bonnard of the EPFL, where he is in charge of the group Natural Hazard Assessment of the Soil Mechanics Laboratory and Member of the Board of Directors of the Soil and the Rock Mechanics Laboratories. He is a Lecturer of the Doctoral Program Environment at the EPFL and at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Geneva (post-graduate course on Study and Management of Geological Risks).
The 1st day includes visits to a motorway anchored wall, landslide sites, molasse outcrops and cliffs, as well as visits to the Fribourg and Gruyères towns and castles. Dinner and overnight will be in Gruyères. On the 2nd day participants will visit a cheese cave, rock outcrops, an arch dam and a rock fall zone, a quarry and the Chillon castle.
Click here to download the Registration Form and the Payment Instructions.
Click here to download the details of the Field Trip visits and schedule.
Luís Lamas
Secretary General, ISRM

SANIRE now has a Presence on the Linkedin network. For those of you who are part if this network you can now add SANIRE to your portfolio.



The challenges facing rock engineers inspired Sanire President Jacques Lucas to tweak Winston Churchill’s famous Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat speech. Read more to find out why there is simply no surrender if you are a rock engineer.

Fair treatment and safety were the two issues uppermost in Sanire President Jacques Lucas’s mind as he started his presidential address at the recent Sanire annual general meeting (AGM).

He rephrased Winston Churchill’s famous Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat speech, giving the Sanire version as:
“We shall fight them in the raises
We shall fight them in the ends
We shall fight them in the stopes
We shall fight them on the slopes.
But we shall never surrender!

Safety first
Jacques also quoted statistics from Bloomberg and Mining Web, which illustrated that mine safety is still a major concern, even though mine related deaths are reducing.

The recent earthquake in Haiti shocked the world. Friedemann Essrich looked into what caused it, what it was like, and how the methods used to measure it compared with methods used in South African mines. Read some of his findings here.

The M=7.0 earthquake that rocked Haiti on 12 January may have caused as many as 230 000 casualties. It was associated with a transform fault, the most famous of which is probably the San Andreas fault system in California.

Every quarter, as part of the news letter, SANIRE is running a photography competition – the prize for the best photo and associated write-up is a digital camera. This is being done to generate interest in the news letter by allowing everyone a chance to contribute and to showcase the diversity of the operations, people and conditions that we work with. 

Two other important areas of the news letter that are largely dependant on your contributions are:

  1. The social news section (Hatches, Matches and Dispatches)which covers things like births, marriages and deaths, and
  2. The articles section, where we take an in-depth look at interesting and topical ideas and occurrences. The latest news letter has a very interesting piece on the Haitian earthquake by Friedemann Essrich.

 Photos, articles and news can be forwarded to info@sanire.co.za Good luck and happy snapping! As usual, I am available to answer questions on the forum or via Email.