Evolution of mine surveying discussed

March 5th, 2018, Published in Articles: PositionIT, Featured: PositionIT

The IMSSA Mpumalanga branch meeting took place at the Belle Doné Boutique and Spa in Witbank on 16 February 2018 and was attended by 72 members – notably younger attendees and presenters.

Dave Wilson from the University of Johannesburg underlined one of the problems affecting mine survey students, namely practical training, since big mining houses no longer have their own training programmes that assist students towards obtaining GCC and COM certificates. Today, students are seldom affiliated with mining houses while they study, and often struggle to get any practical onsite work experience – a prerequisite to completing their qualification. Since qualified surveyors are retiring at a faster rate than their replacements are qualifying, mining companies could face a serious skills problem in the near future, he said.

Johanna Maruma

Johanna Maruma

Thabang Matlala, the chairperson of the Mining Forum at UJ, and Johanna Maruma, chairperson of Women in Mining, co-presented “The future of mine surveying” and “Geomatics at an international level”. Their message was that mine surveyors must always be aware of and embrace new and changing techniques and technologies if the profession is to remain relevant in the future.

A second presentation was delivered by Enoch Molefe from Tembani Technical Services, who explained the various processes that aspiring miners face when applying for prospecting and/or mining rights and permits – processes which can be complex and time consuming.

Molefe’s presentation was followed by a demonstration of a new micro drone by Optron’s Henno Morkel. These small devices now come with direct geo-referenced lidar functionality. Their lightweight carbon fibre frames allow for flying times up to 45 minutes, Morkel explained, and their four large, slow-speed rotors lend them stability.

Representatives from the Tweefontein Colliery also spoke about the evolution of draughting of coal mine plans. Thanda Jiyane from the Glencore TOC coal mine concluded the meeting by posing the question: When is a shaft not a shaft? The question originated from a case where an entrance to the underground operations are from old opencast workings. The ramp into the pit was less than -5° inclination horizontally, thus not classifying under the definition of “shaft” as per the Mine Health and Safety Act – a situation that has reportedly become a point of contention for the regional DMR.

The next branch meeting in scheduled for May, with further details to be communicated closer to the time.