Mine surveyors discuss future of profession

March 15th, 2018, Published in Articles: PositionIT

Mine surveyors from the IMSSA North West branch gathered near Rustenburg for their first meeting of the year, at which they discussed changes that the profession is undergoing. High on the agenda were changes in qualifications, training and technologies.

This follows the discontinuation of the Chamber of Mines Certificate, with the last date for registration being 31 August 2018, and the last exams scheduled for October 2020. With no replacement programme in place, mine surveyor Sparrow van der Westhuizen and University of Johannesburg (UJ) lecturer Dave Wilson raised concerns about the career prospects of new recruits and how it could restrict their professional development without a clear path for progression.

As an immersive simulation technology, virtual reality can be useful in training applications.

As an immersive simulation technology, virtual reality can be useful in training applications.

Wilson also gave a brief update on UJ’s Bachelor of Mine Surveying degree, which enrolled its first class of 20 students in 2017, and had another 20 first year enrolments for 2018. The university hopes to have an honours degree programme in place by the time the first class reaches its final year.

The course takes on a more academic and theoretical, as opposed to practical training approach, and teaches a wide range of subjects, including physics and English. While some see this as introducing a gap between low-skill and high-skill recruits, others consider the courses to produce better-quality mine surveyors in the long run.

New and advanced technologies and approaches were also showcased by sponsors of the event, including VI Instruments, Premier Mapping and Dassault Systèmes.

Premier Mapping’s Robin Kock showed the value of an integrated survey approach which combine surveying technologies (aerial, UAV, 3D laser scanning, mobile mapping) to map different areas on a site in a single, comprehensive data model.

In showcasing VI Instruments’ product range, which include total stations and laser scanners, Johan Kok spoke of the company’s new premises of more than 30 000 m2 warehouse space, which can accommodate more product and spares, shorten waiting times for clients, and which features new and upgraded workshops.

3D technologies in the form of Dassault Systèmes’ 3D Experience Platform were also on show, complete with a practical virtual reality (VR) demo. The demo illustrated the simulation capacity of VR for training purposes. The day concluded with a presentation by the company’s Romany Grove, who showed how the company’s 3D platform builds on the design knowledge of several sectors in which it operates (including automotive and aerospace), and showed video demos of how the technology can be applied to mine survey and design.

A photo gallery of the event is available here.

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