PositionIT Inbox, September 2014

September 10th, 2014, Published in Articles: PositionIT

 

This month’s letters focus on the multiple appointment of mine surveyors. Send your letters to: positionit@ee.co.za

Our winning letter

re: Multiple appointments of mine surveyors

Dear Editor

I have with interest read the article by Alex Bals in PositionIT July 2014 pg. 6. It has become highly noticeable that there is shortage of mine surveyors in the country as more people choose to study either Mine Engineering or Geology and it serious concern when Mine Surveying Certificates are being issued at that lowest level per annum.

The fact is the surveying profession has been dealt a major blow in recent years as the introduction of technology came into the frame.

There has been interest in floor crossing from land surveyors to the mine surveying discipline. Is this helping the situation? If it does help, how is it being done correctly and are there any results or research done on those who crossed the floor and their performance in mine surveying?

Kamela Glenn

PositionIT-123-09-2014-sept-2014

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Editor’s note: Kamela Glenn’s letter was forwarded to Alex Bals. His response is published below.

Technology has indeed changed the shape of surveying and our collective challenge is to change our workflows to best leverage its benefits. Unfortunately this means that we need to redesign the way we perform work, and reskill our surveyors, and this change process is sometimes not well anticipated, planned, or executed. Clearly, we need to learn to do this better.

At the height of the mining boom around 2007-8 the mining industry definitely saw the attraction of land surveyors into mining as a way to overcome capacity gaps. Since then the demand for mine surveying skills has cooled down and this initiative has not been followed through to a sustained process. Certainly there is, not yet, a formalised conversion process, and generally individuals must make their own way.

Fortunately though we have had a fair number of precedents of land surveyors transitioning into mine surveying, and I don’t know of any one of them who did not make a success of it. Not all become production mine surveyors, and many develop into niche roles, however all have ended up adding value to the mine surveying profession, with a few individuals now occupying the highest roles in the mine surveying profession.

In short, land and mine surveyors share many skills and provided that individuals are prepared to embrace the context and practices of the mining industry, a transition is not only possible but also attractive to all parties.

Alex Bals

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re: Multiple appointments of mine surveyors

Dear Editor

I fully agree with Alex Bals that the multiple appointments of mine surveyors is a risky business (as published in the July issue of PositionIT, page 6) however in the coal mining industry, this might be the future of how the managers or owners will structure their business model going ahead.

I have noticed that most of these small scale miners are mining on bulk sampling or 5 ha mining permits. In terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA), they still need to comply with all appointments required by law. This bulk sampling or permits can be mined in less than six months and therefore they will not keep a permanent appointment for these mines due to the duration of these permits. Maybe if this can be brought forward as future topic.

Enoch Molefe

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Editor’s note: Enoch Molefe’s letter was forwarded to Alex Bals. His response is published below.

Mr. Molefe is absolutely right. However, in terms of the MHSA, exemptions to regulations can be granted if deemed unduly onerous, provided that a suitable risk assessment was done, to the satisfaction of the authorities (Department of Mineral Resources). The article questions whether due process is always followed, in which case risk is introduced.

Alex Bals

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