Professor Bryan Watson has been appointed associate professor in the School of Mining Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).
He has been an adjunct professor at the school since July 2016 and brings extensive experience in mining research and development, mining operations, numerical modelling, instrumentation and laboratory testing.
Among his qualifications is a PhD from Wits, a work which was voted the world’s second best doctoral thesis on rock engineering in 2011.
A winner of the innovators award from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Watson has researched and written prolifically on rock mechanics – with 18 major research reports, 13 journal publications and 14 conference papers.
He began his career with Anglo American Prospecting Services, in Vereeniging, as a field officer, moving on to become an assistant rock mechanics officer in Witbank for Amcoal Research and Development.
He then worked for the Chamber of Mines Research Organisation – later CSIR Miningtek – where his focus moved to the geomechanical testing of hard rock and also the monitoring of rock mass behaviour around shallow and intermediate-depth platinum mines.
As senior researcher at CSIR Natural Resources and the Environment, Professor Watson then spent almost five years proposing and leading multimillion-rand projects in diverse disciplines such as numerical modelling, geology, instrumentation and rock mass rating systems; the unit also implemented and managed underground instrumentation programmes.
He was chief rock engineer at Gold Fields’ Driefontein mine, in Carletonville, going on to become unit manager rock engineering at the company’s South Deep mine, in Westonaria, where he managed the rock engineering and seismic departments, designing and implementing new mine layouts, monitoring systems and appropriate support requirements.
Professor Watson has been an external consultant to global engineers and scientists SRK Consulting since 2016, and holds professional membership of the South African National Institute of Rock Engineers, the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the North American Rock Mechanics Society.