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MMP advancing applied research

28th April 2023

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

     

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The Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP) has shifted its focus from an investment and research perspective and is now more focused on applied and longer-term research, as opposed to early-stage short-term research.

This allows the MMP to remain relevant and maintain industry support, ensuring that it delivers implementable solutions as far as possible, says MMP director Johan le Roux.

He elaborates that the research, development and innovation (RD&I) landscape in South Africa has changed over the years, though recently, there has been a “strong emphasis on re-establishing mining research, capacity and capability”.

The shift is supported by the establishment of four South African Mineral Extraction RD&I (Samerdi) research centres at the universities of Pretoria, Johannesburg, the Free State and the Witwatersrand.

The renewed focus on building the capacity for and capability in mining research is, therefore, spread over several institutions and requires more nuanced coordination, Le Roux notes, highlighting the importance of advancing education, training and innovation to transform the industry.

To contribute to this development, Le Roux explains that the MMP uses digitalisation as a management tool for planning and control; advanced orebody knowledge to enhance planning and safety; mechanisation to remove personnel from hazardous areas; and creates opportunities for the development of a secondary supply industry.

“Our Successful Application of Technologies Centred Around People (Satcap) programme takes a people-centric approach and addresses social aspects of modernisation to ensure the inclusion of mining communities and mineworkers,” he adds.

The Satcap programme seeks to gain an understanding of the challenges, effects and impacts of mining modernisation. This frames the Satcap research agenda, which seeks to develop the framework for a modern workforce for a modern mine.

However, the need to balance “quick wins” with longer-term strategies for promoting RD&I in the mining sector remains.

Le Roux notes that the MMP achieves this through its different research programmes, with the Longevity of Current Mines Programme dealing with the “quick wins” and the Mechanised Mining Systems taking a longer-term approach.

“The Samerdi research centres assist in building research capacity, but we are still facing limited resources and the need to coordinate work over several institutions.”

“[However] we have established a forum that will contribute to a more integrated approach to RD&I.”

 

Transformation in the electricity supply sector, decreasing the tolerance of hazards, the ever-advancing digital capacity, artificial intelligence and environmental, social and governance issues will be key focus points going forward, Le Roux concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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