Virtual reality mine design centre backed, coal research needs blue-sky approach, ideas on breaking junior funding deadlock

31st January 2014

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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Mining has lagged the technological progress of other industries and new ways of mining are needed, which is why Kumba Iron Ore’s sponsoring of the development of Africa’s first virtual reality mine design centre at the University of Pretoria is featured on page 10 of this edition of Mining Weekly.

The R18.8-million design centre, which will be completed early next year, will have a simulator that casts three-dimensional images with cinematic clarity and sound effects.

It incorporates geological modelling, mineral extraction, mine planning and design and mining systems in a virtual environment, allowing students to integrate different conceptual and software modelling techniques.

Actual mining incidents are reconstructed in order to prevent their recurrence in the future.

Blue-sky research is needed to boost coal research in South Africa, a country that is heavily dependent on coal for electricity generation and even transport fuel.

Read on page 12 of this edition of Mining Weekly of a university professor identifying the lack of research students being the greatest problem facing coal researchers in South Africa – not funding.

It is reportedly not difficult to procure project funding for specifically applied research projects but the drawback is that research in coal is not popular enough to draw the necessary numbers of students to do the work.

While the perception is that the global coal industry is dying and has no future, the reality is that the world is poised to remain heavily dependent on coal well into the future.

Currently, South Africa’s coal research is focused on topics including dry beneficiation and fines dewatering.

Global project management services and equipment company Tenova Mining & Minerals is mulling ways of breaking the mine funding deadlock that is preventing promising junior projects from proceeding.

Read on page 11 of this edition of Mining Weekly of the group considering making use of its expertise and balance sheet to position juniors to fulfil most bank preconditions and to assist them in raising bank finance.

By catalysing juniors and banks to work together again, the company is hopeful that, by the time the upturn comes, “some of these mines might be up and running and generating cash”.

To watch the video on this interview, scan the barcode on page 11 with TagReader (at on your cellphone, or go to ‘Multimedia’ and then ‘Video Clips’ at

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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