Outstanding achievement for extraordinary professor in Mining Engineering

Posted on March 13, 2023

Prof Bharath Belle, an extraordinary professor in the University of Pretoria’s Department of Mining Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, has received the SME (USA) Howard L Hartman Award for outstanding contributions to mine ventilation engineering enhancing health and safety in underground mines. This award of the international Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) recognises distinguished contributions in practice, teaching or research in the field of underground ventilation engineering.

Prof Belle is principal engineering manager of Anglo American Coal Business in Australia. He has wide and in-depth global multicommodity (diamond, coal, platinum and gold) underground mining exposure. This entails 25 years’ experience in life-of-mine strategy and design, consultancy, and operational and project reviews of high-performance safe production environments. He has in-depth lead auditor experience of business and safety-critical governance and assurance risk reviews.

Dr Belle is a recognised deep technical expert on ventilation (that includes gas) engineering of very hot and highly gassy high-production underground mines. He has specialised knowledge of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), commonly known as black lung, and silicosis elimination, as well as class action litigations on mine dust lung disease (MDLD). He has been involved in major fire or explosion prevention risk owner and assurance reviews, and asset recovery operations, independent fatality and catastrophic event investigations, and ventilation air methane (VAM) monitoring and abatement projects.

He serves on various Australian and international industry and regulatory advisory and standard development committees, and is the past president of the Mine Ventilation Society of South Africa. He is the Chair of the International Mine Ventilation Committee, Technical Editor of AusIMM Vent Proceedings, and Organising Chair of the International Mine Ventilation Congress (IMVC) 2024 in Sydney. He assists as Chair of the Occupational Health and Safety Task Group, and serves in ventilation, gas and dust task groups, and as a member of the Underground Committee of the Australian Coal Association Research Programme (ACARP).

Prof Belle is a registered professional mining engineer, with an undergraduate and a master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate from the University of the Witwatersrand. He completed the Management Development Programme at the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Cambridge (UK), as well as the University of Queensland’s Sustainability Programme.

He serves as adjunct professor of Mining Engineering at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. As extraordinary professor in the University of Pretoria’s Department of Mining Engineering, he is able to share his expertise in mine ventilation engineering to enhance the Department’s research outputs.

- Author Janine Smit

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