Mining Resilience Research Centre (MRRC)

The Mining Resilience Research Centre (MRRC) was established in the Department of Mining Engineering in 2016 to develop significant interdisciplinary research collaboration within UP and external organisations involved in research related to mining challenges. This is in an effort to ensure that the mining industry meets the full expectations of investors, government, employees, organised labour, communities and other stakeholders in the mining industry, particularly within the context of the role played by the industry as a source of economic growth and social transformation.

The MRRC draws on the multidisciplinary resources within the University, matching the right skills sets to any mining problem. It also aims to strengthen the Department’s mining footprint, as well as the University’s national and international minerals research profile.

Its vision is to establish itself as a leading international contributor to solutions for complex problems in the mining industry.

Its mission is to increase the resilience of the mining industry by developing solutions that can be practically implemented so as to enable the mining industry to transition from being reactive and compliant, to becoming resilient in issues relating to productivity, safety, health, environment, social responsibility and community management, through well-structured and committed postgraduate education and rigorous, integrated, scientific research initiatives.

The following strategic goals structure its long-term trajectory:

  • Be a leading, research-intensive centre
  • Conduct relevant research, through the employment of a sound science and technology approach to generating solutions, continuously improving quality
  • Strengthen the centre’s national and international profile through the establishment of sound, sustain

Management and collaborative structure

The MRRC is located within the Department of Mining Engineering, with Prof Francois Malan as Director. It makes use of the expertise located within the Department, within other departments in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, within the Minerals Cluster departments (Ming Engineering, Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering, and Geology) and within departments in the University’s other nine faculties.

The Department’s in-house research expertise comprises the following:

It also benefits from the research expertise located in the Harmony Chair in Rock Engineering and Numerical Modelling, the AEL Intelligent Blasting Chair in Innovative Rock-breaking Technology and the Murray & Roberts Chair in Industry Leadership 4.0.

Within the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, it is able to utilise the expertise of researchers in the departments of the following schools (as well as their associated institutes, research chairs and research centres):

The Minerals Cluster departments include the following:

Within the rest of the University, it benefits from the expertise of researchers in the departments of the following faculties (as well as their associated institutes, research chairs and research centres):

It also has a network of external associates and collaborators in industry, at other universities both locally and internationally, science councils, consulting firms, technology companies, mining service providers, professional associations and government institutions).

Contract research 

The MRRC’s contract research is regulated by Enterprises University of Pretoria. As such, it has access to South Africa’s most acclaimed academics, research specialists and thought leaders, as well as the Department’s own expertise, which it can utilise to enhance the quality of its delivery.

Industry-related research

The MRRC has an excellent relationship with the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC).  The University of Pretoria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the MHSC to establish the MRRC as a Centre of Excellence to coordinate all MHSC research within the University.

The Department supports the recently developed Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP) initiative. This is a public-private collaboration between the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation and the Minerals Council South Africa, managed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). 

This initiative will facilitate collaboration, and coordinate mining equipment manufacture and skills development by mining companies, original equipment manufacturers, skills development entities and research entities. An outcome of the MMP was the development of the South African Mining, Extraction, Research, Development and Innovation (SAMERDI) strategy, in which the Department is closely involved. Several research projects are undertaken to support this initiative.

Current projects

Current projects include the following:

  • Good ledging practices and the development of animated video training material based on good ledging practices (MHSC) 
  • Reopening old mine workings and the mining of underground mine pillars to prevent serious accidents (MHSC) 

Completed projects

The following projects have been concluded for the mining industry:

  • The mechanisation of gold and Platinum Group Metals (PGM) commodities using drilling and blasting (MMP) 
  • Proposed illumination guidelines for equipment operating in the South African mining industry
  • Mechanisation of gold and Platinum Group Metals (PGM) mines using drilling and blasting
  • A review of the use of a yielding pre-stressing device to mitigate the effect of the excessive down-rating of elongate strength.
  • Numerical modelling of the shaft pillar at Impala #16 and the interaction between the UG2 and Merensky reef horizons
  • Investigating the effect of alteration contacts on pillar behaviour
  • A review of the test methodology for thin sprayed liners
  • Developing testing specifications for netting and the dynamic testing of tendons; and assessing the feasibility of establishing an independent accredited support testing facility (MHSC) 
  • Developing a Missing Person Locator System (MHSC) 
  • Developing an Underground and Surface Communication System (MHSC) 
  • Developing an Underground Proximity Detection System (MHSC) 
  • Understanding the Impact of technology on people in the South African mining sector (MHSC) 
  • Establishing a test and simulation capability and standard verification methods to evaluate collision management systems (MHSC) 
  • Upgrading sound analysis facilities with the addition of an acoustic camera (MHSC) 
  • Developing rock mass condition assessment tools (MHSC) 
  • Developing mining illumination standards for mobile equipment operating in open pit and underground mines in the South African mining industry (MHSC) 
  • Assessing the feasibility of reducing diesel particulate matter (DPM) exposure through the replacement and/or conversion of all Tier 0 with Tier 2 or Tier 3 engines (MHSC) 
  • The development of dust suppression and cooling systems for burning and or burnt coal (South 32) 
  • A construction and tunnelling preliminary market survey (New Concept Mining) 
  • Fire engineering (I-Cat) 
  • Non-explosive rock breaking (MMP) 
  • Real-time information management systems (MMP) 
  • Human factors in mining (MMP) 
  • Developing an integrated digital technology (IDT) platform (Kumba Iron Ore) 
  • A new mining method study (Sasol) 
  • Advanced ore body knowledge (MMP) 
  • Longevity of current mining (MMP)
Published by Marietha Hicks

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