Mining Resilience Research Centre

UP mining footprint 

The University of Pretoria participates in the global mining arena through its multidisciplinary approach to research and innovation. In terms of mining and minerals engineering, multiple research initiatives are currently being conducted across various faculties and departments throughout the University. Through the conducive environment for transdisciplinary research that exists at the University, a mining footprint has been established that examines various overlapping aspects of mining from different perspectives. 

The quality of the University’s research in this field has been recognised internationally through its ranking in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in the top 100 universities in the world for mining and minerals engineering for 2019. This is not only based on the large volume of research on various aspects of mining and minerals engineering being conducted at UP, but also the quality of education, quality of researchers, research output and per capita academic performance of the institution.

The collective of these research efforts thus has a significant impact on the University’s international rankings, as well as the visibility of the University’s mining footprint. A key priority of the Department of Mining Engineering going forward is therefore to showcase the University’s many transdisciplinary research projects.

Transdisciplinary research focuses, among others, on aspects such as society, health, the environment, the economy, engineering and technology. As such, it is in direct support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. These universal goals emphasise that minerals are needed for modern societies. Furthermore, it takes cognisance of the fact that the dominant method for extracting minerals is still mining.

Within the Department, collaborative and cross-cutting contract research initiatives are coordinated and facilitated by the Mining Resilience Research Centre (MRRC). The Department’s extensive in-house expertise is also focusing on a number of research topics that are pertinent to the sustainability of the mining industry.

Minerals Cluster departments

Research that directly affects the minerals life cycle is conducted in the Minerals Cluster departments. This research is related to the study of geological structures in the Department of Geology, the extraction of minerals in the Department of Mining Engineering and the processing of minerals in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering.

Interdisciplinary research 

Research related to mining from different perspectives and on overlapping aspects is conducted in almost all of the University’s nine faculties, as well as in each of the four schools in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology. These include the following:

Department of Chemical Engineering 

  • The use of drones to study the extent of air pollution at open-cast mines (Dr Gerrit Kornelius) 
  • Rehabilitation of polluted soil at mining sites (Prof Evans Chirwa and Dr Deon Brink)
  • The use of mineral clays for use as catalysts (Prof Johan Labuschagne) 
  • The treatment of acid mine water (Prof Dawie van Vuuren) 
  • Environmental engineering (Dr Deon Brink and Prof Evans Chirwa) 
  • Water utilisation engineering (Dr Shepherd Tichapondwa and Prof Evans Chirwa)

Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering

Research conducted by Prof Johan de Villiers, Mr Igor Zeljko, Dr Shatish Ramjee, Prof Andrie Garbers-Craig, Dr Robert Cromarty, Prof Natasia Naudé, Mr Wynand Roux, Prof Kathy Sole, Prof Victor Ross, Prof Roelf Sandenbergh and Dr Johan Zietsman.

Research topics include the following:

  • Minerals and Mining Law (in collaboration with Prof André Borraine in the Facuty of Law) 
  • Forensic engineering that has an impact on mine health and safety incident investigation research (Prof Roelf Mostert)

Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering

  • Collision management systems for mines to prevent accidents between vehicles and pedestrians (Dr Herman Hamersma, Vehicle Dynamics Group) 
  • Energy in general, as well as convectional heat transfer with applications in the mining industry (Prof Josua Meyer) 

Department of Mining Engineering

  • A preliminary qualitative evaluation of a hydraulic splitting cylinder for breaking rock in deep-level mining (Prof Wolter de Graaf and Prof William Spiteri) (read more
  • Engineering education: An integrated problem-solving framework for discipline-specific professional development in mining engineering (Prof Ronny Webber-Youngman and M Haupt) (read more
  • Some rock engineering aspects of multi-reef pillar extraction on the Ventersdorp Contact Reef (Prof Francois Malan and JC Esterhuyse) (read more
  • A limit equilibrium fracture zone model to investigate seismicity in coal mines (Prof John Napier and Prof Francois Malan) (read more
  • Rockburst support in shallow-dipping tabular stopes at great depth (Prof John Napier and Prof Francois Malan) (read more
  • Simulation of tabular mine face advance rates using a simplified fracture zone module (Prof John Napier and Prof Francois Malan) (read more
  • Optimisation of the load-and-haul operation at an opencast colliery (Prof Sezer Uludag and O Pasch (read more

Department of Town and Regional Planning

  • Research as part of the MRRC (Prof Mark Oranje)

Graduate School of Technology Management

  • Studies on the alignment of technology and business strategies: the adoption of technology management tools in the coal-mining sector (Prof Tinus Pretorius
  • Projectification in the South African mining industry (Dr Giel Bekker) 
  • Knowledge transfer across different boundaries in a project environment: a case study of a Botswana mining organisation (Prof Herman Steyn) 
  • The use of maintenance technologies in the South African mining industry (Prof Krige Visser) 
  • Limitations on implementing maintenance strategies in the manufacturing and mining sectors (Prof Krige Visser) 
  • The extent to which systems thinking decision making can improve the bottom line in the mining industry (Mr P Viljoen) 
  • Exploring the appropriate leadership style balance for critical phases of a business process framework implementation in the South African coal mining industry (Ms Suzaan Pretorius) 
  • Analysis of the technology management framework at operational level and its alignment with the organisational level strategy of the business: case study of South 32 mining operations in South Africa (Mr Marinus du Plessis) 
  • Enhancing the effectiveness and impact of digitisation in open-cast mining operations (Mr Marinus du Plessis) 
  • Improving the integration of asset management, life cycle management and supply chain management using systems engineering: a study of mining companies in Zimbabwe (Mr D Blyth) 

Department of Geology

  • Remote sensing of magnetite for exploration (James Roberts) 
  • Characterisation of contact metamorphosed and altered coal for utilization James Roberts) 
  • Potential groundwater hazards related to coal mining and coal dumps James Roberts) 
  • Dyke and sill control in the Karoo basin on natural gas reserves James Roberts) 
  • Projects are related to CO2 sequestration, working on the desktop study on all tailings facilities derived from mafic hosted deposits, and determining their likely use for CO2 sequestration (Zakhele Nkosi) 
  • Water balance investigation of Mooiplaas Dolomite Quarry (Roger Diamond) 
  • Stable isotope investigation of CO2 springs in KZN (part of carbon-capture-and-storage projects) (Roger Diamond) 
  • Rn in groundwater near mines (Roger Diamond) 
  • Thermal alteration of sedimentary rocks within the contact aureoles of Karoo dolerite intrusions (focus on shale gas) (Nils Lenhardt) 
  • Thermal alteration of sedimentary rocks within the contact aureoles of Karoo dolerite intrusions (focus on shale gas) (Nils Lenhardt) 
  • Clastic intrusions as pathways for hydrocarbons (Nils Lenhardt) 
  • Pb-Zn mineralisation in hydrothermal deposits of the Rooiberg Group, Bushveld Igneous Province (Nils Lenhardt) 
  • Heat flow in South Africa and its implications for geothermal energy utilization (Nils Lenhardt) 
  • Characterisation of the hydrocarbon potential of the Benue Trough, Nigeria (Nils Lenhardt) 
  • Thermal effects of magmatic intrusions on Pb-Zn mineralisation in the Benue Trough, Nigeria (Nils Lenhardt) 
  • Hydrocarbon potential of tight reservoirs in volcano-sedimentary basins (Nils Lenhardt) 
  • Hydrogeology of a dolomite mine (Matthys Dippenaar) 
  • Variably saturated flow through rock fractures (into excavations) (Matthys Dippenaar) 
  • Hydraulic behaviour of made ground and fills (Matthys Dippenaar) 
  • Protection offered by the vadose zone to groundwater contamination (Matthys Dippenaar) 
  • Open pit rock slope stability: 1) bench design parameters; b) slope failure back analysis; c) influence of joint roughness and aperture on rock mass shear strength and water flow (Louis van Rooy) 
  • Adjusted rock mass classification for open pit slope stability design in foliated rocks masses (Louis van Rooy) 
  • Different support measures for various geological structures in Eastern Limb platinum mines (Louis van Rooy) 
  • Ni-PGE mineralisation of satellite intrusions to the Kunene Complex in Namibia and Angola
  • Kunene AMCG Complex in Angola and northern Namibia-metallogenesis and economic potential (Lorenzo Milani) 
  • Structural Geology of Flatreef Platinum Deposit, Northern Limb, Bushveld Complex (Adam Bumby) 
  • Structural geology and mafic intrusions within the Highveld coalfield 
  • Structural controls on the emplacement of the Rustenburg Layered Suite, Bushveld Complex 
  • Assessment of seismic risk and hazards for tailing dams and other mine facilities (Andrzej Kijko and Ansie Smit ‒ UP Natural Hazard Centre) 

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