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The inaugural Mine-Tech International Conference and Expo hosted over 300 participants at Gallagher Estate from 2-4 November, and the organisers would like to thank them for braving the Midrand traffic and afternoon showers to attend this event. A special thanks also to the sponsors of Mine-Tech, aorist consulting, Concession Creek Consulting and Managing Transformation Solutions.
Mine-Tech kicked off with two parallel workshops, the Underwater Mining Forum and the Technical Skills Forum. Delegates from as far afield as the Netherlands attended the Underwater Mining Forum, which was facilitated by Hans Smit and Steve Searle of Marine and Mineral Projects. This workshop provided a thorough overview of the history, current state and future potential of underwater mining, with delegates commenting that it provided them with “interesting info, relevant and up-to-date” and “a valuable networking opportunity that may lead to future business”.
The Technical Skills Forum was characterised by much debate and active participation from the delegates. One of the issues touched on was how to portray the mining industry in a more appealing light in order to attract the youth, with delegates commenting that mines should be utilising social media such as Facebook and supporting schools to ensure that they produce learners with a good grounding in the subjects and skills required by the mining industry.
The opening session highlight was the keynote by Derek Hanekom, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, who noted that the mining industry was competing well against heavy odds, particularly in light of the increasing pressure to extract metals profitably from progressively lower-grade ore bodies, accompanied by rising costs, increasingly challenging safety and environmental issues, in a climate in which skills were becoming harder to acquire.
“Fortunately”, the Minister noted, “there now seems to be a glimmer of hope, and indications are that demand is beginning to strengthen again, and that light is appearing once more at the top of the pit shaft."
Safety and sustainable development were two of the key issues addressed during the conference sessions, with discussions touching on the role of technology in serving the interests of both the workforce and production. Best practice in increasing performance across the value chain and improved logistics management were also highlighted, with case studies on the implementation of 6 Sigma at the Gold Fields Tarkwa mine, managing maintenance activities at Exxaro’s Leeuwpan mine, automation at De Beers’ Finsch mine and block cave mining at the Rio Tinto Palabora mine.
The organisers of Mine-Tech wish to thank all the speakers and exhibitors who contributed to this event, and look forward to meeting you again next year; details on the date and venue will be released soon.
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