Besides celebrating Heritage Day on 24 September and enjoying “braaivleis, sonskyn and Chevrolet”, for those who remember what this was, the month of September, as far as mining conferences and exhibitions were concerned, was an exciting time – at least for ‘diehards’ of mining.
FIRST UP WAS THE successful fourday Kimberley Diamond Symposium and Exhibition organised by the Geological Society of South Africa, in conjunction with John Bristow and Mike De Wit. It was very well attended, with delegates from as far afield as Canada, the USA and Russia enjoying Northern Cape hospitality. A well-thought-out agenda, with an array of interesting presentations and mine visits, had diamond mine owners, geologists, metallurgists and OEMs thoroughly entertained – even with the one or two intellectually challenging papers.
I joined a group of geologists and a brave metallurgist, led by Jock Robey, who explored an old De Beers tailings dump that was being re-mined by Super Stone Mining (no relation). Like the geologists, I feverishly hunted for kimberlite hoping to find a diamond. Zdislav Spetaius, a geologist from Russia, and Martina Bezzola, a geologist from Canada, were among the group of grown-up kids on the treasure hunt. Needless to say, with a yield of 14 carats per 100 tonnes, no one found a diamond, or at least did not let on that they had. Included in this edition are a few of the papers and posters presented at the symposium. We acknowledge all the authors for the fine work they did, are doing, and for their contributions.
Next up was the much-anticipated Electra Mining week at NASREC. Th is year must have been a bumper year. Taking up all the halls and outdoor exhibition space, plus a couple of gigantic marquees, everyone who is someone and has something to do with mining was there. At least this time I did not see MIBs sneaking around photographing every detail of the technology items they wished to replicate. In terms of technology, products and services, there was more to digest than ever before. It simply was not possible to breeze in and breeze out in a single day. After three days, I managed two halls, the marquees and the outdoor area. I chatted in some detail to 108 exhibitors and interviewed 11 people, and that was me. I was done. Even so, the one thing that struck me most was the ingenuity of humanity. Every piece of technology on display, from hard hats to drilling machines, was invented, enhanced and developed to solve problems and meets specifi c needs. We discover this when we take the time to talk to people, ask questions and consider the solutions in the context of our own mining interests. With exhibitions like this, one does not need DSTV because we have our own live reality show. I must be a diehard.
Going forward, we have the 6th International Platinum Conference at Sun City between 20 and 24 October, which should be interesting as this takes us to the ‘coal face’, as it were. With some Amplats mines up for sale and mine mechanisation sure to be on the agenda, the conference will no doubt illicit a huge amount of interest.