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The first symposium held under the auspices of The Mining Forum in Johannesburg in October, focusing on surface drilling and blasting, has been hailed a success

Sponsored by Sandvik Mining and Construction and supported by DataVis, Thunderbird Pacific and AEL Mining Services, this unique knowledge-sharing platform hosted 17 presenters of which 11 were overseas experts, over a period of three days. Delegates came from all parts of Africa, as well as from Europe and Canada to attend the event.

“We were thrilled with the way the event unfolded,” Sandvik’s Jacques Britz says. “Based on its success we intend to make The Mining Forum symposium an annual event focusing on a variety of topics. Drilling and blasting professionals together with engineers, equipment suppliers and other stakeholders took full advantage of this opportunity to share their vast knowledge of the latest leading practices in this critically important sphere of mining.”

What made this event unique was that its focus was on sharing knowledge and solving application and technical problems during discussion and workshop sessions.


Keynote speech

The programme opened with a keynote address entitled on “A Macro Overview of Africa and the Influence on Mining” by Chris Brindley, president of Sandvik Mining and Construction Africa. In his presentation, Brindley emphasised the importance of safety at all levels of the drilling and blasting process and gave an economic and social overview of Africa, with a particular focus on the growth of mining on the continent. He also gave an overview of Sandvik’s corporate social responsibility projects across Africa.

Sandvik’s Charles Deacon, vice-president marketing of Sandvik Mining and Construction Africa gave a presentation on the topic of “Surface Drilling Applications and Techniques”. He highlighted how drilling and blasting impacts on operating costs and stressed that in order to optimise an operation, accurate information is needed for all activities. An important part of this is the ability to quantify the inter-relationships between all processes.

“Drilling and blasting is the first process in the comminution of an orebody,” Deacon concluded. “There are many factors, including drilling, that influence a blast result and ignorance of any of these can lead to poor blast results, resulting in less efficient down-line activities, increased costs and reduced safety. Efficient drill and blast practice is vital and is the most controllable method of reducing total operating costs.”



Other presentations covered drilling method selection; compressed air; measuring bit performance; equipment reliability and contract drilling, as well as reviews of applied drilling methods and technologies, drill rigs, surface mining blasting techniques and measurement of drilling performance. The critical issues of safety, regulatory compliance and environmental protection were an ongoing theme, alongside the introduction of new products, services and equipment.

Britz says the symposium topics covered the full spectrum of the drilling process including processing and equipment maintenance. The workshop sessions were particularly popular, each hosted by an expert in the field.



“In addition all our presenters participated in a panel question-and-answer session which gave delegates the opportunity to pose questions covering all aspects of the drilling and blasting value chain to a group of global experts,” he says. “The enthusiasm with which the delegates participated in this session showcased a real need in our industry for knowledge sharing.

“Feedback at the end of the symposium indicated unanimously that delegates found the event immensely beneficial and indicated that they would not only attend future events under The Mining Forum banner, but that they would bring more colleagues along with them.”

The symposium was convened on a non-profit basis and the lion’s share of the proceeds — amounting to R100 000 — was donated to Compass, a recognised and registered charity. A group of children who benefit from the charity made an appearance at the symposium to acknowledge the donation.