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Research activities and Engagements

Current and emerging areas of high impact research in the Department include:

Augmented-, Mixed- and Virtual Reality safety training for supervisors developed by the SATCAP programme through the SAMERDI Mandela Mining Precinct is ongoing.

Collaboration through the UNESCO Centre of Mineral Resource Universities in St. Petersburg Russia and the German Chamber of Commerce is ongoing. Small-scale and Artisanal Mining. Geological and structural mapping by laser scanner for the Advanced Orebody Knowledge programme through the SAMERDI Mandela Mining Precinct.

The Department is constantly adjusting to the changing needs within our society that is driven by the 4th Industrial revolution. That means that our students are exposed to the latest technologies during their class and laboratory work and regular industry visits. The Department has one of the first Virtual Reality training systems at a University, which enables students to walk around and perform certain tasks including the correct placement and use of explosives in a mine, while being safely in a laboratory. These tasks would normally only be possible on a working mine under sometimes challenging conditions. In the VR Simulacrum sponsored by Sibanye Stillwater, allows the student a realistic experience that it is completely safe. The construction of the Sibanye Stillwater Simulacrum incorporates a realistic mine tunnel complex in a building where students are able to experience a fully integrated mixed reality (MR) experience where real infrastructure is combined with virtual reality simulations. This tunnel complex acts as a digital-twin mine on campus which will be used to develop a full extended reality programme.

The increased qualification profile of staff and the introduction of the Honours and Masters programmes will increase research outputs to an acceptable level. Research focus areas will focus on Sustainable mining, Resource optimization, Extended Reality Technology in Engineering Education, Longevity of Mining (LOM) and Advanced Orebody Knowledge (AOK). Some of these initiatives are in collaboration with:

  • The UNESCO Centre of Mineral Resource Universities in St. Petersburg Russia
  • The German Chamber of Commerce
  • The Mandela Mining Precinct SAMERDI LoM, SATCAP and AOK initiatives
  • The Belt Road Initiative with the Beijing Mining University

The introduction of two sponsored chairs in the near future to support the Post-Graduate and Research activities in Sustainable mining supported through Sibanye Stillwater and the Mandela Mining Precinct (SAMERDI). The research areas in Sustainable Mining will include Longevity of mining, artisanal mining and Advanced Orebody Knowledge.

  • The Sibanye Stillwater chair of Sustainable Mining.
  • SAMERDI research centre director: Longevity of Mining.

The department contributes to three of the strategic research drives of the Mandela Mining Precinct, namely:

  1. The Advanced Orebody Knowledge project. The application of LIDAR scanning and thermal imagery to predict geological features within the unmined structures of rock was investigated.
  2. Longevity of mining project. The department assisted in research regarding artisanal mining methods and the application of explosive technology to improve productivity.
  3. SATCAP project (human and technology interface). A combined project with UP, WITS and Industry was launched. UJ was selected as the permanent host to display the Augmented Reality and Virtual reality technology developed in this project.