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Digital mine champion celebrated

- By Wits University

At a celebratory function on 11 June 2015, the Wits School of Mining Engineering paid tribute to the enormous contribution made by its former Head of School, Professor Fred Cawood, during his five year tenure from 2010 to 2014. Cawood remains in the School as the Professor of Mine Surveying and leader of the school’s digital mine project.

Professor Ian Jandrell, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, commended the bold emphasis on technology promoted by Cawood, in the interests of safer mining.

“Professor Cawood made a profound contribution by championing the digital mine project to assist the mining industry in addressing the target of achieving zero harm,” said Jandrell.  “He recognised at the outset that this was a game-changing direction to take, and worked closely with industry stakeholders to ensure active collaboration.”

Jandrell also lauded Cawood’s ability to ensure smooth leadership transition in the School.

The new Head of School Professor Cuthbert Musingwini, said Cawood has made an indelible mark on the strength and direction of the School during his term as head. “The School has grown substantially in terms of student numbers and special projects, while building its profile and network of industry partnerships,” Musingwini.

Guided by a set of 10 strategic goals, Cawood worked with his team on a range of vital issues including student-staff ratios, sponsorship, partnerships, student throughput, research output and NRF ratings.

“During his five-year tenure as Head of School, Cawood has distinguished himself as a visionary academic leader with a strong passion for future digital mining,” said Musingwini.

An accomplished academic and prolific researcher, Cawood has lectured various levels of study and supervised PhD and MSc students while being actively engaged in his own research across a range of fields from mine economics and mineral rights, taxation and rent, to the development and application of digital technologies in mines. He is also a C1 NRF-rated scientist.

“In the last five years alone, Professor Cawood has produced 44 academic articles published in accredited journals or in conference proceedings, mining magazines, research reports, symposium addresses, seminars and lead editorials,” noted Musingwini. “In his 17 years at Wits, he has generated 50 publications, 44 conference papers and 24 research reports to his name – a truly outstanding record of academic achievement.”

Cawood started his career as a mine surveyor with Goldfields, and then became a mine surveying inspector for the Department Minerals and Energy; before moving into teaching at Technikon SA in 1996. He joined Wits University three years later.

After obtaining his Government Certificate of Competency (Mine Surveying), Cawood went on to earn a string of academic qualifications, without ever being a full-time student. He earned a National Diploma and the Higher National Diploma in Mine Surveying from Wits Technikon, a Graduate Diploma in Engineering in the field of Mineral Economics at Wits University, an LLM degree in Mineral Law and Policy from Dundee University in Scotland, and a PhD degree at Wits on optimal rent levels for South African mineral resources.

“The quality and far reaching implications of his doctoral research are still being felt today,” said Musingwini. “Aspects of his findings were used by the South African Treasury in establishing the royalty taxation system for mining operations.”

Among Cawood’s contributions has been his tireless service in related organisations within the mining fraternity. Serving on the South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors (Plato), his portfolios include education, registration, legal and valuation. He is an executive member and past president of the Institute of Mine Surveyors of South Africa (IMSSA), and a member of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM). Other responsibilities include serving on the mining sub-committee of the Davis Tax Commission of Inquiry, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) International Study Group to Review Africa’s Mining Regimes, the African Mining Network, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Network.

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