The WMI is a multidisciplinary research institute comprising of a Digital Mining research group and a Unit for developing a 21st Century skills set at artisan, technician and professional levels.
In addition to these established units, the WMI has access to all other capacities within the University and intends to add capacity where it does not exist. This approach is aligned with the approach of the NDP. The way forward is to encourage partnerships to ensure a sustainable business model of a WMI that is well-governed, resourced for success, has a secure pipeline of earned research income and has leadership.
The digital mine laboratory at Wits is an exciting project where the Chamber of Mines building on West Campus was converted into a ‘mine’, complete with surface (using the flat roof of the building), vertical shaft (using a stairwell in the fourth quadrant of the building) and mock mine with control room in the basement. The mock has a life-size tunnel, stope, lamp room and other features. The Mock Mine is equipped with the digital systems that will enable the research for the mine of the future and is part of Wits Mining Institute. Today it is a one-of-a-kind laboratory with a significant research agenda to transfer surface digital technologies into the underground environment – the enabler for a mine that can (automatically) observe, evaluate and take action. The ultimate objective is to use technology to put distance between mine workers and the typical risks they are exposed to on a daily basis. Although there are some mines in South Africa who installed similar systems, such installations are mostly vendor-driven-and-supported, resulting in large dependency on international OEMs. Existing DigiMine research projects:
- Extension of surface technologies underground
- Communication systems
- Positioning, mapping and navigation
- Action recognition and detection of abnormalities
- Remote, visual, inspections
- Visual, environmental and rock monitoring
- Getting distance between people and risk
A strong global trend has gained significant momentum in recent years, namely Surface mines are getting bigger and all mines more mechanised. Mines are embracing technology and they are well set on the path of innovation. This will lead to a future of continuous mining, where new mines will be designed for mechanization, automation and robotics. For this reason Wits established the Centre for Mechanised Mining Systems (CMMS). The Digital Mining group has very strong ties and links with the CMMS and there is significant synergy when it comes to attaching digital systems to machines.
Sustainable development is an integral part of 21st Century mining. Environmental, Community and Health and Safety management concepts have become part of the every-day mind-set of companies operating in the sector. There is an urgent need to develop an African meaning for 'just capital' and broad benefit at the African, Regional, National and Local levels and policies on mineral development and mining taxation must reflect this need. To influence policy development in Africa, Wits established the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (CSMI). As is the case with the CMMS the Digital Mining group has very strong ties with the CSMI as digital tools can be used to make mining more transparent by sharing quality information in real-time and allowing for stakeholder conversations having their roots in fact rather than speculation.
WMI Research Topics
Surname Name Level Research topic Supervisor Remark Grobler Hendrik PhD Spatial positioning of sidewall stations in a narrow tunnel environment: A safe alternative to traditional mine survey practice Prof F Cawood Graduated 2015 Kanda Mpoyi MSc Limit equilibrium and numerical modelling approaches in slope stability analyses with regard to risk assessment for open pit mining Prof D Stacey Graduated 2015 Ali Mohsin MSc Simulation of Product Transportation in Open Pit Mines Prof H Phillips Graduated 2015 Stacey Glenn MSc Towards automated tunnel traversing for the survey control of deep level mining Prof Cawood & Prof Genc Did research, but not report Ali Sarfraz PhD Evaluation of flooding induced mining seismicity with a view to characterize safety margins for surface structures under existing and flooded conditions in Central Rand, Johannesburg Prof N van der Merwe Graduated 2016 Feroze Tariq PhD An Initial Investigation of Room and Pillar Ventilation Using CFD to Investigate the Effects of Last Through Road Velocity Prof H Phillips Graduated 2016 Khanyile Samkelisiwe MSc Towards a digital mine; A spatial database for accessing historical data on mining
and related activities
Prof Cawood & Dr Merlo Graduated 2016 Ashraf Hamid PhD Several GIS projects in addition to Mineral Development for GrowthDeveloping a Mineral Policy Framework & Mining Cadastre System for Pakistan Prof F Cawood Assessed, will graduate 2017 Edwards Stuart MSc Autonomous 3D mapping and surveillance of mines with MAVs Prof T Celik Under assessment Hussain Intikhab MSc Channel Modelling and Analysis of Wits Mock-Mine with different antenna parameters Prof Cawood & Prof Van Olst Assessed, will graduate 2017 Chabalala Stephan PhD Adaptive Resource Allocation for Undergroud Mine Wireless Communication Systems Prof F Takawira Assessed, will graduate 2017 Tetteh Monica PhD Time and spatial tracking of metal content from in-situ to the plant entry: A digital mining technology approach Prof F Cawood Javaid Faiq MSc Conceptualization of a Mining Information Model Using Real Time Information for Smart Decision Making: A Smart Economics Approach Prof F Cawood Kwiri Joseph Msc Concept development of a smart rock engineering system for real time decision-making and risk minimization in deep level hard rock mines: A digital mining approach Munjai Vuledzani MSc Started course work for research (GIS specialization - mobile GIS for drone) Dr S Merlo Donor funding late - Had to leave Opiti Calvin MSc A spatio-temporal modelling and analysis of digital sensor data for underground mine health and safety Dr S Merlo & Prof Cawood Graduated 2017 Qin Changbiao PhD Spatial positioning: Conversion of Indoor positioning systems to underground positioning systems Prof F Cawood Takudzwa Mapusa MSc An investigation into the application of terrestrial scanning for underground mining Prof F Cawood Javaid Sarmad MSc Towards a technology framework for evaluating and optimising the metal flow process for copper production Prof H Potgieter & Prof F Cawood Fan Xiang MSc A systems approach to reducing variability in decision-making process by addressing the complexity associated with the adoption of disruptive digital technology in a modern hard-rock mining environment Prof F Cawood Musa Godknows MSc Conceptualization of a technology to find missing persons in underground mining Kolapo Peter MSc Towards a laboratory for testing the accuracy of Terrestrial 3D Laser Scanning Technologies (TLS). Prof F Cawood Mphathiwa Naani PhD Application of mine survey geospatial principles and technological solutions in order to get more certainty on borehole paths Prof F Cawood Livingstone-Blevins Mike MSc A cross-functional value chain approach to geospatial information: A guideline to practice for the minerals industry Prof F Cawood Matlhwana Mosima MSc Starting January 2018 (Applying Systems thinking to Mine Ventilation Engineering for risk management from a mobile platform) MHSC UAV Project Naidoo Sanisha PhD Starting January 2018 (Applying Machine Learning to Mine mapping from a mobile platform) MHSC UAV Project Hlatswayo Nhlanhla MSc Starting January 2018 (Smart camera functionality for Mine surveillance from a mobile platform) MHSC UAV Project
Undergraduate VAC work projects
NAME PROJECT MINING (2015-16) POSTGRADUATE STAFF SUPERVISOR Peter Rungani Architecture of the Schauenburg System with case study Intikhab Hussain Prof Cawood Ntsako Magamana Architecture of the Vibra Tech System with case study Intikhab Hussain Prof Cawood Reply Maluleke Architecture of the Camera System with case study Intikhab Hussain Prof Genc Makinana Sesethu Evaluation of Deformation Behaviour of a Wooden Support in the Stope using Strain Gauge, and Stress Gauge Sarfraz Ali Mr Zvarivadza Maqelepo Atang Evaluation of stope behaviour due to environmental variations using extensometer, and performance analysis of Water level and PH meters Sarfraz Ali Mr Zvarivadza Makhosi Lekhuleni Deformation evaluation of underground infrastructure by measuring crack behaviour using crack meters Jacques Mpoyi Kanda Mr Zvarivadza Knowledge Mbonane Schauenburg Cap lamp and Rescue pack Monica Tetteh Prof Genc Ngonidzashe Nyamudeza Schauenburg GDI's (Fixed and hand-held) Tariq Feroze Mr Mochubele Masibulele G Sukati Air Flow and pressure measurements of the fan (Force Fan) at different speeds and calculation of energy cost Tariq Feroze Mr Mochubele Millicent N Mabidilala Air Flow and pressure measurements of the fan (Exhaust Fan) at different speeds and calculation of energy cost Tariq Feroze Mr Mochubele NAME PROJECT ELECTRICAL (2015-16) POSTGRADUATE STAFF SUPERVISOR L Makonese The design and implementation of a prototype wireless multimedia sensor network for use in digital mining Dr Mahmood R Mulloo The development of a prototype internet of things network for use in a digital mine Dr Mahmood NAME PROJECT MINING (2016-17) POSTGRADUATE STAFF SUPERVISOR Aphiwe Plaatjie Schauenburg Upgradation Faiq Javaid Dr Tariq Feroze Fikile Mokgetoa Vibra Tech Upgrade, completed system test and concept Joseph Dr Ali / Mr Tawanda Tanyaradzwa Mapaire Gravimetric Survey Sterkfontein Caves Hamid Prof Webb / Prof Cawood Mekito Chauke Tracking broken ore Monica Munashe Chiumburu 3D Model Calvin / Hamid Prof Cawood Amile Ndlovu Smart Mine Access Joseph / Sarmad Jere Chiloba Technology approach to investing mine accidents Faiq Javaid Mr Borman / Mr Huw Thomas / Prof Cawood Phuroe Tsepang Design of instrumentation for Shallow tubular ore bodies Joseph Mr Barry Masibulele Sukati WMI Research Proposal Development Tariq/Faiq/Fan Prof Cawood Ngonidzashe Nyamudeza WMI Research Proposal Development Tariq/Faiq/Fan Prof Cawood Atang Maqelepo WMI Research Proposal Development Tariq/Faiq/Fan Prof Cawood NAME PROJECT ELECTRICAL (2016-17) POSTGRADUATE STAFF SUPERVISOR Christian Kamwangala Power Line Communication Intikhab Prof Ling Chen Tanaka Makonese / Rakesh Mulloo Feasibility Study for Digimine private network Intikhab Prof Mahmood NAME PROJECT ELECTRICAL (2016-17) POSTGRADUATE STAFF SUPERVISOR Mosima Matlhwana Project Management for Digital Mining Hamid Prof Cawood Nhlanhla Hlatswayo Camera functionalities for Digital Mining Calvin Prof Cawood