Wits Mining Institute Digital Mine
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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.

Digital Mining

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
Mechanised Mining

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 Mining

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

Postgraduate 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

Towards conversion of an outdoor positioning system based on BeiDou into an underground positioning system: an indoor positioning system approach to enable underground real-time positioning.

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 Developing an underground UAV platform for Mine EMS: Towards a rapid integrated approach to manage and control environmental risks in underground mining under different scenarios

Prof F Cawood& Dr Tariq Feroze

Naidoo  Sanisha PhD Starting January 2018 (Applying  Machine Learning  to Mine mapping from a mobile platform) MHSC UAV Project  
Kolade Femi PhD Error Mitigation in Integrated Visible Light and Powerline Communication Channels Prof. Ling Cheng  
Borman  Dave MSc

Value Proposition of three dimensional imaging using laser scanning techniques: Technical Services considerations for underground mining

Prof F Cawood   
Botha Deonie MSc

The applicability of recognition-primed decision-making for a lean production system at a modernized gold mining operation

Prof F Cawood   


Undergraduate VAC work projects


 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 
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
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
Christian Kamwangala Power Line Communication Intikhab Prof Ling Chen
Tanaka Makonese / Rakesh Mulloo Feasibility Study for Digimine private network Intikhab Prof Mahmood
Mosima Matlhwana Project Management for Digital Mining Hamid Prof Cawood
Nhlanhla Hlatswayo Camera functionalities for Digital Mining Calvin Prof Cawood
Sifiso Percy DigiMine ICT   Femi Kolade Prof Cawood
Nonhle Phiri DigiMine IOT: Youngblood system  Mosima  Prof Cawood