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Sibanye-Stillwater launches digital mining laboratory
In a technology-focused partnership that will help make mines safer and more productive, South-African Sibanye-Stillwater and the Wits Mining Institute (WMI) at the University of the Witwatersrand, today launched the Sibanye-Stillwater Digital Mining Laboratory (DigiMine).
DigiMine is a simulated mining environment in the Chamber of Mines building on the West Campus of Wits University, whose facilities now include a vertical shaft in a stairwell, a tunnel and stope in the basement, and a range of communication and digital systems to enable research that will help to create the mine of the future.
Sibanye-Stillwater recently extended its existing sponsorship by a further R15 million over three years, bringing its total sponsorship of the WMI to R27.5 million between 2015 and 2020.
Sibanye-Stillwater CEO, Neal Froneman, highlighting the importance of the mining industry harnessing the fourth industrial revolution and fully benefitting from advances in digital technology through close ties with research institutions, remarked, “The launch of the DigiMine establishes a unique programme that is instrumental for the application of digital technologies in support of safer and more efficient mining operations.“
This sentiment was echoed by Professor Tawana Kupe, Wits Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal: “The DigiMine speaks to the University’s strategy of integrating technology, teaching, learning and research in academia. This partnership ensures that we can continue to develop the specialised skills and knowledge as we move into the fourth industrial revolution.”
Sibanye-Stillwater and Wits University are supporting students, strategic projects and growing the DigiMine programme, which leverages a growing range of on-site facilities with multi-disciplinary research that draws on expertise from other departments at Wits University, and from partners locally and abroad
“This partnership between WMI and Sibanye-Stillwater paves the way to develop digital technologies that will reduce risk in the mining environment,” said WMI director Professor Fred Cawood. “Safety and competitiveness are cornerstones of a sustainable mining sector, which can contribute to the National Development Plan by reducing poverty and inequality. Our interventions will explore any innovations that can apply real-time digital solutions for reducing mining risk and increasing mining efficiency.”
In a week-long programme to celebrate the launch of the DigiMine, a two-day seminar showcased the work of some postgraduate research students and partner organisations, while keynotes on the digital mining theme were delivered by Sibanye-Stillwater and the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Pakistan.