Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: Water was highlighted as the world’s number-one commodity at this week’s Mining Indaba.
Creamer: Yes, you would expect the number-one commodity to be a metal like copper, but it was water that received the number-one highlighting at a time when the planet is in such danger of losing access to sufficient water. Seen as crucial is the linking of mining to agriculture in order to ensure that mine water is used optimally.
So, from the mine into the field, growing food for people. That was highlighted by the Toronto-listed Ivanhoe company executive chairperson Robert Friedland, who is going to link mining to agriculture right here in South Africa, at his platinum group metals mine in Limpopo. He is going to involve agriculture with mining at his Platreef mine on the northern limb of the Bushveld Complex.
Kamwendo: Criminal syndicates disrupting railway lines have been positively identified, this week’s Coal Conference heard.
Creamer: What is happening now is that people working on the railways have become intelligence officers. They say they are spending most of their time investigating and they say it is absolutely clear who the crime syndicate leaders are and who the members of the crime syndicates are. Now, what they want is a notching up on the prosecution and conviction performances, because they say what is happening is that people who steel copper cable do get arrested, but then you see them the following week out and doing the same thing.
They have to now reinforce what is going to be a process of effective conviction and we heard the President, when he delivered the State of the Nation SoNA address last night, also make reference to new prosecution and conviction upliftment that is taking place to ensure that our railways can keep going without criminal disruption.
Kamwendo: Stopping noise-induced hearing loss is now the top health priority of South Africa’s mining industry.
Creamer: Yes, you know, it has always been dust-related diseases that the mining industry was most worried about, diseases like phthisis, silicosis, tuberculosis, but they have worked so strongly on that since 2008, that they have reduced it by 75% to 80%. What hasn't come down and what is concerning them now, is noise-induced hearing loss. This has resulted in the mining industry going straight to the manufacturers and instructing them not to bring anything into the mine that is noisy.
What happens is the earmuffs are not really efficient, and particularly when it is humid and very hot, earmuffs are not worn effectively. So, what Minerals Council South Africa has focused on first are noisy rockdrills in underground mines and a rockdrill has been developed that is not only very low in noise, but it is also very light and this has opened the way for women to now to become rockdrill operators as well as men.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.