Future production: Mining
The CSIR has a long history of cutting-edge mining research, development and innovation that supports mineral extraction. CSIR Future Production: Mining partners with industry in supporting the revitalisation of the growth of the industry. By leveraging its multidisciplinary expertise and networks, the organisation plays a key role in contributing to the longevity of South African mining operations and assisting in the development and manufacture of South African mining equipment for local use and, ultimately, export to other African countries.
- Maximising extraction efficiencies in current metalliferous mining: The CSIR is assisting industry to bring change to processes, technologies, skillsets, and social and environmental impacts associated with current mining through the modernisation of mines via mechanisation and automation.
- Improving mining occupational health and safety: The CSIR is drawing on its multidisciplinary skills and capabilities to improve safety, health and environment for the mining industry. The CSIR’s key research laboratories enhance its role as a research partner to the Mine Health and Safety Council’s Centre of Excellence by providing the critical health and safety services linked to those facilities.
- Diffusing appropriate solutions to develop relevant capabilities: The CSIR diffuses innovative solutions to drive efficiency and improvements in productivity. These solutions are made possible through the CSIR’s multidisciplinary skills set.
- Contributing to socioeconomic development: The CSIR aims to contribute to socioeconomic development in the South African mining industry and communities.
- Expanding mining research beyond gold and platinum: The CSIR is sharpening its focus on the extraction of minerals such as coal, manganese, chrome, vanadium and titanium. CSIR’s partnership with other local science councils, such as Mintek and the Council for Geoscience enables it to achieve this objective.
Technical experts apply their skills through two impact areas, namely Mining Testing and Training, and Mining Minerals Resources.
Mining Testing and Training
The CSIR provides high-quality, independent testing and verification services, targeted training, relevant research outcomes and competent technical advice in support of the industrywide goal of Zero Harm.
Research staff dedicated to supporting this aim work in one of four specialised laboratories. The Self-contained Self-rescuer (SCSR) Laboratory is a CSIR-established industry-wide monitoring programme with the aim of detecting any unacceptable deterioration in the function performance of the SCSRs used in mines. The Mechanical Rope Testing Laboratory houses two of the largest mechanical testing machines in South Africa, which accommodate large load test specimens, such as mine support products, hoisting equipment and lifting gear. The Air and Dust Laboratory undertakes analysis of environment air quality through, for example, the occupational hygiene filters of mine employees. The Fires and Explosion Research Training Facility is positioned to allow controlled large-scale coal dust/methane explosions as live demonstrations when training mine workers.
Mining and Mineral Resources
The CSIR’s Mining and Minerals Resources Impact Area focuses on rock/geotechnical engineering, mining engineering and geophysics. Rock/geotechnical specialises in the improvement and economic viability of mines through efficient data acquisition, underground mine layout and support design, underground mine design optimisation and open slope stability assessment and feasibility studies. The research group for mining engineering focuses on mining performance improvement studies, occupational health and safety, ventilation and occupational environmental engineering, socioeconomics, ergonomics and fatigue management. The geophysics research group addresses a range of pertinent mining challenges using high-resolution geophysical tools such as 3D and 2D ground-penetrating radar, borehole radar and electrical resistance tomography.