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Moderating Oral Exams for the UP Department of Mining Engineering

On 16 and 17 November 2022, the current final year undergraduate Mining Engineering students at the University of Pretoria presented their first own mine designs as part of the completion of in the module PMZ 422 Mine design and research.

Students at the University of Pretoria, Department of Mining Engineering

Back row (standing) left to right:
Jongheon Lim; Juan Gelderblom; Thembiso Maqutu; Wilhelm Warschkuhl, Francois Nell, Desmond Malatsi, Glen Matlala

Front row left to right:
Thabo Paile; Phumelele Skosana; Tumelo Tsoku; Patience Khuphani

The module entailed designing a concept level mine based on the ore body data provided to the students. The students were split into four groups; covering all major aspects of mine design ranging from estimating the resource and reserve tonnes to determining labour compliments and rehabilitation plans.

It was the great pleasure of Mr. Wilhelm Warschkuhl, Principal Mining Engineer, and Mr. Francois Nell, Mining Engineer, at VBKOM to assist the Department of Mining Engineering in evaluating and moderating the presentations of the four groups of students.

The internal lector of the course is Mr. Johann Esterhuyse, the external lector is Mr. Nell and Mr. Warschkuhl joined as an external examiner for the final exams. Also, present on the day was Dr. Johan Uys who looked specifically at how the students incorporate leadership and other soft skills into their designs.

Mr. Nell of VBKOM was brought in as an external lector to guide the students through the module and the mine design process throughout the semester. Mr. Nell said the following about working with the students, “It was an extremely rewarding process working with the students and seeing them interact with and digest new concepts to eventually be able to include their own interpretations of the solution in their work. I was especially impressed by the innovative ways they tackled the principle of pit optimization without the use of fancy software like Whittle.”

Mr. Warschkuhl observing one of the presentations

Photo: Mr. Warschkuhl observing one of the presentations

The oral exams the four groups delivered were based on a concept study to start up a mine. The scenario in which all four groups worked included the following parameters:

  • Commodity: PGMs (Platinum, Palladium, Rhodium)
  • Project: Greenfield
  • Orebody: Flat dipping
  • Area: Western limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex, Limpopo Province
  • Project Research and inclusions:
    • Resource Estimation and Reserve Statement
    • Mining method selection
    • Equipment selection trade-off study
    • Production scheduling
    • Pit Optimisation
    • CAPEX and OPEX
    • Financial modeling
    • Sensitivity analysis
    • Permitting
    • Infrastructure
    • Haul road design
    • Beneficiation process
    • Market research

It is a great honour for VBKOM to be trusted by UP as an esteemed organisation to help shape the minds of the next generation of mining engineers in South Africa.

VBKOM recognises the need to grow and support talent in the mining industry as one of the greatest opportunities to grow our company and to play our part in ensuring the high standard of mining engineering in the industry is maintained.

Declaration: The photograph used in this article does not reflect the entire undergraduate group, but only a part of this group.

Authors: Mr. Wilhelm Warschkuhl; Mr. Francois Nell

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