The Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP), through the CSIR and Minerals Council South Africa, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) to establish a test mine at its Maseve Mine. The test mine situated 50 km north of Rustenburg, in the North West province, will be developed as an industry site for research, development and innovation, allowing for technology demonstration and testing.
“An industry test site is an essential component for a successful research and development programme for the South African mining industry’s sustainability. This is a significant step in strengthening mining’s contribution to the National System of Innovation” says MMP Programme Manager, Jurgens Visser. “This establishment will create immediate visibility and value for the South African Mining Extraction Research Development and Innovation (SAMERDI) strategy and deliver value to mining companies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other stakeholders.”
Currently, the MMP, research organisations, the Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa (MEMSA) and other OEMs rely on the goodwill of mining companies and their operations to provide test sites for the evaluation of individual components or items of technology. This, however, has limitations, such as difficulty in accessing the mines; geographical spread across the industry; perceived interruption by production personnel in their production efforts, and other challenges. The test mine will ultimately provide a facility for:
- The testing and demonstration of locally and internationally manufactured mining equipment;
- Research and development activities aligned to the SAMERDI mining research programme;
- Synergistic opportunities for research projects being undertaken by the Mine Health and Safety Council to be trialled and tested;
- Research work in mining conducted through universities;
- The provision of facilities for undergraduate and postgraduate students to conduct vacation work, research and vocational training
- The opportunity to conduct practical training for government certificates of competency;
- A site for establishing a practical technology incubator; and
- A site to enable local industrialisation and start-up companies to be incubated.
All these initiatives will be coordinated through the MMP and its partners. “RBPlat is delighted to offer its Maseve Mine, which is currently under care and maintenance, to be used as an industry test mine. The mine offers a drive-in methodology of entering the mine by means of a decline and the access to the mines underground infrastructure will not interfere with production activities, as the test area is dedicated to the test mine,’ says RBPlat’s CEO, Steve Phiri.