A combination of digital technology insights and thought leadership will underpin the upcoming Wits Mining Institute (WMI) seminar and exhibition on 28 and 29 September 2023 at Wits University in Johannesburg in South Africa.
Driven by the theme ‘Turning Research Curiosity into 21st Century Minerals Industry Performance, Relationships and Technology’, the event will focus on pressing current issues including critical raw minerals, circular mining and sustainability. The focus will include the digital transformation of mining and the just energy transition, with input from leading industry players and academia.
Reflecting the strong industry participation, WMI Director Professor Glen Nwaila highlighted that the seminar represents over a decade of partnership between Sibanye-Stillwater and the WMI. The event is also sponsored by South32, African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), Impala Platinum (Implats), Datamine, Ramjack Technology Solutions, Schauenburg Systems, Gold One, Accenture and the Mandela Mining Precinct. The WMI has joined forces with the Wits Business School in hosting the seminar.
Keynote addresses will be delivered by Sibanye-Stillwater, Dwyka Mining Services, Seriti and the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), while four panel discussions will include participation by companies including Sibanye-Stillwater, Implats, Anglo American, ARM and Accenture. The event will focus on four key areas: integrated critical raw materials for the just energy transition; circular mining and minerals; digital technologies and cybersecurity; and waterless mining.
The WMI will present aspects of its current research, and delegates can tour the WMI’s flagship project, the Sibanye-Stillwater DigiMine. Aside from sponsoring DigiMine, Sibanye-Stillwater also recently sponsored the newly refurbished and rebranded Wits Sibanye-Stillwater Innovation bridge, which links East and West campuses.
“Our first focus in the seminar is to promote research and innovation in the exploration, extraction and processing of critical raw materials that are essential for a sustainable and just energy transition,” said Professor Nwaila. “This has become imperative to achieve the global target of net zero emissions by 2050.”
The next focus emphasises the importance of circular economy principles in the mining industry.
“We will explore secondary sources of metals, such as stockpiles and metallurgical tailings, and discuss how the mining industry can transition to a service-oriented model,” he explained. “This contrasts with the traditional ownership model, and instead aims to achieve a metal for subscription model that is relevant to modern investors, consumers and employees as they become more socially conscious.”
As advancements in digital technologies transform the mining landscape, the seminar will address the challenges and opportunities of implementing digital technologies – such as material traceability or fingerprinting of commodities from mining operation to the market. These solutions will have to be applied while ensuring robust cybersecurity measures, effective governance and responsible use of artificial intelligence.
“Water scarcity is another pressing concern for many mining regions, so the seminar will highlight innovative technologies and collaborative strategies that enable waterless mining processes,” he said.
As the host organisation, the WMI advances research, innovation and collaboration in the mining industry, with a strong focus on cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices. Professor Nwaila said the seminar will bring together industry leaders, experienced academics, students and stakeholders from the mining sector – to exchange knowledge, share insights and explore the latest advancements in mining to envision future trajectories.