The Wits School of Mining Engineering awarded seven doctoral degrees in 2015 – a record achievement that surpasses previous years’ achievements.

Standing left to right: Gafar Oniyide, Markus Mathey, Victor Akinbinu, Dr Bekir Genc Seated left to right: (left to right) Dr Halil Yilmaz, Prof Emeritus Dick Stacey, Prof Emeritus Huw Phillips, Prof Cuthbert Musingwini (Head of School), Kenneth Rhodes, Prof Fred Cawood
Standing left to right: Gafar Oniyide, Markus Mathey, Victor Akinbinu, Dr Bekir Genc
Seated left to right: (left to right) Dr Halil Yilmaz, Prof Emeritus Dick Stacey, Prof Emeritus Huw Phillips, Prof Cuthbert Musingwini (Head of School), Kenneth Rhodes, Prof Fred Cawood

“This achievement indicates the School’s commitment to our strategic goal of raising research productivity, which aligns with the Wits Vision 2022 of being a global top-100 university within the next seven years,” says Head of School Professor Cuthbert Musingwini.

Kenneth Rhodes – known to many as the ‘father of hardrock mechanisation’ in South Africa – focused his DEng on the implementation of mechanisation efforts in gold and platinum mines between 1983 and 2008.

PJ le Roux’s thesis investigated instability in open stope mining, developing a new design criterion to calculate, with certainty, the stability of open stopes.

Hennie Grobler, head of the Department of Mine Surveying at the University of Johannesburg, proposed an alternative method of mine surveying, to improve the safety and accuracy of primary survey network control in a narrow tunnel environment.

Bekir Genc, senior lecturer at the Wits School of Mining Engineering, used his PhD to understand how mine planning software can be used strategically for optimal benefit – developing a methodology for evaluating the use of this software and predicting future use.

Victor Akinbinu conducted research into the links between fragmentation and brittleness of Class II rock types, and successfully proved the relationship that will find application in blasting design in mining and civil construction work.

Markus Mathey conducted research into the strength of coal mining pillars at high width-to-height ratios, demonstrating that while an exponential strength increase may be applicable to other rock types, it cannot be justified for coal; he argued that the use of the largely theoretically-based formula currently in use in South Africa should be discontinued.

Gafar Oniyide, earned his PhD by investigating the increasing rock temperatures that arise with deeper mining operations; his thesis improves the understanding of the mechanical response of rock masses under high temperatures and stresses, as well as mining-induced cooling around excavations.

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