The Sibanye-Stillwater Digital Mining Laboratory, or DigiMine, is a simulated mining environment at the Wits West Campus Chamber of Mines building with features such as a vertical shaft built into a stairwell, a tunnel and stope in the building’s basement and numerous communication and digital systems, all for training and research by students.
The facility came to fruition thanks to an investment from Sibanye-Stillwater that will total R27.5 million (US$22.79 million) between 2015 and 2020. The growing lab will be expanding its on-site facilities with multi-disciplinary research and pull expertise from other Wits departments.
“The launch of DigiMine establishes a unique programme that is instrumental for the application of digital technologies in support of safer and more efficient mining operations,” Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said, noting that the mining industry is harnessing a fourth industrial revolution.
Professor Tawana Kupe, Wits acting vice-chancellor and principal, added: “The DigiMine speaks to the University’s strategy of integrating technology, teaching, learning and research in academia.
DigiMine will also host the Chair in Digital Mining and Mine Automation and, as a Wits flagship programme tied to the Mining 4.0 and its Future World of Work initiative, will conduct testing, research and development to transfer surface digital technologies to underground operations.