Steve Fiscor Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

Before we dive into this edition, let’s pause for a moment and offer a prayer for the families of the deceased and the injured miners that survived the runaway lift incident at Implats Shaft 11 (see News, p. 22). With South Africa’s rich mining history and deep mining expertise, this tragedy is especially troublesome. Our mission, as mining engineers, is to eliminate these types of risks to the best of our abilities and in this case the industry failed these miners.

When a surgeon has a bad day, a patient dies. When engineers have a bad day, people die, and significant amounts of damage can occur. Most of the time our work goes unnoticed because systems operate the way they should, and people leave the site safely every day. Our jobs matter. The people that work in today’s mines and mineral processing plants are counting on us. It’s easy to get distracted with all the noise, but it’s vitally important that we not lose sight of the target.

Today we have many more tools at our disposal than our predecessors. As you thumb through this edition, the continuous advances that we are making as an industry should be evident. This edition has extensive coverage on autonomous open-pit mining, rail haulage, drilling tools, soft rock mining and crushing systems. The adoption of new technology is accelerating, and it should continue at the same pace for the foreseeable future.

Thinking about the mines of the future, much of the mining and mineral processing will be automated and the mines and plants will see further improvements in safety and productivity. In this edition, we briefly discuss the eventual possibility of electrified autonomous haul truck fleets. The precision that will be required for these rather complex operations will likely be aided by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Similar advancements are being made underground as well. In this edition, E&MJ also reports on robotic systems charging holes at the face.

Sustainability is also a key area where the mining industry is making tremendous improvements. More importantly, we are doing a better job of informing the public about the industry’s achievements as far as recycling and lifting the surrounding communities.

The demand for and production of raw materials has gained more of the public’s attention recently. The spotlight is on us and it’s our time to shine.

We at E&MJ and Mining Media International would like to wish all of our readers and business partners a happy and healthy Holiday Season. Take care, be safe and enjoy this edition of E&MJ.