Global Mining Research Alliance to be launched in January

TO meet the complex scientific, engineering and technical challenges facing mining, four of the world’s best mining related R & D organisations have formed the Global Mining Research Alliance (GMRA).

Staff Reporter

The initiative began last year and is expected to be launched to industry in January 2003, according to GMRA managing director, Peter E. Dietrich, with ground control issues an early point of focus.

The partners forming the GMRA are CANMET-MMSL (Canada), CSIR Miningtek (South Africa), CSIRO Exploration and Mining (Australia), in association with NIOSH (USA).

“The Alliance represents the pooling of the world’s best research expertise and laboratory facilities for the purpose of collaborative scientific research designed to benefit the industry in technologies associated with mineral exploration and resource management, mining technologies, ground control, occupational health and safety, equipment automation, mineral laboratories, and the environment. Our clients are mining companies, industry associations, governments, multi-lateral agencies, and key industry stakeholders,” Dietrich said.

The partnership has been formed as an unincorporated joint venture managed by a Board of Directors comprised of one member from each agency. The group covers a spectrum of expertise in scientific research related to mining technology in coal, base metals, precious metals, and industrial minerals.

“I have spent the last couple of months visiting the partner offices around the world to evaluate their capabilities, facilities, and common research interests. I must remark that I am astounded at the combined capabilities that the individual partners offer!” Dietrich said.

Ground control is an area that each of the partners considers to be a core competency, and as such it was a natural choice for initial collaboration. The GMRA held an international workshop on Ground Control Research at NIOSH’s Bruceton Laboratory in Pittsburgh over in October this year.

The workshop was attended by 30 experts from GMRA agencies in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia. The objectives of the workshop were to develop a better understanding of on-going research projects within the partner organizations, particularly in the fields of microseismicity and numerical modeling; to identify opportunities for intramural research collaborations that would improve worker safety and extractive methods; to formulate a clear vision for mutually beneficial research opportunities; and to develop an action plan for collaborative research projects.

Delegates were also provided an overview of NIOSH’s mining research facilities, including visits to the Lake Lynn Experimental Mine, Mine Roof Simulator Laboratory, Hearing Loss Prevention and Noise Control Laboratory, and the Respirable Dust Control Laboratory.

An outcome of the workshop included 18 draft project proposals for research collaboration, and plans to pursue a joint approach towards microseismicity and numerical modeling. Similar collaborative workshops are being considered for deep mining research and for mechanization.

“We are also pleased to have arranged our first secondment between the GMRA partners. Dr Ray Durrheim of CSIR-Miningtek in Johannesburg will be seconded to CANMET-MMSL's research facilities in Ottawa. Dr Durrheim's research interests are in the field of mine seismology and rockbursts.”

Asked about the GMRA’s future relationship with ACARP (Australian Coal Association Research Program), Dietrich said ACARP was an important potential client to the GMRA.

“We are of course sensitive to ACARP’s source of funding and domestic priorities. But I point out that many of the international companies funding ACARP have parallel requirements for improved occupational safety and the environment, natural resource management, and development of better extractive technologies at their other operations,” he said.

“The GMRA believes that superior research solutions will result from collaboration by the partners. The GMRA welcomes input from industry to direct research priorities, and we invite inquiries on how we can assist industry’s needs.”