Johannesburg Forum Speakers: Abstracts and Bios

Alex Fenn, Manager, New Technology and Innovation, Sibanye-Stillwater

Presentation: Realising Short-Term Value by Understanding Digital Maturity


Despite a general misperception that conventional mining operations are not data-rich environments, Sibanye-Stillwater hypothesised that its operations are in fact data rich and that we could embark on explorative data and analytical initiatives without requiring additional infrastructure. In order to test the hypothesis, a comprehensive assessment was done, on a number thematic elements of the mining value chain which determined the digital maturity of those elements, as well as, where opportunity exists to leverage current data from an analytical perspective.

Through the assessment, a particular element showed significant potential, that being; processing facilities. The discovery was somewhat counterintuitive as the facility in question was built in 1972 with limited upgrades and rudimentary instrumentation and control systems. A pilot project was run in which disparate sets of data were integrated into a data lake and deep learning algorithms were applied to understand the plant in extreme detail from an advanced analytical perspective. While the outcome was to be expected in an empirical sense, a number of opportunities were identified that would yield significant value in the form of process improvements from an efficiency, cost and recovery standpoint, resulting in significant monetary improvements.

The presentation will give a high level view of the digital aturity assessment as well as the finer detail of the analytical process improvement project.


Alex is a professionally registered mechanical engineer and has been intricately involved in transport and machinery, as well as technology, in mining, for the majority of his career. His current role includes conceptualizing, developing, and implementing innovative safety and productivity improvement solutions, for all aspects of the mining value chain, in conventional and trackless deep level tabular mining operations. As portfolio manager of the Safe Technology function, Alex manages Sibanye-Stillwater’s multidimensional research and development programmes, which extend across the SA region. Alex also plays an integral role in Sibanye-Stillwater’s engineering discipline in ensuring compliance in terms of legislation applicable to his portfolio.

Stephane Cantin, Vice President, Execution Excellence, Ramjack Technology Solutions

Presentation: Solving the skills equirements for operational improvements


Stephane Cantin is a Canadian mining engineer who has dedicated over 20 years of his career to technology in mining.  Early in his career he worked in mining operations, and then prior to joining Ramjack he worked for mine planning software providers and real-time technology providers.



Johnny van den Berg, Director – Unified Mineral Inventory Management, MineRP Holdings Pty Ltd

Presentation Title: Short Interval Control in a Digital Mine


Johnny started his mining career in 1979 as a surveyor and spent most of his career in the Mine Technical Services (MTS) discipline in a managerial level. As a Mineral Resources Practitioner he was responsible for ore accounting, mine planning and mineral reserves management.

Johnny is currently deployed by MineRP as a thought leader in the conceptualising, development and implementation of unified and integrated mine planning systems and solutions. Integration takes place within the silos of the MTS discipline and unification enables inter-domain interoperation between MTS and other domains such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.

Value to the customer is realised along the whole mining value chain due to improved business processes enabled through the visualising of spatially-aware data on a common canvas. This integrated platform allows the maintenance of original master data which would normally be destroyed with amalgamation. Johnny’s particularly strong understanding of spatial awareness and the power of spatial referencing allows him to unlock value previously lost in the transitioning of data to information and ultimately to intelligence.

Andrew Scott, Principal Innovator, Symbiotic Innovations

Presentations: Implementation of Autonomous Systems: A Guideline to Leverage Lessons Learned and Underground Communications Infrastructure


Andrew Scott has been involved in the mining innovation arena since the very beginning of his career over 30 years’ ago. Having studied biotechnology and computer science at the University of Queensland, he was drawn to the mining industry as a means of funding his ongoing study.

As a young field assistant, he quickly found himself fulfilling the role of “go-to” person for any new technology that needed to be investigated or implemented. If ever he felt that a position within a company wasn’t giving him technology exposure, Andrew discovered that he would engineer himself into those roles. The latest example is when Michelle Ash became Chief Innovation Officer at Barrick, he made sure that he was on her team delivering on their digital strategy as Senior Director Innovation.

Since 2012, Andrew has been Incoming Chairman, Chairman, Outgoing Chairman and Working Groups Chair of Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) and thoroughly enjoys working with motivated and passionate people to improve the industry through collaboration, guidelines, and innovation.

As Senior Director, Innovation/Digital Mining at Barrick, Andrew had the scope of providing technology support for the entire mining process, which includes everything from exploration, feasibility, construction, production, reconciliation, through mine closure. In addition, Andrew represented Barrick on the OSI Soft Client Advisory Board, collaborating with representatives from other OSI Soft customers from other industries, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Andrew has recently taken up the position of Principal Innovator at Symbiotic Innovations and coupled with his concurrent role as CORE Skills Facilitator, he is enthusiastic about further supporting the resource sector’s successful digital transformation.

Robert Brazier, Senior Geologist, Vertical & Technical Growth Division, Palabora Mining Company

Presentation: Cave Tracking of Lift II at the Palabora Copper Block Cave Mine


Robert Brazier is currently a Senior Geologist for Palabora Mining Company, situated in Phalaborwa, Limpopo province. He has over ten years’ experience in the Geoscience field. His career started in 2009 as an Anglo American Platinum Graduate, based at Mogalakwena’s Open Pit platinum mine. In 2010 he was promoted to Section Geologist, where he focused on in-pit geological mapping, RC drill project management, grade control and block modelling.

In 2013 Robert joined Palabora Mining Company as a Senior Geologist within the Geotechnical Department. His responsibilities have ranged from managing and improving the underground mapping section, pit wall monitoring systems and resource modelling. More recently his focus has shifted to the design and implementation of systems, to assist in the management of the Lift II block cave undercutting and cave tracking process, as well as the associated geological/geotechnical challenges that come with it.

Luke Clements, Regional Vice-President – Africa, Newtrax

Presentation Title: IoT and Artificial Intelligence


For several years, great changes have been taking place in the underground mines of the world. More and more data is being collected at each stage of the extraction process, at ever increasing frequency and accuracy via the use of IoT instruments. In this context, the use of this IoT data poses new challenges of analysis and prediction. This presentation will discuss the various Machine Learning techniques used to extract value out of this data and examples of real-world applications by Newtrax. Predictive maintenance of mobile equipment and schedule optimization will be covered among other subjects.


Luke Clements brings to Newtrax over 20 years of experience introducing new technologies in underground hard rock mines around the world. Luke started a degree in Engineering at Victoria University and has become a specialist in Automation and Mobile Equipment Telemetry over the years. Luke’s previous industry experience, in conjunction with over 20 years in the mining industry, has given him a clear understanding and unique perspective on how Operational Technology can deliver business improvements for mining companies throughout the Africa region, no matter their size, complexity or maturity level.

Miranda Wilson, Specialist: GIS and MIS, AngloGold Ashanti

Presentation Title: Driving digitalisation through geospatial enablement


Miranda Wilson is the Spatial integration specialist for the Continental Africa Region Office at AngloGold Ashanti. Her work focuses on identifying opportunities for business improvement through the use of geospatial technologies and MIS solutions and then implementing these solutions across the different mine sites. Her implementation of the ArcGIS for Mining platform at AngloGold Ashanti recently won the highly prestigious Special Achievement in GIS award from ESRI, the leading supplier of GIS software globally. This platform provides a web-based, self-service mapping platform which allows end-users to access mobile apps, tools, dashboards and reports from a range of systems that have been integrated within the platform to assist with informed and spatially enabled decision making. Miranda holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Wits University, and worked in a range of different industries before joining AngloGold Ashanti in 2013.

Renier Strydom, African Regional Manager, MICROMINE

Presentation Title: Automating L-H-D Cycle Data Capture with Machine Vision and Deep Neural Networks


It’s a R&D project MICROMINE is currently working on with our Pitram product using AI computer vision techniques in an effort to remove the LHD operator involvement while capturing L-H-D cycle data.


Renier Strydom has 15 years experience providing the industry with Intuitive Mining Solutions from MICROMINE. He has a Bachelor of Commerce degree with specialisation in Information Systems and Business Management from UNISA. He was directly involved with numerous international projects in both operational and project management capacities. Renier’s speciality is Fleet Management and Mine Control solutions. As Regional Manager, he is currently responsible to grow all areas of MICROMINE’s business in Africa.

Heather Ednie, Managing Director, GMG

Presentation: GMG: Global Collaboration to Drive Innovation


Heather Ednie is an influential mining professional who has more than 20 years’ experience in the sector, developing and spearheading vital business solutions through communications and association management.

Since 2012, she has been the Managing Director of Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG), a network of representatives from mining companies, OEMs, OTMs, research organizations and consultants around the world who recognize that innovation does not happen in silos. GMG creates multi-stakeholder working groups to systematically remove the impediments to building safe, sustainable and innovative mines of the future.

Prior to joining GMG she led a young communications consulting firm, Modica Communications, focused on serving the Canadian mining sector with the aim of advancement of a safe, responsible and respected industry. From 2004 to 2009, as Director, Media and Communications for the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), Heather successfully reinvented the CIM communications and editorial department as the relevant source of information for the industry.

Heather served as Vice-Chair of Women in Mining Canada and is a founding member of the Women in Mining Montreal Branch organizing committee. Heather has received the CIM Distinguished Lecturer Award and was recognized in WIM UK’s 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining.


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