Browsing Research Articles (Mining Engineering) by Issue Date
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ItemJust-in-time development model for a sub-level caving underground mine in Zimbabwe.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2003-04) Musingwini, C.; Minnitt, R.C.A.; Phuti, D.; Makwara, F.Traditionally, mineral reserves management at most underground mines in Zimbabwe focus on maintaining large mineral reserves so that the time between development and production is as long as possible. Historical data at Shabanie mine, a Zimbabwean sub-level caving underground mining operation, confirms this practice. However, the high cost of underground development means that the luxury of large buffer mineral reserves cannot be justified. Furthermore significant increases in the costs of production, exacerbated by the current unfavourable economic climate, make the wisdom of extending development workings well ahead of use questionable. Poor ground conditions at Shabanie mine, mean that some development ends have to be re-mined two or three times due to partial or complete closure between the time they are mined and the time they are utilized. In order to reduce the inordinately high support costs associated with closure of development ends a new 'Just-in-time' (JIT) approach that provides development ends as and when they are needed, has been adopted. Accordingly a model to determine an appropriate 'just-in-time' rate of development has been created. The JIT development model indicated that the mine could reduce development rates from 330 m/month in 2001, to 160 m/month in 2002 and achieve savings of about 50% on annual support costs, but still assure customers of a long-term product supply. The mine accepted the model in November 2001 and began implementing it in 2002. Results of the implementation will be reviewed in 2003. ItemFirst cycle experience of a business process re-engineering programme at Shabanie Mine.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2005-04) Musingwini, C.; Muzoriwa, C.; Phuti, D.; Mbirikira, D.In the past ten to fifteen years, many organizations have applied business process re-engineering (BPR) to significantly improve their business competitiveness or stave off closures. The mining industry in Southern Africa is no exception and documented examples can be drawn from South Africa. Although the concept is superficially simple, its application has been marked by a high failure rate of about 70 per cent because it has been generally misunderstood. Shabanie mine, a chrysotile asbestos fibre producer in Zimbabwe took cognisance of this fact by cautiously embarking on a modular BPR programme in October of 2002. A year was used as a complete cycle or module for re-evaluation of the programme. Shabanie mine adopted BPR as part of management efforts to remain competitive amid serious threats to operational viability. These threats included hyper-inflation driven rising production costs, a declining world asbestos market and a possibility that Russia could take over the shrinking world asbestos market by dumping low-priced asbestos fibre. The only competitive advantage that the mine had was the high quality of its long-fibre chrysotile asbestos. The major BPR thrust was therefore to redesign processes for improved productivity and ultimately achieve a lower cost per ton of final asbestos fibre product. In addition, corporate culture change and cost-saving were also factored into the programme. This paper discusses the implementation experience of the BPR programme at the mine. The main BPR beneficial highlights are improved productivity, sizeable cost-savings, positive corporate culture change and identification of secondary projects. One of the lessons learnt from this programme is that mining companies will have to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic if they are to sustain high levels of productivity into the future. ItemTechnical operating flexibility in the analysis of mine layouts and schedules.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2007-02) Musingwini, C.; Minnitt, R.C.A.; Woodhall, M.Often overlooked factor in the analysis of mine layouts and schedules is technical operating flexibility (or tactical flexibility), mainly due to its nebulous nature. By glossing over technical operating flexibility the resultant mine layouts and schedules may be suboptimal. The need to incorporate technical operating flexibility into the analysis and comparison of mine layouts and schedules is increasing in importance. The nature of technical operating flexibility is illustrated, previous work on valuing of operating flexibility reviewed, and a proposal made on how technical operating flexibility can be quantified for tabular reef mines by using a platinum reef deposit as a case study. Once technical operating flexibility has been quantified it becomes possible to explore its incorporation into the analysis of mine layouts and schedules and subsequent optimization processes. This paper is a revised version of a paper presented in the Proceedings of the Second International Platinum Conference, 'Platinum Surges Ahead' in 2006. The work described in this paper is part of a current PhD study at the University of the Witwatersrand. ItemModelling open pit shovel-truck systems using the Machine Repair Model.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2007-08) Krause, A.; Musingwini, C.Shovel-truck systems for loading and hauling material in open pit mines are now routinely analysed using simulation models or off-the-shelf simulation software packages, which can be very expensive for once-off or occasional use. The simulation models invariably produce different estimations of fleet sizes due to their differing estimations of cycle time. No single model or package can accurately estimate the required fleet size because the fleet operating parameters are characteristically random and dynamic. In order to improve confidence in sizing the fleet for a mining project, at least two estimation models should be used. This paper demonstrates that the Machine Repair Model can be modified and used as a model for estimating truck fleet size in an open pit shovel-truck system. The modified Machine Repair Model is first applied to a virtual open pit mine case study. The results compare favourably to output from other estimation models using the same input parameters for the virtual mine. The modified Machine Repair Model is further applied to an existing open pit coal operation, the Kwagga Section of Optimum Colliery as a case study. Again the results confirm those obtained from the virtual mine case study. It is concluded that the Machine Repair Model can be an affordable model compared to off-the-shelf generic software because it is easily modelled in Microsoft Excel, a software platform that most mines already use. This paper reports part of the work of a MSc research study submitted to the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. ItemA review of optimal planning of level and raise spacing in inclined narrow reefs.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2010-08) Musingwini, C.The subject of optimal planning of level and raise spacing for inclined narrow reef deposits has received intermittent attention over the years because the subject matter is inherently complex. Previous work has approached the problem as simply that of simultaneously minimizing the total excavation and haulage cost associated with the development workings. However, when level and raise spacing are altered, other factors such as productivity are negatively affected, thus requiring a delicate trade-off of contradicting planning or optimization criteria. The paper concludes that the problem is actually of the multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) type, contrary to traditional thinking that the planning problem is achieved solely by minimizing waste development. ItemTechno-economic optimization of level and raise spacing in Bushveld Complex platinum reef conventional breast mining.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2010-08) Musingwini, C.The Bushveld Complex is economically significant and strategically important to South Africa, thus it is imperative that optimal extraction of platinum group metal (PGM) resources on the Bushveld Complex is achieved. Optimal extraction broadly requires that the maximum amount of ore is extracted by excavating and hauling the minimum amount of waste in the shortest possible time, at the least cost, and in the safest and most environmentally acceptable manner. In open-pit mine planning this entails among other things, minimizing the waste stripping ratio, whereas in underground mine planning it includes minimizing the metres of waste development In conventional mining, the main development that is in waste or partly in waste and defines the mining grid pattern, includes levels and raises. It was prudent to consider optimizing level and raise spacing in conventional mining because the method is a prevalent mining method on the Bushveld Complex accounting for nearly 70% of platinum production. The techno-economic optimization of level and raise spacing is characteristically a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) optimization process and should therefore be analysed using MCDA techniques. The analytic hierarchy process (AHP) was the most appropriate MCDA technique for this research study. By using an orebody code named OB1 based on real geological data that was typical of Bushveld Complex platinum reef deposits, the derived optimal range of vertical level spacing was 30 m-50 m, and the optimal range of raise spacing was 180 m-220 m. The research methodology used in this study and the results obtained were received positively by the South African platinum mining Industry because for the first time in several decades, a holistic methodology and practically acceptable solution had been developed for the controversial debate of optimizing level and raise spacing for conventional mining. ItemEmpirical correlation of mineral commodity prices with exchange-traded mining stock prices.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2011-07) Nangolo, C.; Musingwini, C.Mineral commodity prices comprise one of the key criteria in the selection of mining stocks. We contend that of the three principal elements of mineral commodity prices, spot price, forward price and long-term price, one has a greater impact on the share valuation processes used by investors. This research paper examines the extent to which each of these elements influences the valuation process. The intention is to provide investors in mining stocks with a greater understanding of how fluctuations of commodity prices over time affect the prices of the mining stocks they hold, or intend to sell or buy. Three mineral commodities, gold, silver, and copper, were used as case studies, since market data on these commodities is readily available in the public domain. Nine market indices covering all three mineral commodities were selected. These are based on clearly defined criteria with the intention of eliminating ambiguity and to test for correlation with the three sets of mineral commodity prices. Nine mining companies, which were not the primary drivers of the relevant indices employed in the study, were used to validate the results obtained from the indices in order to avoid duplication of the same correlation during cross-checking. Each commodity price was adjusted for operating costs. For each market index, an average operating cost was calculated from the companies comprising its basket, while each company's annual operating costs were used for the stocks of the individual companies examined. The data was collected for the period January 2004 to October 2010. This period was further split up into three sub-periods to account for the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) period that started in mid-2008. We conclude that mining stock prices are correlated with mineral commodity prices, but with spot and forward prices exhibiting stronger correlations than long-term price. This finding should be useful for evaluation purposes. Where cash flow methodologies such as discounted cash flow or earnings per share are used to value ordinary shares and commodity prices are required to estimate future cash flows, the findings suggest that spot prices should be used as opposed to long-term prices. The work reported in this paper is part of a current MSc research study at the University of the Witwatersrand. ItemA perspective on the supply and utilization of mining graduates in the South African context.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2013-03) Musingwini, C.; Cruise, J.A.; Phillips, H.R.The South African mining industry continues to be a major source of employment at a time when at least 25 per cent of the working age population is unemployed. At the same time the industry faces a skills shortage in many of the disciplines necessary for its future health. The University of the Witwatersrand, University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg, and University of South Africa have historically produced mining graduates for the South African mining industry with any shortfall being met by the recruitment of overseas graduates. More recently, the global shortage of engineers and other mining industry professionals has seen a reversal of this trend and a very significant emigration of well-educated and highly skilled personnel. The traditional career path for mining graduates is in production and mine management. However, there is the parallel (and possibly more pressing) need for specialized skills in such fields as ventilation, rock engineering, mine planning, mineral resource evaluation, and mineral asset valuation. Chronic shortages in these essential areas continue to hamper the development of the industry and may well frustrate its ambitions to be safe, healthy, and profitable into the future. The permeability of skills across sectorial boundaries within the mining industry requires that skills shortages in the platinum sector are not looked at in isolation, but within the context of the entire industry. This paper reviews the efforts being made by the universities, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, to meet the needs of the South African mining industry in terms of the required numbers and the range of specialized skills. ItemOnline database of mine planning and peripheral software used in the South African mining industry.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2013-06) Katakwa, T.P.; Musingwini, C.; Genc, B.The utilization of software is now inherent to virtually every activity along the mining value chain. However, apart from the software survey done by Gibbs in the 1990s and work on the extent of diffusion of information and communication technology (ICT) in the South African platinum sector by Mugodi and Fleming in 2003, the nature and extent of software utilization in the South African mining industry has never been evaluated. The Mine Planning, Optimisation and Valuation (MPOV) Research Group in the School of Mining Engineering, University of Witwatersrand, therefore initiated a project to collate and analyse the current utilization of software in the South African mining industry. This was done through the development of a web-based database of the relevant software. Snowball sampling was used to collect the data because the South African mining industry is diverse and software utilization is fragmented across and within the sectors of the industry. The data was then organized into distinct categories so that the information from a variety of sources could be evaluated on the same basis. A beta version of the database can be accessed online through a user-friendly front-end platform at http://db.mining.wits.ac.za. The database is expected to help at least 13 educational institutions with decisions on facilities and training that are vital to the education of mining and mining-related professionals. Exploration, mining, and consulting companies will also benefit from information in the database relating to availability and useful combinations of software solutions. The database is also strategic to software providers by providing a better understanding of their respective relative market share along the mining value chain. An analysis of the data collated in this research shows that about 77% of the software users are mining companies, 17% are consulting companies, 3% are mineral exploration companies, and the rest are software providers and educational institutions. The software used in the South African mining industry is largely provided by Gemcom Software International, MineRP Solutions, and MRM Mining Services. CAE Mining, who in 2010 acquired the Datamine Group providing Datamine software, is also widely acknowledged as a major software supplier in South Africa, but data from them had not been obtained at the time of producing the beta version of the database due to proprietary constraints. The work reported in this paper is part of an MSc research study in the School of Mining Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. ItemDesign principles for optimizing an established survey slope monitoring system.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2014) Mphathiwa, N.; Cawood, F.T.When slope angles are designed during open pit optimization, there is a risk factor applied in steepening the slopes. The steepening of slope angles has implications for the safety and economics of the mining operation. The steeper the slope angles, the greater the probability of slope failure. Although a slope failure will result in added costs, the challenge is to compile an accurate cost-benefit exercise optimizing the economic benefits of the project without exposing mine workers and equipment to unacceptable risk of rockfalls. A balance between the safety of the operation and the economics of the investment is therefore required. The ideal situation is to have a slope monitoring system that will predict slope failure by detecting any ground movement before the actual failure occurs. This early warning will allow the risk factor to be applied with a high degree of confidence, knowing that the risk will be adequately mitigated. The objective of this paper is to provide guidelines on how to design an optimal survey slope monitoring system. It is the authors' view that for a survey monitoring system to yield desirable results, it should adhere to survey principles such as working from the whole to part and consistently cross-checking. The case study used is Jwaneng Mine, and the design strategy outlined can be used as a guideline for developing a new slope monitoring system or to optimize an existing one. ItemCokriging for optimal mineral resource estimates in mining operations.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2014) Minnitt, R.C.A.; Deutsch, C.V.Cokriging uses a sparsely sampled, but accurate and precise primary dataset, together with a more abundant secondary data-set, for example grades in a polymetallic orebody, containing both error and bias, to provide improved results compared to estimation with the primary data alone, as well as filtering the error and mitigating the effects of conditional bias. The method described here may also be applied in polymetallic orebodies and in other cases where the primary and secondary data could be collocated, and one of the data-sets need not be biased, unreliable, etc. An artificially created reference data-set of 512 lognormally distributed precious metal grades sampled at 25×25 m intervals constitutes the primary data-set. A secondary data-set on a 10×10 m grid comprising 3200 samples drawn from the reference data-set includes 30 per cent error and 1.5 multiplicative bias on each measurement. The primary and secondary non-collocated data-sets are statistically described and compared to the reference data-set. Variograms based on the primary data-set are modelled and used in the kriging of 10×10 m blocks using the 25×25 m and 50×50 m data grids for comparison against the results of the cokriged estimation. A linear model of coregionalization (LMC) is established using the primary and secondary data-sets and cokriging using both data-sets is shown to be a significant improvement over kriging with the primary data-set alone. The effects of the error and bias are filtered and removed during the cokriging estimation procedure. Thus cokriging using the more abundant secondary data, even though it contains error and bias, significantly improves the estimation of recoverable reserves. ItemThe relevance of surveying content in mining engineering education.(CONSAS Conference, 2014) O.P. Oshokoya; S. NaidooThe University of the Witwatersrand School of Mining Engineering (Wits Mining) has its origins in the South African School of Mines, which was established in 1896. It is currently recognised as one of the world’s top mining engineering schools that educate mining engineering candidates to become qualified to specialise in a variety of disciplines required in a modern mining environment. At undergraduate level, Wits mining offers one degree programme – B.Sc. in mining engineering. The role of Wits Mining has been one of successfully facilitating the continuous professional development of mining engineers and mining specialists like mine surveyors. The paper will highlight the surveying content that is relevant to the mining engineering programme according to the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) by show-casing the surveying content within the Wits Mining programme and comparing this with what is obtainable at other international schools of mining engineering, such as Aachen University (Germany), the University of Mines and Technology (Ghana) and the University of Johannesburg (South Africa). The training of mine surveyors is well established in South Africa, and Wits University is an institution where a mine surveyor can obtain a Master’s degree specialising in any one of 5 mining specialisations, including Mine Surveying. This article attempts to answer the question as to what mining engineers should know about mine surveying. The paper will also explain how mine surveying training is beneficial to a mining engineer’s career development. ItemSampling in the South African minerals industry.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2014) Minnitt, R.C.A.Although not fully accepted in South Africa, the Theory of Sampling originally proposed by Pierre Gy is fast becoming the cornerstone of sampling practice throughout the world. The growing acceptance of Gy's Theory of Sampling in South Africa can be attributed to a number of factors, chief amongst them being the development of a tradable mineral asset market, the promulgation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), the growing number of commercial and academic courses that are offered on sampling, and the regulation of the industry through internationally acceptable guidelines and rules for reporting and trading in mineral assets. The size of the South African minerals industry and the dependence of our economy on mineral production have also meant that correct sampling is of key importance to mineral trade. ISO standards have been the principal guides for producers of mineral bulk commodities who produce to customers' specifications, whereas Gy's insights have been most readily accepted by precious and base metals producers whose product is sold into metal markets. Understanding of small-scale variability is essential in the precious and base-metal industries, but detailed studies of the effects of heterogeneity have not been as productive in the bulk commodities. Sampling practices at different stages of mineral development from exploration, face sampling and grade control, ore processing and handling, metallurgical sub-sampling, point of sale sampling, and sampling in the laboratory are considered in the gold, platinum, ferrous metal, and coal industries. A summary of the impact of poor sampling in these industries is presented. Generally it appears that poor sampling practice is most likely to erode mineral asset value at the early stages of mineral development. The benefits of good sampling are considered, especially with regard to the financial implications of bias and error on large and consistent consignments of bulk commodities. ItemPerceptions of the impact of board members’ individual perspectives on the social and environmental performance of companies.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2014-11) Stacey, J.; Stacey, A.Large mining companies generally follow the distributed ownership corporate model, with a board of directors responsible for decisions that affect both shareholder value and stakeholders of the company. The board is simultaneously responsible for setting the culture and values of the corporation, which drive performance and priorities. Companies listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) commit to sustainable development in various ways, either by virtue of implementing the King Code of Governance 2009 (King III) and/or through their own public reporting on social and environmental matters. Many mining companies make public statements regarding their support for environmental stewardship, ethical behaviour, and fair treatment of communities. It is a local, regional, and indeed, global phenomenon that companies fail to deliver on these statements. Research was carried out through the Institute of Directors of Southern Africa in 2007, and followed up in 2012, regarding directors’ understanding of sustainable development issues, the relative priorities, what is needed for ‘radical change’ to effect sustainable development, and what enables or constrains the latter. Pertinent findings of both surveys are presented in this paper, and it is suggested that ‘on-the-ground’ performance may be indicative of the nature of leadership and decisions in the topmost ranks of the company. The results indicated that environmental concerns fall consistently below social issues. Financial capital ranked most important, and while environmental issues are recognized as being of strategic concern for the long-term, they ranked as being the lowest importance of all ‘Five Capitals’ (Financial, Manufactured, Social, Human, and Natural). Social capital ranked second lowest, with black economic empowerment being the only high-priority social issue. There is also evidence that certain companies within the mining sector fail to recognize their absolute dependence on natural resources. Much is made in academic and popular literature of the need for a new type of leadership for the radical shift to sustainable development: at company level this implies therefore a new type of director. The research found that only 14 per cent of directors felt that board decisions are consistent with their personal values; while intentions are strong to behave ethically and serve sustainable development, actions to give effect to these intentions lag significantly. Respondents indicated that the top impediments to courageous leadership for sustainable development related to personal issues of maintaining the image of being a director, fear of appearing weak, fear of being a lone voice, and bowing to board-colleague peer pressure. ItemEstimating mine planning software utilization for decision-making strategies in the South African gold mining sector.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2015-02) Genc, B.; Musingwini, C.; Celik, T.This paper discusses a new methodology for defining and measuring mine planning software utilization in the South African gold mining sector within an evolving data-set framework. An initial data-set showing the mine planning software providers, their corresponding software solutions, as well as the software capabilities and information on the number of licences was collected and compiled in 2012 in an online database for software utilized in the South African mining industry. Details of the database development and implementation were published in the Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in 2013. In 2014 the data-set was updated with additional and new information. Using the 2012 and 2014 timestamps, a methodology for estimating the software utilization was developed. In this methodology, the three variables of commodity, functionality, and time factor were used to define and measure the software utilization in order to ultimately inform decision-making strategies for optimal software utilization. Using six different functionalities, namely Geological Data Management, Geological Modelling and Resource Estimation, Design and Layout, Scheduling, Financial Valuation, and Optimization, utilization in the gold sector was measured. This paper presents the methodology employed for measuring the mine planning software utilization. The methodology is useful for stakeholders reviewing existing software combinations or intending to purchase new software in the near future and who want to estimate the comparative attractiveness of a certain software package. These stakeholders include mining companies, consulting companies, educational institutions, and software providers. The work presented in this paper is part of a PhD research study in the School of Mining Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. ItemParametric estimation of capital costs for establishing a coal mine: South Africa case study.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2015-08) Mohutsiwa, M.; Musingwini, C.Capital cost estimates are important in decisions on whether a project will be approved, mothballed, or abandoned. In South Africa, junior coal miners do not have extensive databases of historical projects from which to estimate capital costs. The purpose of this paper is to establish formulae that can be used for estimating capital costs of developing coal mines in a coal-producing country, using South Africa as a case study. The costs are estimated to an error of magnitude level of-30% to +50%, which is suitable for a concept study level, using a parametric estimation technique. The study uses data from completed coal mining projects from selected coal-producing countries. Three formulae are developed and presented for estimating capital costs of underground bord and pillar, surface shovel and truck, and dragline operations. ItemEstimating cost of equity in project discount rates: comparison of the Capital Asset Pricing Model and Gordon's Wealth Growth Model.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2016-03) Nhleko, A.S.; Musingwini, C.Since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in mid-2008, capital has been more difficult to access. Mining projects must contend with projects from other industries for scarce capital. A decision to invest available capital in mineral projects requires that valuation be conducted to assess the expected return on the projects. The discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis is generally applied for the valuation of mining projects, whereby future cash flows are discounted to present value using an appropriate discount rate. The discount rate significantly affects the outcome of a valuation. Economic and finance theory provides tools to calculate discount rates. The discount rate must account for factors such as the risk and stage of development of the mineral project; hence the appropriate discount rate to utilize in a project is often a subject of debate. The discount rate is the weighted sum of the cost of debt and equity. There are several methods for determining the cost of equity. This study considers the commonly applied Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and Gordon's Wealth Growth Model because of their simplicity and availability of parameters required to estimate the cost of equity. This study explores how differences in the cost of equity obtained by these two methods can be explained for a mining environment. Data for empirical analysis were collected from the I-Net Bridge, McGregor BFA, and Bloomberg databases. It was found that Gordon's Wealth Growth Model provides better estimates of the cost of equity compared to the CAPM under depressed market conditions. Therefore, this research recommends that Gordon's Wealth Growth Model be used to estimate the discount rates for mining projects during periods of depressed market conditions. ItemMine Planning and Equipment Selection (MPES 2015).(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2016-03) Musingwini, C.Extract from Comment: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM) hosted the 23rd International Symposium on Mine Planning and Equipment Selection (MPES 2015) at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg from 9 to 11 November 2015. This was the first time that South Africa has hosted the MPES in its 25-year history. This conference’s theme was ‘Smart Innovation in Mining’ in order to recognize technological innovations and new ideas that are required to prepare the industry for the mine of the future. ItemReview of support systems used in poor ground conditions in platinum room and pillar mining: A Zimbabwean case study.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2016-04) Chikande, T.; Zvarivadza, T.Falls of ground pose costly hazards to personnel and equipment and thus measures should be taken to prevent them. This study endeavours to improve the support systems used in geotechnically poor ground at a Zimbabwean platinum mine by analysing the status quo and recommending an effective support system. Various techniques were used to determine the quality of ground conditions, predict the rock mass behaviour, and to identify the appropriate rockbolt type. An analysis of the current ground control methods and their limitations was also undertaken. The results showed that the current support system and mining practices in poor ground need to be modified to improve safety and productivity. Stoping overbreak is influenced by poor ground conditions and the explosives currently used. The use of emulsion is recommended to replace ANFO. Redesigning of pillars is also recommended in poor ground conditions. An evaluation of the current roofbolt system indicated an opportunity for improvement. With new insight on the performance of the shorter length roofbolts currently in use, a new support system was recommended taking into consideration cost-benefit analysis. Barring down using pinch bars in poor ground was seen as a risky and time-consuming exercise, hence the use of mechanical scalers is recommended to achieve zero harm and to meet production targets. Smoothwall blasting is recommended in poor ground to minimize excavation damage. Other recommendations include the use of hydrological surveys to determine groundwater levels and implement corrective measures. Both empirical and numerical modelling approaches need to be utilized in determining the optimum support. ItemPresidential address: Optimization in underground mine planning-developments and opportunities.(The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy., 2016-09) Musingwini, C.The application of mining-specific and generic optimization techniques in the mining industry is deeply rooted in the discipline of operations research (OR). OR has its origins in the British Royal Air Force and Army around the early 1930s. Its development continued during and after World War II. The application of OR techniques to optimization in the mining industry started to emerge in the early 1960s. Since then, optimization techniques have been applied to solve widely different mine planning problems. Mine planning plays an important role in the mine value chain as operations are measured against planned targets in order to evaluate operational performance. An optimized mine plan is expected to be sufficiently robust to ensure that actual outcomes are close or equal to planned targets, provided that variances due to poor performance are minimal. Despite the proliferation of optimization techniques in mine planning, optimization in underground mine planning is less extensively developed and applied than in open pit mine planning. This is due to the fact that optimization in underground mine planning is far more complex than open pit optimization. Optimization in underground mine planning has been executed in four broad areas, namely: development layouts, stope envelopes, production scheduling, and equipment selection and utilization. This paper highlights commonly applied optimization techniques, explores developments and opportunities, and makes a case for integrated three-dimensional (3D) stochastic optimization, in underground mine planning.