UJ in collaboration to help mining industry embrace 4IR

Paul Moore

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has collaborated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to help mining companies embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies and modernise their operations.

  The mining industry, globally and in Africa, has entered a new era in which automation technologies are increasing at a rapid rate. This means there is an increased need for this sector to embrace technologies and become innovative in the production processes.

  This collaboration aims to ensure the future sustainability of the mining sector, immersed in new technology development initiatives, over the next five years. In this regard, UJ’s Institute Intelligent Systems (IIS) will offer research-based scientific knowledge on modern mining practices that incorporate the use of 4IR technologies.

  The Director at UJ’s IIS, Professor Paul Babu said: “Many mining companies in South Africa and on the African continent still use ancient and traditional production practices. The MOU marks a new milestone that leads to research-based policy formulation geared towards assisting the sector in South Africa and Africa.”

  He said in addition to smart mining, the undertaking includes facilitating mutual sharing of best practices and expertise in health and safety, automation, e-government, robotics, Artificial Intelligence and augmented reality. Others are the Internet of Things, distributed ledger technology, smart mobility, defence and security.

  “Working with CSIR is in line with South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for the country to embrace 4IR and the opportunities it presents.  At UJ, we acknowledge the importance to form strategic partnerships, from government and corporate business to develop, localise and diffuse technologies to accelerate socioeconomic prosperity for South African citizens,” Prof Babu said.

  He added that technology is an invisible and critical part of the country’s prosperity, and it is our role as researchers, scientists and academics to work together to find solutions through innovative efforts across the board.

  Representing the CSIR, Professor Adnan Abu-Mahfouz, Acting Head of Emerging Digital Technologies for 4IR (EDT4IR) Research Centre and Professor Extraordinaire at the Tshwane University of Technology, said the EDT4IR research Centre is focusing on Advanced Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligent, Augmented Reality and Distributed Ledger Technologies. “Therefore, the CSIR-UJ partnership will contribute to the human capital development in these state-of-the-art 4IR technologies both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.’’

  Professor Abu-Mahfouz said such collaboration will open the door to conduct multidisciplinary application-driven and industrial-based projects. That would contribute to address some of the major challenges across various domain such as energy, health, education, agriculture. 

  “The EDT4IR research Centre is very active in the mining industry. For example, we developed an IoT product called RockPulse, which provides early warning of large rockfalls in underground mines. Considering that the fall-of-ground is the leading cause of fatality in underground mines, the adoption of RockPulse by underground mines will reduce the fatality rate and save many lives,” Professor Abu-Mahfouz added.

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