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If you are interested in the use of geosynthetics in mining, or seek to use geosynthetics in mining, or need as a consultant to provide your client with advice on geosynthetics in mining, or you are a manufacturer or supplier of geosynthetics to mines, then you should join us March 10 to 12th on the upcoming EduMine webcast.

Here it the link to the course.  Click on it, get the details, and register.

I am proud to be joined by experts.  Terry Mandziak of SRK is beyond doubt the world’s leading expert on heap leach pads and their design, construction, operation, and closure.  And of course the use of geosynthetics in heap leach pads.  Terry is quiet, unassuming, unassertive—but his intellect is towering, his experience vast, and his engineering instinct superb.  I am lucky to have worked with him and I am certain you will find his webcast presentations instructive, insightful, and informative. He is one of a kind and the leader of the pack.

Tarik Hadj-Hamou is an old friend.  I owe him more than I can ever repay.  He taught me so much.  He is one of the old school of geosynthetics users having studied under Ed Kavazanjian and J.P. Giroud.  And he worked for and with them for many years and continues to do so.  He is congenial, of superb intellect, and a nice person,  His wife is the best cook I know.

I have also invited a few young fellows to make twenty-minute presentations on their geosynthetics.  They are the salesmen who promote and seek to sell their product.  I know them, I like them, I respect them, and I invite them to present because I am convinced the future is theirs.  You and they can and must solve issues in mining that I cannot even conceive.  Just drink one more more drink in my remembrance when you solve the new problems using geosynthetics.

So come join us.  It is cheap when you consider the cost of conference courses or conference attendance.  We already have registrants from around the world.  Join us and them and you need not travel or stay in lousy hotels in dangerous cities.  Do it all from home or the comfort of your office.  And please speak up: ask question; offer opinions; describe your case histories; and help us advance the cause of geosynthetics in mining.

Finally note that if you attend the webcast you will also get a free copy of the proceedings of the 2014 Conference held here in Vancouver on Geosythetic Solutions in Mining.

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Today was a perfect summer day in Vancouver; although it is still officially winter.  I slept late in the sun streaming through the bedroom windows.  I rode my bicycle to and from work in the warmth of the sun, although it was a trifle cold coming home as, short of breath, I walked the hills that become steeper every year.

I did no work of note:  answer emails, chat with colleagues, edit an upcoming EduMine course presentation.  Nothing of intellectual challenge or worth.  Just what you would do on a lazy, sunny day.

I am lucky; for what does it matter if I work or do not work?   Nobody cares for my opinion, except when I tell the truth—when they get bent out of shape.  The bank manager has more of my money invested than I can touch—all I need to do is get him to support me in idleness.  I have decided to stop smoking–except my pipe–for that will save me money and make me better able to ride my bike this summer, which I intend to do until I am lean & mean like those old farts at Granville Island who are far older, skinnier, and fitter than me.

Yet my heart today could not shake off a conversation I had with a young engineer let go last week as his company is contracting as commodity prices fall.  He has three children, has just bought a new house, and is now without a job.

He has been my client.  I have done work for him.  He is a good engineer: he asks the right questions; he demands the appropriate answers; he uses my advice prudently; he advances the cause of his employer.  It was a pleasure and an honor to work for him.  I learnt and he learnt and we advance the state-of-the-art.  Yet he is laid off.  My heart bleeds for him, for I have been in this situation.

In 1983 the mining industry collapsed.  As manager SRK Vancouver, I laid off twenty, including myself and Andy Robertson.  It is a long story how we survived; but we did.

In the mid 1990s, I was told to leave a site because I challenged the incumbent privileges.  The project eventually did what I told them was the thing to do.  But only after firing me and two others.

I lost my drive some ten years ago when my then-wife of 34 years eloped with a very rich man (five cars, a private plane, monthly trips to Vegas, and lodges in Africa).  I lost my drive and care to help clients.  So I “retired” and spent years riding my bike, watching opera, and writing EduMine courses.

The point is that I have “lost” my job at least three times.  It happens in life and in mining, no less than in other walks of life.  I have survived: brushed off the dust, stood up, and moved on.  Yet still my heart bleeds for the young man with three children, a new house, and no job.  He is a good engineer and will, I trust, survive.  But what anguish and struggle until then.

Me and the young engineer I write of are but a very few examples of many more who are affected by the ups and downs of mining.  Our stories are never told as individuals.  We are but statistics for journalists.  Yet our pain and struggle is real and wrenching.  So pause if you can to help one of those laid of in the mass waves of layoffs in the current mining downturn.

 

 

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Every Sunday we would go from the mine, East Geduld, where my father was a mine captain,  to my grandmother and step-grandfather for lunch.  My step-grandfather was a winder on the mines–a job that probably no longer exists.  Joe was his name and we called him Grandpa Joe.  He has tall and ginger.  He came from Ireland, courted my grandmother who ran Ma Brett’s Boarding House as a way to survive after the death of my grandfather–leaving her three children to bring up. Continue Reading »

Last week I needed to brush up on stability analysis of waste rock dumps or embankments as they are sometimes called.  I went to the obvious sources: EduMine.  I opened the course Design  and Operation of Large Waste Dumps by Tim Eaton and Scott Broughton. In the section on Analysis they present a masterful description of the various failure modes and how to analyse them. They add this on probability of failure: Continue Reading »

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I was asked recently to comment on the factor of safety and the probability of failure.  I declined, because I have been thinking about it, using it, and writing about it forever.  I went back to one of the first pieces I wrote, The Engineer and the Probability of Failure.  You can download a copy at this link.   It was an occasional piece in a magazine in South Africa.  It is dated October 1978. I based the piece on a court case in South Africa where the judge wrote: Continue Reading »

UtilityDIVE reports at this link as follows:

Duke Energy reported its Q4 2014 earnings this week and company officials say it is preparing to pay a $100 million fine to settle the ongoing investigation into a coal ash spill into the Dan River in North Carolina.

Continue Reading »

Flexible Evaporation Solutions

Walked around the exhibit hall at the Denver SME convention.  Chatted to old friends and met new people–and learnt of new products. Suddenly my mind was cast back to my days as a kid on the East Geduld Mine in South Africa where we grew up.  The area was arid; there were no natural water bodies within two-hundred miles.  One of our favorite places was the mine’s evaporation ponds.  On our rickety bicycles we would break through the flimsy security gate and spend hours around the ponds.  They were magic: a wonderland of color and water.  Better than those fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Continue Reading »

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