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|The historical development of materials engineering in the mining industry Is briefly reviewed, and some of the factors currently influencing the industry in South Africa are discussed. Material usages in various parts of the mining operation are surveyed. The predominant mechanisms in the degradation of materials in mines are wear, corrosion, and fatigue. The issue of corrosion-abrasion Is considered, but it Is concluded that abrasive wear predominates in most rock-handling and comminution applications and that, in general, little economic benefit Is to be gained in those applications by the use of existing corrosion-resistant alloys. However, alloys with a measure of corrosion resistance find profitable application elsewhere in the mining environment. The use of other engineering materials such as polymers, ceramics, al1l1inium, and various ferrous alloys may be economically viable in a variety of niche situations. Identification of the most cost-effective material in each case calls for a systematic approach and some patience.|