Energy Expenditure of Mining Tasks and the Need for the Selection of Labourers

Morrison, J. F. ; Wyndham, C. H. ; Mienie, B. ; Strydom, N. B. ; Martinson, M. J.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 11, 1968
Contribution to discussion M. J. Martinson (Associate Member)*: Application of the simple selection test mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of the paper (reference to a more detailed description of the test would not have been inappropriate) should assist South African mining engineers to make more efficient and possibly more humane use of available labour. The authors mention that the test 'is in use in the gold mining industry', and it would be interesting to know the extent of this usage in terms either of number of mines or as a percentage of the total number of labourers employed on 'heavy' tasks. The paper would have been of greater interest had the authors attempted to relate their findings to the statistics of labour usage in gold mines, members of the Chamber, and to the 'heavy' tasks in particular. On this the authors confine themselves in their Introduction to the somewhat ambiguous statement that 'A relatively high proportion of the 360,000 Bantu mine labourers are employed underground on manual tasks'. To appreciate the practical significance of the authors' work one needs a detailed breakdown of the underground labour force by occupations, together with estimates of quantities such as: (a) total stope and development tonnages moved manually per shift: by shovelling by shovel/tram by tramming together with distances and any other relevant data; (b) theoretical energy expenditures required to accomplish (a); (c) actual energy expenditures required to a accomplish (a); (d) energy theoretically available to accomplish (a) based on 50 per cent of the total maximum oxygen intakes of the labour force allocated to these tasks. Analyses of this sort on an industry basis might demarcate the more promising areas for detailed investigation. Stress is often laid on the need for increased mechanisation to increase stope productivity, but it may be questioned if enough is known about the characteristics, performance and potential of our underground labour force to warrant blind acceptance of stope mechanization as the industry's panacea. Provided that health and safety are not compromised, the ultimate yardstick for assessing any form of stoping is profitability; obviously the industry must investigate very thoroughly any form of mechanization which might reasonably be expected to increase profitability, but it should also be remembered that a radical overhaul of existing systems-which have after all evolved by trial and error over the past 75
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