Mine Tribute

Mine Tribute | Interview with Mike Woodhall

"Own up to your
responsibilities as stewards
of natural resources"

Mike Woodhall
Director, Mining Standards at MineRP


Mine Tribute | Interview with Mike Woodhall continues…


I graduated as a Mining Engineer at the end of 1973 and having worked for a year in Australia, emigrated to South Africa where I am still at work today. Along the way I qualified with Metalliferous Mining Certificates of Competency and completed two Master’s degrees.
Whist I have exposure to production in base metals and coal, the bulk of my production and projects career has been in precious metals. I am currently in 3D mining software where I spend much of my time helping colleagues and clients to understand mining business as a process.
I have also been on the organising committees for many mining technical schools, colloquia and conferences and the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy recently accorded me Honorary Life Fellow status

How did you first hear about mining?

I enrolled at university as an Engineering student on a Government bursary, intending to do Civil Engineering (Roads and Bridges). In year two I read about Mining Engineering in the University career newspaper. A fellow student was studying mining, it seemed like an adventurous thing to do and I arranged to work in a mine for the long vacation. I thoroughly enjoyed it, changed course of study and the rest is history.

How do you see the mining industry is heading compared to other industries?

Mining is highly cyclical and will remain so. This is due to the strictly sequential relationship between various stages of the value chain and the inherent ability to only respond slowly to changing circumstances. Production cannot be simply turned on and off like oil and gas, nor change its pattern at the whims of fashion.
Population growth and constantly evolving technological advancements will continue to be reflected in the demand for mining commodities. That demand feeds directly into manufacturing industries of many kinds.


Mine Tribute | Interview with Mike Woodhall

Areas to further improve the mining sector?

Contrast these two statements: 1) mines are becoming more remote and 2) mines pollute the environment. Mines were always remote but towns and cities sprang up around them. Pollution is not a problem since problems by definition have solutions. Rather it is something to be managed in its local context. Education of the role mining plays in society will help as will constant vigilance and technical expertise in managing long term (sometimes extremely long term) projects.

What does the future look like in the mining industry?

Great! More people, more technology therefore more mining. Skills will always lag understanding of requirements; live with it!

Is the mining sector booming right now?

Not yet but the tide has turned. Already, large mining companies with a strong sense of future planning are bemoaning the fact they cannot attract sufficient skilled workers to their properties. The immediate future should see growth.

How can we continue to build the mining sector?

Education for both professional and technical skills and understanding of mining’s role in society. Back this up with training and re-training for the necessary evolving on-site skillsets.