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Great surveyors are the key to success

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Mine surveying is one of the key functions in mining, and the mine surveyor is essential to the welfare of the mining industry. Image credit: Flickr.

Great surveyors are the key to success

Mine surveying is one of the key functions in mining, and the mine surveyor is essential to the welfare of the mining industry, writes L.M. Louw for WhyAfrica.  

The role of a mine surveyor in the success of a mining operation is often underplayed. However, measurement is of the utmost importance. As the saying goes: If it can’t be measured, it can’t be mined.

Mining surveyors are responsible for the accurate measurement of areas and volumes mined, and the precise representation of the surface and underground situation on mining plans.

Construction and engineering surveyors play an extremely important role in any construction project. Construction surveying can take many forms. It is used to establish the location and alignment of civil works, steel structures, mechanical components, highways, bridges, buildings, pipes, and other man-made objects. After large-scale projects are completed, an “as-built” survey is performed to locate any modifications that were made to the plans during construction.

No progress without surveyors

According to Chacques Van Der Vyver, owner of Global Engineering & Mining Survey Services, surveyors are of paramount importance as there can be no progress without positions and direction.

“Ultimately all structures, civil work, and rails, for example, need to be constructed according to design specification and it must be co-ordinated to form a world class system/installation that runs smoothly.

In mining there are regulations, laws and factors like mining rights, and mining boundaries, for instance, to consider. Geological factors like pillar widths and excavation heights are important as is the direction of mining and extracting the required grade. “It is the responsibility of the surveyor to ensure that these laws are obeyed and to report any substandard mining practices to the mine manager,” says Van Der Vyver.

He adds that the most difficult challenge for a surveyor or a survey company is that one needs to establish a base which corresponds or ties in, or is co-ordinated in relation with the rest of the workings, especially on brown fields projects. “Another challenge is to use a trustworthy system to ensure that there is no room for error, as this could ultimately make or break any project,” he says.

Day to day activities of a surveyor

A surveyor performs a whole range of day-to-day activities. In mining, production is the most important objective.

Nevertheless, activities might include planning which development ends require pegs, grades for mining, and planning for drilling and blasting. Survey notes are required to assist miners.

Maintaining the control network plays a major role. Neglecting this function can cause miss-hole, offline and off-grade mining, not intersecting the planned minerals and excavations to overbreak.

In case of accidents, the surveyor will to an Accident Investigation Survey and draft an accident plan for the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). In the report he/she notes everything including the position and elevation on that specific plan.

A few additional responsibilities of a surveyor include draughting and maintenance of complete mine plans, rehabilitation monitoring and control, lease management, asset and service locations, water level monitoring, statuary plans and generating survey notes for secondary support as recommended by the geologist.

In the construction sector the day-to-day activities of the surveyor will be purely about planning.  In addition to the planning and execution of the physical survey work there is updated IFC drawings that change from time to time that need to be incorporated into the live working drawing.

The control network on construction also plays a big role and to minimise the error factor required various check surveys and interface checks and verifications.

Global Engineering & Mining Survey Services

Surveying specialist Global Engineering & Mining Survey Services has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, and they operate across Africa.

“We enjoy complex challenges and even though we thrive during change, we work systematically and methodically. We value delivering services of the highest quality and meeting deadlines, every time,” says Van Der Vyver.

He adds that the team works continuously upgrades and adapt new and innovative technology. “Great surveyors are the key to success,” he says.

“We pride ourselves by using the newest and state of the art technology available on the market and adapt to change when it comes to new and more efficient instrumentation. We use the following state of the art instruments: Leica Total Stations (TS-07 Total Stations and MS-60 Robotic Total Stations); GPS (GNSS and TPS Systems) – Trimble R8s, Trimble R10; 3D Laser Scanners Digital Levels (Electronic Dumpy Level) – Leica LS 10.

“Global Engineering & Mining Survey Services was established with the aim to make a positive difference in the mining and construction industry. We initially started as consultants and later transformed to onsite survey management,” says Van Der Vyver.

Great surveyors are the key to success.

Global Engineering & Mining Survey Services provides surveying and survey management services to South Africa and the greater African continent. The company specialises in mining and construction survey services – managing projects from inception to completion on both brownfield and greenfield projects.The company initiates all projects by determining their clients’ needs, requirements, and aspirations, and assist them to bring their vision to life. Global Engineering & Mining Survey Services are young energetic professionals with a passion for precise and accurate outcomes.

 For more information contact Chacques Van Der Vyver



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