Wits University’s School of Mining Engineering in Johannesburg recently celebrated the award of an Emeritus Professorship to its long-serving and distinguished JCI Professor of Mineral Resources and Reserves, Richard (Dick) Minnitt.
Speaking at the event at Wits University in July, head of school Professor, Cuthbert Musingwini, praised Professor Minnitt’s scholarly contribution over many years. Having taught at the School since 1995 when he was appointed Senior Lecturer, Professor Minnitt has become well known as a leading expert in mineral resources and reserve estimations. Before his teaching years, he was a research officer at Wits University’s Economic Geology Research Unit, going on to work as a mine geologist for Anglo American Corporation and as a consulting geologist.
Becoming an associate professor in 2000 and a full professor in 2001, he has successfully supervised 13 doctoral students to graduation – two of whom have become Heads of the Wits School of Mining Engineering. He has also supervised 23 MSc students.
In the field of research and publishing, Professor Minnitt has been both prolific and well-respected; he holds the revered status of C-rated researcher with the National Research Foundation (NRF) and has published 73 peer-reviewed papers. His experience has also allowed him to assist the NRF in evaluating the quality of research outputs for entities at other universities.
Three of his papers have been awarded silver medals by the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM). The most recent of these was awarded in 2017 for a paper on Pierre M Gy’s equation for gold-bearing ores, published in the February 2017 issue of the SAIMM Journal. Previously, the SAIMM had honoured him in 2014 for a paper on the allocation of gold production from multiple shafts feeding a common treatment plant using run-of-mine sampling of ore deliveries, and also in 2008 for a paper on sampling’s impact on costs and decision making.
Another accolade bestowed on him recently was at the Eighth World Conference on Sampling and Blending 2017 in Perth, Australia – when he received the Pierre M Gy Sampling Gold Medal, sponsored by Australia’s government research agency CSIRO and the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM).
His research interests are wide, including the sampling of particulate and in-situ materials, cut-off grades and their effects on mineral resources and mineral reserves estimation, and the application of geostatistics in mineral evaluation – as well as mineral economics and marketing of mineral products.
Teaching has been a large part of Professor Minnitt’s duties, focusing at undergraduate level on technical valuation and open-pit mining. At post-graduate level, his teaching topics are far-ranging – from the theory and practice of sampling, theoretical simulation techniques and beneficiation economics, to decision-making for mining investments, compliance and reporting in the minerals industries, and environmental economics.
Professor Minnitt shares his expertise and insights as a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Minerals Policy and Economics, Resources Policy – devoted to minerals policy and economics. He also reviews articles related to sampling theory and practice, mineral economics, mine economics and geostatistics for the SAIMM Journal.
His professional memberships indicate the academic and geographic scope of Professor Minnitt’s impact during his career to date, and include being a fellow of both the SAIMM and the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. He is also a fellow of the Geological Society of South Africa (GASA) and a past-president and life member of the Geostatistical Association of South Africa (GSSA).