Meet Thabang – Open Pit Solution Lead at the Datamine Africa office who joined the company in 2018. Thabang is a Mining Engineer with 5 years of experience in the mining industry which all started with his exposure to a Platinum mine in Rustenburg, South Africa. Get to know Thabang a little better in the interview below:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Based in South Africa, I am a Mining Engineer with almost 5 years combined experience. I started my professional career in 2017 as a Graduate Mining Engineer at Maseve Platinum Mine (underground mechanised mine). While rotating through different technical departments at the mine, I ended up in the Mine Planning department. That is where I got a bit of exposure to mine planning which influenced my move to Datamine the following year. I joined Datamine in 2018 as an intern in the open pit planning space.
I am currently the Solution Lead for the open pit planning solutions at the Datamine Africa office. My primary focus is on provision of professional services (project consultancy and management) as well protecting and growing software maintenance revenue. I have also been slightly exposed to the business development side of things at Datamine Africa.
What is it like to work at Datamine?
Being part of Datamine has been a rewarding and fun experience. Datamine has a flexible, casual and pleasant work culture. From the get go, irrespective of the position, you are trusted with resposiblities and given the opportunity to directly contribute to the corporate goals. What I have enjoyed the most is collaborating with my co-workers at all levels of the company from all over the world. What also stands out for me is the fact that you are not boxed in terms of what you want to learn and develop, as well as the path that you want to take in the company.
It is really satisfying to work with professionals that you always learn from and they always support and guide you to be the best that you can be. Majority of the things that I do currently come from what I have learnt in here at Datamine.
What inspired your career in this industry?
To be honest, my decision to pursue a career in Mining Engineering was influenced by my sports teacher back in primary school. So as I grew and started doing research, the idea of being a Mining Engineer started to make more sense. I wanted a career that is challenging, with a lot of problem-solving and an opportunity to spend time working outdoors. I have recently learnt that my dad worked in the mines a long time ago. So its fair to say mining runs in the family
Every open pit mine has its own Mine Planning challenges and fortunately Datamine has a number of open pit planning solution which can be used to solve the challenges. So during consulting sessions, we work with clients to see how we can assist them using the solutions that we have and the technical capabilities of our team. Some of the questions we have been able to answer include schedule optimisations, dumping strategies, material blending and many more. Curveballs and changes are part of the game when you do consulting work, which sometimes means working under intense conditions and sacrificing personal time here and there in order to submit work to client’s expectations.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your role / the work you do?
If there is one thing that I have enjoyed over time here at Datamine is building meaningful relationships with clients, delivering quality projects and helping clients to solve technical problems. Besides that, one of my biggest joys is sharing the knowledge and experience that I have acquired in the company with the rest of the team and seeing them flourish and being better than they were yesterday. Being afforded the opportunity to travel to other countries and learn about the world outside my bubble
What are your best memories from your career?
My career is still relatively fresh but it has been packed up with a lot of great memories – its been fun. Some of the best memories from my previous job includes firing my first blast underground and having the opportunity to presenting the outcomes of one of my investigation to the company CEO. When I think of my journey here at Datamine, my first thought goes to the first project I did with Bruno Abilleira (which was also presented to a company CEO so you get the vibe haha). Thereafter, since every big project has its own ups and downs, the end of each is a beautiful memory especially when you see the client smiling. I also enjoyed and learnt a lot while I was chairing the Open Pit Planning virtual conference this year, something that I will cherish forever. The last one would be the first time I went out of South Africa, I was going to give training in Guinea. A very interesting trip
What’s a fun fact about you?
After I was invited to a fashion parade in 2017, I gave myself 5 years to be a recognised fashion model – I still have a year to go.