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The first students of “Smart Mining Special Program” completed the program in September, 2023.

What are your Impressions about "Smart Mining Special Program?"

Which was the most attractive course?

How would you use the knowledge you have acquired through this program?

Akita University
Graduate School of International Resource Sciences
Resource Development Environments

A1.I joined “Smart Mining Special Program” in the first cohort. The advantage I felt in this program is you can build various expertise on resources across universities or countries and execute studying and researching with African participants who have a different background. Specifically, there were a lot of opportunities to have discussions and Q&As that were unlike my previous educational experiences. By taking lectures in this environment across various fields, I gained new ideas and felt the gap between resource-rich countries and those with limited resources.

A2.The most attractive course was “Collaborative Training of DigiMine,” visiting South Africa to understand the reality of mining development. In this course, we visited a gold mine called Drienfontein mine that operates 3,000 meters deep in South Africa. We observed mine tunnels where there was blasted timbering located nearly 1,000 meters deep. Current risks have been increasing gradually in the mining development site due to poor engineering standards and the depths involved, but I felt it was unacceptably dangerous because of spring water from a side road and its risk of entering the steep slope into the tunnel. Viewing real on-site risks reinforced and contextualized what we learned in class about the importance of ICT, “smart mining,” and Digital Twin technology to ensure “safety” at mining sites.

A3.Due to the global population-driven increase in the demand for resources along with insufficient safety standards, the supply cost/risk ratio has been increasing. In addition, factors such as environmentally-friendly development, global supply chain disruptions, and geo-political instability will only increase future risks. Therefore, I would want to be a person who can support its technologies for resource developments for future in Japan and resource-rich countries by applying the specialized knowledge I have gain during my studies.

Kyushu University Graduate School
Common Resources
Bedrock/Development Machine System Engineering Lab.
OTA Yuka

A1.Initially, I wasn't sure how much I could learn, having already been a student in the resources field. But my skepticism changed after attending lectures from instructors at three different universities, all available on-demand. I got to try programming and group work, things I'd never done before, which made me realize there was so much to learn. Not only did the program exposed me to lectures from African experts and allowed me to gain practical knowledge through mine visits, it also helped me improve my English and cooperative abilities. I'm really happy to be part of this program and grateful to everyone involved.

A2.There were so many interesting courses in this program, but specifically I was into collaborative courses. These courses were divided into two, each one had around one week that was short-term. In “Collaborative Training of Humanities,” conducted in the first year, I gained global perspectives that I never had in my head by interacting with African students as we searched for solutions to the tasks together. Also, in “Collaborative Training of DigiMine,” we went to resource-rich South Africa. All lectures I took there were so new to me and interesting, my view on mining was expanded. Moreover, I got to see mines which are on a different scale from those in Japan and mines with minerals not found here. I had a productive time because I could experience “authentic mining.”

A3.I would like to use all my newfound knowledge of smart mining and programming for my own research and to take part in development of the mining industry in the future. I especially do not have confident on image analysis methods that I am currently using, so I would like to attempt improvement with the programming knowledge I have learnt. I was able to acquire expertise and communication ability with people from other countries who do not even speak English. From those precious experiences, I hope to make use of skills when I work with people who have different culture/language/research so that I can become a global person.

University of the Witwatersrand
Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE)
Muhammad Ahsan Mahboob

A1.I am truly impressed by the "Smart Mining Special Program." Using Japan's expertise in natural resources, this initiative represents a remarkable endeavor to train future global leaders in the field of Smart Mining. The program's commitment to encouraging the skills required to achieve a balance between effective resource development and environmental conservation is both valuable and essential for economic development in resource-rich Southern African countries. The coursework-based program, with its emphasis on practical skills and advanced technical knowledge, equips participants with the necessary tools for the future of resource informatics, in accordance with the principles of "Industrial 4.0" and "Society 5.0." Together with lectures on smart mining and machine learning at Akita University in Japan, the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in world-class Digital Mining Laboratory (DigiMine) at Wits University in South Africa adds significant practical value to the program. In addition, the cultural experience component of the program provides a unique opportunity to immerse the individuals in the diverse cultures of South Africa and Japan, nurturing a greater appreciation for global perspectives. Globally, the Smart Mining Special Program not only imparts valuable knowledge, but also instills an international perspective, empowering participants to make significant contributions to the mining industry and global environmental sustainability.

A2. I found every course in the Smart Mining Program to be very attractive and valuable. The program's focus to providing a comprehensive educational experience was reflected in the variety of courses it offered. Each course, whether delivered online, on-demand, or in-class, was exceptional in its content depth, bridging the gap between theory and practical applications. However, two courses stood out to me as particularly interesting. The first was the Digital Mining Technologies course that we had the opportunity of taking at DigiMine, Wits University in South Africa, during our stay. This course provided invaluable insights into the most recent technological advancements in mining and their practical applications. The second was the Machine Learning training for Hyperspectral Image Classification that we received at Akita University in Japan. This course offered a one-of-a-kind opportunity to develop practical expertise in cutting-edge technology. In general, the Smart Mining Program has exceeded my expectations by providing an educational experience that combines technical knowledge and hands-on experience. I appreciate the program's dedication to preparing us to be leaders in the field of Smart Mining who have the expertise to contribute to a positive impact in Japan and Southern Africa.

A3.The Smart Mining Program provided me with more than technical knowledge; additionally, it has broadened my global perspective and enhanced my abilities in integrating resource development with environmental conservation. My journey of learning from South Africa's world-class Wits University's Digital Mining Laboratory (DigiMine) to Japan's esteemed Akita University has equipped me with advanced skills and a comprehensive knowledge of the complex dynamics of modern mining. This program's collaborative nature, which involves peers from various African countries and Japan, strengthens its impact. Our collective efforts, diverse points of view, and shared challenges have created a web of enriched knowledge and mutual development. We established a network that crosses geographical boundaries, demonstrating the global perspective of the program. I am committed to contributing beneficial, innovative, and ethical solutions to the mining industry. Every interaction and lesson from this program act as a catalyst, prompting me to cultivate a mining landscape which values and benefits both people and the environment. This transformative journey through the Smart Mining Program has provided me with collective wisdom and a collaborative spirit to contribute positively to the mining industry and society.