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From code to cowl: Head of ‘DigiMine’ gets his PhD

- Wits University

Head of Sibanye Stillwater Digital Mining Laboratory graduates with a PhD in engineering from Wits.

Dr Muhammad Ahsan Mahboob at Wits 2024 July graduations

In a graduation ceremony that took place at Wits Great Hall on 8 July 2024, Dr Muhammad Ahsan Mahboob who is Head of Digital Mining Laboratory (DigiMine), was conferred his PhD in engineering, from a School of Mining Engineering, Wits University.

Mahboob’s PhD thesis A data science framework for mineral resource exploration and estimation using remote sensing and machine learning focuses on combining data science, satellite imagery, and machine learning to revolutionise mineral exploration. By swiftly identifying prospective mineral-rich sites, especially in remote areas, it accelerates critical mineral extraction. This contributes significantly to green technology production, advancing global sustainability and climate change mitigation.

 “This PhD has a big positive impact on society, and it will truly add more value to the DigiMine facility to accelerate the research and innovation that is currently underway. It will also have a long-term positive impact on both my personal and professional goals at Wits," said Mahboob.

The engineering PhD graduate was appointed to his current role as the Head at Sibanye-Stillwater Digital Mining Laboratory (DigiMine) at the University of Witwatersrand in 2019. This follows his works in research and innovation in the applications of digital technologies in the mining industry to make the mines of the future more safe, secure and sustainable. His research interests include geoinformatics, spatial data analysis, data sciences and modelling and cyber-physical systems integration.

The DigiMine is a state of the art and one-of-a-kind laboratory. The laboratory aims to make mining safer and more sustainable, using digital technologies. These technologies will enable a mine’s control system to autonomously observe, evaluate and take action, including moving towards real-time responses.

With Mahboob leading a highly-skilled team, researchers at DigiMine conduct tests, research and development, and seek innovation, transferring surface digital technologies into the underground mining environment. The research at DigiMine involves deep partnerships with commercial, academic, and industry entities.

‘’it’s  a dream come true graduating from one of the top universities in the world and one of the top in the continent as well. I am excited to be the doctor at Wits University,” he said.