1994 will be remembered by us as quite a watershed year. Not only was it the year of South Africa's first democratic election, but it is also the last year we will be spending in our present home. Deb and I have spent eleven very happy years in our present house in Germiston, but now we must move on.
We have had to make some fairly important choices and decisions with regard to schooling for David and Sarah. David is due to begin primary school and Sarah is due to begin nursery school next year. These would be fairly important choices at the best of times, but we have had to make the decision in the midst of a rapidly changing political and educational system. After much thought and visiting many schools, we have decided to send them to Christian private schools in Randburg, as we believe this will provide a caring and nurturing environment, with small classes and high academic standards. David, in particular, needs a small class with individual attention in order to flourish, as he is very strong in some areas (understanding of scientific concepts, and language) and weak in others (drawing and handwriting). To make this a practical proposition, we do unfortunately have to move house from Germiston to Randburg -- not very far in actual distance, but a very difficult decision to make to move away from our very comfortable arrangement of being next door to Mom & Dad.
We are pleased that the people who have bought our house are a nice family, with a son about a year older than David. Also, after much house-hunting, we have found a house in Randburg that is within walking distance of the school David will attend (and Sarah will attend in three years' time), and is less than 5 km from Mintek. The house is just less than half an hour's drive from our present home. At this stage, we are set to move in on 1 January 1995, unless the tenants presently renting the house are able to move a few days before their lease expires.
Mintek has also been keeping me quite busy with numerous interesting projects. At the beginning of the year, I worked on improving the metallurgical accounting at a local platinum producer. We have also commissioned a new plasma furnace facility (comprising two interlinked plasma furnaces and a lead-splash condenser). Our first tests have been carried out for an American lead company where we have applied Mintek's Enviroplas process to the treatment of zinc-containing lead blast furnace slag, by vaporising the zinc, thereby converting a hazardous waste material into an innocuous slag, with a saleable grade of zinc being produced as a by-product. At the moment I am doing the pyrometallurgical process design (using my Pyrosim computer program) for a feasibility study on a nickel, copper, and cobalt deposit in the Eastern Transvaal. This is a very interesting project, and stands a good chance of being implemented in practice. After this project is over, I really hope that I can get back to work on my PhD project again. Along the way, I have also managed a promotion to Chief Engineer (from Engineer-In-Training to Engineer to Senior Engineer to Principal Engineer to Chief Engineer).
Deb has been doing a course in Christian Counselling, held at RAU (together with my Mom), and has enjoyed it very much. Next year, she will resume her studies in psychology through the University of South Africa (UNISA).
Despite the very busy year we have had, we managed a couple of local holidays, visiting the Pilanesberg National Park in February, and Umdloti (a coastal resort north of Durban) in August. I also paid a brief two-day visit to Botswana during November, to visit the BCL nickel-copper flash-smelting plant. We also hosted three Russian visitors during September, and arranged a number of technical visits for them.
We are preparing to spend almost two weeks at the Cavern resort in the Drakensberg mountains with my Mom & Dad, Lynne, and Jason. We are really looking forward to the holiday, knowing that we will be very busy packing and moving house when we return.
Rodney, Debbie, David, and Sarah