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Transcending the Mining Discipline Divide – Multidisciplinary, Interdisciplinary or Transdisciplinary?


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Author J Coombes


In today’s challenging climate of reduced staffing, limited funding and uncertain markets, we are called on to operate more productively and ‘be more innovative’. As an industry, we are quick to identify our practice areas as a mark of our role in the machinery of the mine value chain. We proudly note our profession – ‘geologist’, ‘mining engineer’ or ‘accountant’ – and demarcate our responsibilities and even our physical space. We even subdivide our disciplines into sacred entities such as ‘logging geologist’, ‘resource geologist’ or ‘structural geologist’ to prevent any blurring as though somehow the confusion will cost valuable disciplinary ground. How can we function professionally to heed the call to be more productive and more innovative?

The purpose of this paper is to underscore what is expected from project evaluation, examine the ways in which we work as an industry and explore alternatives used in other industries and environments.

The paper begins with a summary of project evaluation expectations and the ways in which disciplines typically interconnect when conducting project evaluations. Next, the paper examines alternative work frameworks and making a distinction between multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary frameworks. In-practice examples of these frameworks in alternative industries and contexts provide evidence for application as well as an opportunity to examine their pros and cons.

The paper closes with a call to re-examine working practices in the mining industry, with a view to enhancing productivity and heeding the call for greater innovation.


Coombes, J, 2016. Transcending the mining discipline divide – multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary?, in Proceedings Project Evaluation 2016, pp 2–10 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).