100 World Class South Africans: Danie Krige

Mining magician

When he matriculated at age 15, Danie Krige’s teachers in Krugersdorp anticipated a bright future for the boy.

They were probably not surprised he graduated with a B.Sc from Wits at 19.

What they could never have predicted was that he would become one of the most respected names in mining in the world, and that he’d have a technique – ‘kriging’ – named after him.

Though he’d studied engineering, Krige loved mathematics too, and it was this combination of the two sciences that changed everything.

In the 1940s, while working in the government mining engineer’s department, he participated in landmark uranium negotiations with the British and Americans.

Krige ensured that the pricing formula he designed profited South Africa first.

Continuing to keep an eye on the numbers, he dabbled in applying statistics to the mining sector.

In 1951 he wrote his Master’s thesis on his fledgling theories; this research was the foundation for a whole new field of study – geostatistics – now taught around the world.

Krige has received three honorary doctorates and many awards, including the Order of the Baobab from President Zuma in 2012.

With his influence extending to fields as wideranging as petroleum, agriculture and hydrology, Krige has achieved fame beyond any miner’s wildest dreams.

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