Secondary occupation: university lecturer
Dr. Rüdiger Triebel, who has worked at K+S for over 25 years, is passionate about passing on his knowledge to the next generation. Now the explosives expert has been appointed honorary professor at Clausthal University of Technology.
The relationship of the newly appointed honorary professor of blasting technology with Clausthal University of Technology has a long history. At the end of the 1980s, Rüdiger Triebel studied Mining and Materials Sciences at this university, and then completed his PhD. Following completion of his doctorate, Triebel assumed his position at K+S in 1995. In the first few years, he encountered practical experience at various production sites before moving to Kassel in 2005, where, as Head of the Mining department, he became more intensively engaged with drilling and blasting technology for the first time.
This topic has remained his focus ever since. In the following years, he promoted several important projects at once: from the successful conversion of the explosives supply with silo tanks to the optimization of the blast hole diameter as well as the auditing of the explosives suppliers to the introduction of the labeling and tracing of explosives together with the blasting experts of the plants. Our colleagues at the K+S Group's sites in North and South America also regularly rely on his expertise. Of course, this also involved close cooperation with MSW-Chemie, the explosives plant of K+S. Not surprisingly, Triebel was appointed to the management of MSW in Langelsheim in 2016, in addition to his job in Kassel.
What is the fascination of blasting technology for him?
“Due to the special geological conditions, drilling and blasting technology, apart from solution mining, is the ideal extraction technology in our potash and rock salt mines. Safety in blasting is a top priority for me, and I'm constantly striving for improvements to ensure the health and safety of our employees,”
This is precisely the focus of his current project: Because of the drastically lowered occupational exposure limits underground, K+S will introduce explosives containing significantly lower emissions than before. The future therefore lies in emulsion explosives - this decision has already been taken. For this purpose, planning is now being intensified to establish the legal prerequisites, purchase the necessary equipment and develop new production capacities.
As always, Triebel is in very close exchange with the blasting experts at the production sites. “These colleagues have an equally strong interest in occupational safety in their jobs and contribute important experience and suggestions.”
Triebel also represents the mining industry in various committees focusing on occupational safety, health protection and explosives.
Although this already seems to be a full-time job, he also assumed the honorary professorship. How do you combine your job and an honorary academic position? “The appointment as honorary professor is a great honor for me and affirms my commitment. My work at Clausthal University of Technology has not changed significantly as a result. I assumed the lectureship at the Institute of Mining back in 2014.”
For the “Underground Blasting Technology” block lecture and the colloquium held every two years, he is released from his duties by K+S. In preparation and organization, however, he also spends several vacation days. “I benefited from a very good education at Clausthal University of Technology. In return, I would like to give something back and contribute to the education of the next generation of mining engineers. I like it when sparks fly, and students share my fascination for blasting technology,” Triebel explains about his motivation.
The student excursions into the world of potash and salt mining are also important to him. Last but not least, this attracts young talent to K+S as an employer. In times of corona, commuting between Kassel, Langelsheim and Clausthal remains largely unnecessary for him, but Triebel misses the personal exchange and is already looking forward to experiencing the world underground again together with his students.
Apart from that, he also holds a lectureship at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg and keeps close contact with the RWTH Aachen. Truly a mining engineer and teacher with a passion.