- The Mandela Mining Precinct aims to boost the sector.
- Wits School of Mining is moving up in world rankings.
The University of Witwatersrand started life as the South African School of Mines. The School of Mining Engineering at Wits is now just one of many at the university, but it is the highest ranked in terms of the QS World University Rankings. It has also been improving its world ranking in recent years and stood at 13th in May 2019 (Mining Weekly).
Gauteng is home to most of the research and training bodies associated with mining. Sibanye-Stillwater is one of many companies supporting research in the province: the Wits Mining Institute’s Digital Mining Laboratory (Digimine) is the focus of its funding. AECI, the explosives and chemicals company, sponsors the Virtual Reality Mine Design Centre at the University of Pretoria.
A new project was launched in 2018 to coordinate efforts in the mining sector. A joint venture between three government departments and the Minerals Council South Africa, the Mandela Mining Precinct aims to develop research into mining, showcase the country’s manufacturing abilities and to continue to create jobs and wealth as ore bodies are depleted.
Mintek is an autonomous body based in Randburg which receives about 30% of its budget from the Department of Mineral Resources. The balance comes from joint ventures with private-sector partners, or is earned in research and development income, the sale of services or products and from technology licensing agreements. An example of collaboration is Project AuTEK which has found a way of getting gold catalysts to play a role in improving fuel-cell efficiency.
Pretoria University has a Department of Mining Engineering, the University of South Africa offers three national diplomas in mine-related fields, the University of Johannesburg has mine-surveying courses and the Vaal and Tshwane universities of technology have engineering faculties.
The national government’s Phakisa programme is to be applied to mining. Intended to fast-track solutions to development problems, an Operation Mining Phakisa Lab has been set up to create concrete plans.
Similarly, the Provincial Government of Gauteng has initiated Action Labs in the mining sector. These are meetings where private and public participants in the mining sector and its value chain discuss possible improvements, partnerships and innovations.
One of the Action Labs‘ focus areas is to strengthen the export of mining services and mining equipment to SADC countries, including the copper belt. The creation and support of mining sector SMMEs is another important component of the plan to create a broader base for mining and mineral beneficiation.
Additional resource links:
- Council for Geoscience: www.geoscience.org.za
- Minerals Council South Africa: www.mineralscouncil.org.za
- Mining Qualifications Authority: www.mqa.org.za
- Mintek: www.mintek.co.za
- National Department of Mineral Resources: www.dmr.gov.za