Inaugural mining indaba strikes gold

To unearth potential, you need to dig deep. To break new ground, knowledge is needed. The North-West University (NWU) brought these two themes together on Wednesday, 3 April, when the NWU held its first mining indaba at the Capitol on Park Hotel in Sandton.

Here, mining industry leaders and experts joined a delegation from the NWU that included Bert Sorgdrager, chairperson of the NWU Council, Prof Bismark Tyobeka, principal and vice-chancellor of the NWU, and Prof Liezl van Dyk, executive dean of the Faculty of Engineering, to discuss the university’s proposed establishment of a School of Mining Engineering.

The primary objective of the engagement was to outline the NWU’s vision for the development of academic programmes and research initiatives that will be tailored to meet the evolving needs of the mining industry in South Africa and on the African continent, with a specific emphasis on North West.

Industry partners that attended the indaba included delegates from Anglo Platinum, Harmony Gold, MENAR, Mintek, Seriti Resources, the Minerals Council, South32, Tharisa, IDC, the Mining Qualifications Authority, the Department of Science and Innovation, RBI Consultancy, Arxo Metals, the CSIR, and independent consultants.

It is a journey that, in part, started on 26 August 2022, when, during his inaugural address, Prof Tyobeka stated his intention to establish a mining school.

“It is important for us to recognise the critical role that the mining and minerals industry plays in addressing pressing societal challenges such as inequality, unemployment, and poverty, particularly in North West. Furthermore, we must acknowledge the significant contribution of the South African mining and minerals industry to the country's economic progress. The sector has propelled South Africa to become one of the most industrialised nations on the continent,” said Prof Tyobeka at the mining indaba.

He further told attendees at the indaba that: “We envisage the mining school to be located in Rustenburg, and I am happy to share that we have already made some advances in the process, as we have presented this important idea to the Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, Minister Gwede Mantashe, and his team. We are pleased to share that he confirmed his support towards this initiative. In addition, we have engaged with the Ministry for Higher Education and Training and received their hearty support, although we acknowledge that there are processes that we still need to follow to obtain all the necessary approvals. The North West provincial government and Rustenburg Local Municipality are part of our key stakeholders in this initiative. We are glad that they have expressed their support for this strategic project.”

Prof Van Dyk then outlined the NWU’s vision for its future mining-related endeavours, before a panel of industry leaders discussed and gave their inputs on topics such as the current state of the mining industry, what the current greatest disrupters in the mining industry are, where the mining industry needs to go in the future, and what the mining industry needs from educational and research partners.

Although the project is still in its relative infancy, Prof Tyobeka has no illusions about its potential success. As he concluded in his opening address at the indaba: “If we harness the collective expertise and resources of academia, industry and the government, we can address the challenges of the future and unlock the full potential of South Africa's rich mineral resources in a sustainable and responsible manner.”

Submitted on Wed, 04/03/2024 - 14:24