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Research centre marries disciplines for a sustainable mining futur


Although mining faces severe challenges in the existing economic conditions, it remains an important sector for growth and transformation in Africa. So at the heart of any strategy to achieve resilience in African mining lies the requirement for appropriate knowledge, capability, attitude and behaviour of the mining leaders of the future.

Modern approaches

As a result of this need, a multidisciplinary Mining Resilience Research Centre (MRRC) has been established at the University of Pretoria (UP) to focus on research activities within the mining industry and to develop lasting partnerships with leading international research and academic institutions.

“Issues around legacy, responsibility, impact and innovation need to be addressed in order to achieve a sustainable mining industry in Africa. Establishing the MRRC is the result of thorough industry consultation.”

“The main aim of this centre is to provide modern approaches, world-class facilities and globally relevant topics, making it possible for researchers to excel and for the industry to build capacity,” explains Professor Jan du Plessis, Sasol Chair in Health, Safety and Environment in the Department of Mining Engineering at UP.

Mining inextricably linked to Africa’s future

The World Bank has said that Africa is home to about 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, 10% of the world’s oil, and 8% of the world’s natural gas. In South Africa the mining industry is responsible for an estimated 19% of all economic activity and supports at least another 25 % of up and downstream economic activities. Despite this considerable wealth on the continent, it is plagued by poverty, social inequality, and slow economic development.

However, mining remains a key driver for growth and is inextricably linked to Africa’s future – with mining comes employment and skills development, investment in education, the construction of infrastructure and the generation of much-needed revenue.

Envisaged collaborations

  • Mining education with the aim to co-create, develop and adopt a resilient African mining model as the blueprint for mine designs of the future.
  • New technologies including mechanised mining, automation, robotics and the associated workplace order and culture.
  • Socio-economic aspects of mining, on how empowered, technologically enabled and educated communities relate to mining operations.
  • Mining governance in Africa to meet the highest standards.

 

Fully-integrated centre

Faculties that currently form part of the MRRC are humanities, natural and agricultural sciences, economic and management sciences, engineering, built environment and information technology and law.

In the future more of the university’s faculties involved in mining research will become part of the MRRC activities, making it a fully integrated mining research centre. The MRRC is currently busy with six research projects in engineering, built environment and humanities.
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