The R6 million, three-year partnership agreement with Wits University’s School of Mining Engineering and the Wits Mining Institute was signed by Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland and Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib, on Wednesday 22 November.
Gold Fields, who manages the country’s largest and deepest underground mechanised gold mine – South Deep, understands that the skills and expertise required to bring the mine to full production are not in abundant supply in South Africa. The funding therefore seeks to fill the gap of mechanised mining skills in South Africa.
“With the Mining School’s long history of research-intensive higher education and the more recently launched Wits Mining Institute, with its focus on digital mining, it made for a natural partnership,” says Holland.
“Both Gold Fields and Wits University want to collaborate in developing young professionals with the knowledge and skills required to support mechanised, deep level gold mining. Through this partnership we can undoubtedly assist the mining industry in general and play our part in bringing South Deep to full production,” adds Habib.
A number of projects have already been identified for funding by Gold Fields during the three-year period. These include:
- Three postgraduate research projects linked to the Chair of Rock Engineering at the School
- Two Geological Resource Modelling postgraduate research projects
- Two postgraduate Drill and Blast improvement and other productivity-related research projects
Gold Fields’ funding will also be used to cover the costs of about four to six 3rd and 4th year student research works a year. The post-graduate and under-graduate research projects will be in subject areas that are critical to South Deep as it ramps up to full production in 2022, with an expected life of over 70 years.
As part of the partnership Gold Fields has been granted naming rights for the Genmin Laboratories building on the Wits Campus, which will now be known as the Gold Fields Laboratories building.
In it for the long haul
The partnership between Gold Fields and Wits University goes back many years. Most recently, in 2010, the company pledged R18 million on a three-year sponsorship deal comprising a number of investments in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at Wits University. The last of these funds were spent in 2015.
“Wits has for decades provided the skills needed to power South Africa’s mining industry. This latest sponsorship will ensure that they are in a position to do so for many more years to come,” says Holland.