Collaboration focuses on mineral processing and beneficiation skills developmentBy: Chantelle Kotze

State-owned minerals researcher Mintek, in collaboration with the Department of Science (DST) and Technology and the Centre for Science and Technology of the Non-Aligned and Other Developing Countries (NAM S&T) last week launched a training fellowship for mineral processing and beneficiation in Johannesburg.

This initiative includes a three-month training programme which will provide direct and indirect benefits to selected fellows from member countries of the NAM S&T Centre and non-member countries, through the creation of networks and exposure to new developments in mineral processing and beneficiation.

Speaking at the official opening of the DST/ Mintek-NAM S&T training programme, NAM S&T Centre Director Arun Kulshreshtha explained that of the 20 available training fellowships awarded each year, 19 fellows have been selected to partake this year. The fellows are from 11 countries member and non-member countries, namely South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Mauritius, Eritrea, Ghana, India, Sri Lanka, Syria and Tajikistan.

He further explained that the training programme is aimed at providing an opportunity to scientists and technologists to address the skills gap in the minerals beneficiation value chain and to and enable them to update their knowledge to benefit their countries’ mineral resources industry.

Mineral resources are often not fully exploited in developing countries, including the NAM countries, owing to a lack of advanced skills, innovative research and technology advances, despite having significant reserves.

He adds that mining and minerals development is important in providing invaluable input into downstream industries, which holds the key to a country’s industrial development.

Mining is also an important source of foreign exchange, tax revenue earning, infrastructure creation and employment generation in developing countries such as the ones affiliated to the NAM S&T Centre.

Through the fellowship, the scientists and technologists will be exposed to minerals processing technologies and undergo in-service training at Mintek’s training facilities in Randburg attached to Mintek’s existing training programmes.

NAM S&T Centre president and DST International Cooperation and Resources deputy director general Daan du Toit said the NAM S&T Centre’s strategic objective is to make science, technology and innovation an integral part of the participating country’s growth and development strategy, provide relevant support and science, technology and innovation capacity building and also reinforce south-south cooperation between the NAM S&T member countries.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor highlighted the importance of science and technology development in Africa’s beneficiation and localisation plan in the development of its minerals in her Keynote address.

“We as the DST hope that the training fellowship leads to identifying synergies that lead to countries being able to play a role in the new beneficiation drive to the benefit of their economic growth, industrialization, skills development, technology transfer and innovation,” she said.

Pandor further highlighted that African development is a priority to the government of South Africa. “We believe African development must make good use of science and technology as innovation is crucial to the continents’ development. We have to exploit our comparative knowledge and location advantages in order to create jobs and livelihoods of as many people as possible.”

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