Sustainability safety
Prof Fred Cawood -Director of the Wits Mining Institute

The University of the Witwatersrand’s Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (CSMI) has joined forces with the Wits Mining Institute as one of three vital pillars to take forward the university’s research and development for 21st century mining.

According to Wits Mining Institute (WMI) director Professor Fred Cawood, the focus of the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (CSMI) is on responsible mining.

“The establishment of a focused transdisciplinary research group on resources policy and regulation is an important aspect of the institute’s vision for a stronger and more sustainable mining industry,” says Cawood.

Serving the sector since 2005, the CSMI conducts research and training in industry sustainability issues, including the well-being of workers and communities affected by mining, as well as social and ecological resilience.

“Our contribution to mining has evolved over the years in line with changes in the global and local mining environment, and becoming part of the WMI now gives us considerable synergies with efforts to bring the benefits of digital technology and mechanisation to the industry,” says the CSMI’s Ingrid Watson. The other two complementary centres within the WMI are the DigiMine and the Centre for Mechanised Mining Systems.

Watson emphasises the value of technology in enhancing the social and environmental sustainability of tomorrow’s mining methods and impacts, as well as in addressing mining’s historical legacy.

She notes that the CSMI’s work has broadened into dialogue, encouraging and guiding engagements between stakeholders in the sector – while responding to key landmarks in mining’s evolution such as the Mining Charter and its amendments, Social and Labour Plans, and the Marikana massacre.

“The CSMI provides a valuable bridge between practitioners and academia, and we also partner with industry, government, organised labour, communities and networks across the globe working to strengthen African mining practice,” she says. “One of our strengths is bringing diverse stakeholders together to address policy, research and capacity deficits.”

Recent work by the CSMI to build capacity in mining-affected communities – in which it hosted non-governmental and community-based organisations to explore opportunities – highlights the value of an integrated approach to sustainability in mining.

Through its ‘People in Mining’ focus, it has also engaged with a leading gold mining company, with a view to assisting with research on artisanal and small-scale mining.