The Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) have launched a focused academic organisation to develop South African economic geologists through post-graduate research.

The Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Integrated Minerals and Energy Resource Analysis (Cimera) will focus its research on “the study of the origin, distribution and character of the earth mineral and fossil energy resource systems with the aim if ensuring their sustainable utilisation not only in South Africa but Africa as a whole,” Cimera director Professor Nic Beukes said at the launch on Thursday at the University of Johannesburg.

Cimera marks the fifth CoE to be launched by the DST and NRF this month, bringing the total number in South Africa to 14. “The NRF is starting to see the results of a variety of long-term investments into research through the overarching CoE programme. The objective of this programme is to grow a well-developed, globally competitive knowledge base to develop critical mass and enhance our international competitiveness in strategic industries,” NRF CEO Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said.

Collaboration with South Africa’s top educational institutions, such as at Cimera, is critical, van Jaarsveld added. “This is precisely what we want to do – break down institutional barriers and allow collaboration across universities, creating opportunities to enable students to move from one institution to the other and enhancing knowledge sharing.”

The goal of Cimera is to serve as a central hub for research and human resource development in mineral and energy resource analysis in Africa, Beukes said. “The research focus of Cimera is especially relevant to South Africa because the country represents the most valuable piece of mineral real estate in the world.”

This was also emphasised by the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Advocate Michael Masutha, at the event, who said “South Africa remains a cornucopia of mineral resources, but our science system will be poorer if we do not address inequality. “I challenge Cimera to lead by example in this regard. Encouraging black people and women to enter research careers in this area would be a good start towards a more equitable situation.”

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