Diversified miner Sibanye has partnered with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to integrate mining education with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The company will inject R15-million into the university’s mining engineering faculty over the next three years.
The JSE- and NYSE-listed company will transfer the money in three tranches of R5-million each year between 2017 and 2019.
Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman said at the grant reception ceremony on August 1, when the first R5-million tranche was handed over, that although the primary aim of the investment was to provide high-quality teaching and learning, increased research and innovation intensity and capital investment into facility expansion and maintenance, Sibanye also appreciated that a portion of the investment would be aimed at improving the lives of students through bursaries.
“Sibanye’s core purpose is that it is mining that improves lives,” he highlighted.
The investment will be used to set up mining emulation infrastructure at the university’s Department of Mining Engineering and Mine Surveying at its Doornfontein campus, Johannesburg. The emulation, combined with virtual and real-life communication, will enable students to have an immersive learning experience and bring together multiple disciplines to advance teaching and research in the sector.
Speaking at the event, UJ Vice-Chancellor Designate, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala stated that the emulation could, for example, explore the use of power-line communication to integrate light-emitting diodes that could be used for communication, virtualisation and determining where and when accidents could occur, using techniques such as pattern recognition or artificial intelligence.
He pointed out that this component brings “real-life” into the cyber world and allows students to directly and practically integrate with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Marwala emphasised that Sibanye’s contribution is an investment in the future of mining.
“The mine emulation will enable us to develop engineering education strategies to enhance undergraduate exposure and employability in mining specific areas. Only through partners like Sibanye can we adopt and adapt the Fourth Industrial Revolution into the mining sector and ensure our students will be work-ready and equipped when they transition from UJ into the world of work,” he remarked.
Sibanye’s latest investment of R15-million follows a previous investment by the mining house of R12.5-million which was paid over the course of three years from September 2014 to 2016, towards UJ’s Doornfontein campus redevelopment project.