Dual-listed Sibanye-Stillwater has committed to invest a further R33-million in tertiary education aimed at bolstering mining research and development in South Africa.
The gold and platinum miner has extended and increased its existing partnerships with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) by a further three years, with each institution receiving R16.5-million.
“The mining industry is the flywheel of the South African economy. Our investment does not only aim to ensure the mines of the future will be safer, but to build the pipeline of young talent needed to lead our industry into a bright future,” said Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman.
From 2019 to 2022, a further sponsorship agreement of R10-million was entered into with Wits to fund the digi-mine research programme.
The cumulative commitments made to UJ and Wits since the group’s establishment in 2013, amounts to R75-million. Sibanye-Stillwater has also awarded 1 493 bursaries and provided 1 141 internships opportunities for graduates, since 2013.
Commenting on the importance of education in the mining space, Froneman referred to the complicated and challenging nature of deep-level underground mining, which comprises “many interconnected systems that require intense technical management skills to deliver the expected safety and health performance and operational efficiency with minimal environmental impacts”.
Simply put, Froneman said that the adoption of new technology “will create a safer environment for employees” while simultaneously allowing the miner to yield maximum value from the extraction of resources in a way that creates the least disruption to the environment.
“Unless we are able to create value, we’re not able to provide funding for sponsorships like this and to fund our social and labour plans and so on. [Therefore], value creation is critically important to all of us because its results that you are seeing today,” Froneman said during the virtual handover event on January 26.
He also stated that Sibanye-Stillwater would be exploring innovative ways with its partners to attract a greater proportion of women into technical curriculums. Appropriate incentives would be announced in due course.
More than 30% of Sibanye’s bursars and interns in 2020 were females.