Unisa, Palabora sign MoU to facilitate strategic collaboration

Palabora copper mine

Palabora copper mine

12th April 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the University of South Africa’s (Unisa’s) College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) and copper mining company Palabora Copper, a subsidiary of the Palabora Mining Company, based in Phalaborwa, Limpopo.

The signing of the MoU, which took place in Johannesburg on April 12, marks the start of a strategic partnership between the two entities aimed at achieving mutual goals in the fields of science, engineering and technology and seeking to enhance efficiency, productivity and overall success through various initiatives.

Unisa principal and vice chancellor Professor Puleng LenkaBula led the university delegation, which comprised postgraduate studies, innovation and commercialisation research VP Professor Thenjiwe Meyiwa and CSET executive dean Professor Bhekie Mamba.

The delegation from Palabora Copper was led by concentrator, underground construction and vent shaft senior manager Aidan Schoonbee.

The signing of the MoU comes after a showcasing of the partnership between the two entities at a media open day session held at the mining company’s premises in Phalaborwa last month.

Among other things, the partnership will seek to advance research and development through joint efforts in science, technology and engineering research, particularly for postgraduate studies such as MSc and PhD programmes. This will enable Palabora Copper employees to engage in industry-based research, aligning with the company’s strategy for competitiveness.

The partnership will also support work-integrated learning opportunities by providing Unisa students with practical work experience at Palabora Copper to supplement their academic learning and fulfil organisational social responsibility obligations. This will further enable undergraduate students to graduate with diplomas in engineering and/or mine surveying.

The development of short learning programmes is another aim of the partnership, which will see the creation of programmes above national qualification framework (NQF) Level 4 to enhance the skills and knowledge of employees beyond the mandatory training or occupational qualifications.

The partnership also aims to develop a higher certificate in supervisory development at NQF Level 5. This will see the designing of programmes aligned with Palabora Copper leadership development strategy to equip frontline and first-time leaders with essential skills for effective management.

Recognition of prior learning will also be supported through the partnership, offering alternative pathways for experienced employees without formal qualifications to obtain recognition and acquire the relevant qualifications, including partial exemptions on government certificates such as the competence for mine manager’s certificate.

In addition, the partnership will ensure collaboration on research, innovation, commercialisation and technical support to drive business sustainability and develop a robust internal pool of experts.

Exchange programmes will also facilitate the exchange of educators, learners, administrators and advisers to participate in professional development opportunities such as conferences, symposia and seminars.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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