The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP) officially launched the South African Mining Extraction Research, Development and Innovation (SAMERDI) research centres on the 2nd of November 2022. The launch event took place on the side-lines of the two-day CSIR conference.
The SAMERDI strategy is focused on the longevity of current mines, mechanised mining systems, advanced orebody knowledge, real-time information management systems and the successful application of technology centred on people. The strategy is implemented by the MMP, an initiative of the DSI co-funded by the Minerals Council South Africa and hosted at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Endorsing the launch, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, said the modernisation of the African mining industry is a necessity for growing the mining industry and for job creation. “This is the reason that, as South Africa, through the SAMERDI strategy, we are providing the road map on how to work together to develop technological solutions that will contribute towards the survival of this industry,” said Minister Nzimande.
MMP Director, Johan Le Roux, explained that the establishment of the SAMERDI Research Centre’s (SRCs) is crucial to ensuring that the next generation of mining researchers is well trained. “The SRCs are expected to create new knowledge in different mining strategic focus areas in South Africa,” he said.
Welcoming guests at the launch event, CSIR Executive for Business Excellence and Integration, Dr Kaven Naidoo, highlighted the importance of partnerships, deep capabilities and deploying them for solving complex problems. “We know that innovation, impact and solutions to the most compelling problems of our time, including those faced by the mining sector, cannot be achieved without partnerships with universities and the private sector,” he said. In this partnership between the DSI, Minerals Council and the CSIR our mission is to facilitate viable and sustainable solutions to advance the South African Mining Sector and we are very proud of this relationship, he added.
The SRCs are based at four participating universities, where each SRC is headed by a Research Competence Lead and will host several postgraduate students. The research centers for Real-Time Information Management Systems and Successful Application of Technologies Centered Around People are located at the University of the Witwatersrand; Mechanized Mining Systems is located at the University of Pretoria; Longevity of Current Mines is located at the University of Johannesburg; and Advanced Orebody Knowledge is located at the University of Free State.
During the launch, the various university representatives discussed the value of the SRCs to their institutions and the huge impact they will have on R&D activities in the country and pledged their full support and commitment to making them a success.
Delivering closing remarks at the event, MCSA Senior Executive for Modernisation and Safety, Sietse Van Der Woude, thanked all parties involved in making the research centres a success and pledged the continued support of the MCSA. “During the journey to today I thought at some point that getting these centres established was impossible and today it is done. Let us, therefore, tap into that ability and ensure that the SAMERDI Research Centres enable SA mining to #makingminingmatter in the lives of employees, communities and the environment at large,” he said.