The MMP is mandated to facilitate the development of skills, capacity and capability in mining RDI.
As mining-related research in South Africa has declined, the number of competent researchers in mining-related areas also decreased, diminishing the capacity for this type of critical research at a time when the country needs to modernise its mines to make them safer, more sustainable, globally competitive, and have longer, more productive lives.
To rekindle mining-related research and develop and encourage competent researchers, the establishment of SAMERDI Research Centres at the so-called mining universities, namely the Universities of Pretoria, the Witwatersrand (Wits) and Johannesburg was proposed.
To this end, four SAMERDI Research Centres (SRCs) are being established at the Universities of Pretoria and Johannesburg, and Wits University.
So far, three SRCs have been established and another is underway:
- University of Pretoria: Mechanised mining systems.
- Wits University: Real-time information management systems
- Wits University: Strategic applications of technology centred around people
- University of Johannesburg: Work is underway to establish a Centre for the longevity of current mining operations
The SRCs are funded by the DSI, through the Precinct, and each Centre comprises a full-time research leader, administrative staff and a number of financially supported postgraduate students. There is a condition that each Centre must support at least one postgraduate student from a formerly disadvantaged higher education institution who is studying in a mining-related field.
The SAMERDI strategy focuses on the modernisation pathway for mining to 2030, and the research centres will conduct fundamental research to create new knowledge about mining technology, data systems and processes associated with the sector, as well as a people-centric focus on the impact of modernisation on jobs, skills, environmental, social and governance issues, and stakeholder inclusivity.
The Precinct is also researching how to ensure longevity of current mines, mechanised mining systems and advanced orebody knowledge.
Each research centre will be headed by a Research Competence Lead, and will host a post-doctoral student, a doctoral student and up to four Master’s students in a three-year cycle.
The Wits Mining Institute (WMI) at the Wits University says it will boost its contribution to the future of mining by hosting two of the new research centres established through the SAMERDI strategy.
The outputs from the research centres will inform the applied research at the Precinct, the results of which are felt on mine sites, in communities and throughout the mining value chain, the WMI said. These results will, in turn, inform the next iteration of the strategic focus for the fundamental research.
The two SRCs at the WMI will focus their fundamental research on the themes of Real Time Information Management Systems (RTIMS) and SATCAP, coinciding with the thematic areas pursued by the Precinct.