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Bringing Sudbury mining knowledge to South African university.

As a South African university seeks to begin empowering its local population through mining-related knowledge, it is reaching out to Sudbury's Cambrian College to assist them in their efforts.

The university intends to open up a geology degree program to 25 students in 2008, with the same enrolment numbers open to degree programs in mining, metallurgy, metals processing. Various advanced certificates related to these same programs will also be offered, which is where Cambrian's expertise comes in.

"Cambrian College has been involved with mining activities for several years, and we can learn a lot from them through this venture," says Dr. Georges Ekosse, coordinator, Geology, Mining and Minerals programs, University of Limpopo.

"So we are looking at strong collaborative efforts in the area of geology, mining, metallurgy and minerals processing. We are looking at getting faculty involved on an exchange basis, and we are now in the process of jointly developing the curriculum, and we are also looking at some sort of collaborative research as well."

With some of the largest deposits of platinum, vermiculite and coal in the world, the South African province of Limpopo is, like Sudbury, an area rife with mining activity, Ekosse says. As a result of this shared industry, as well as Cambrian's involvement in similar programs throughout Tanzania, India and Latin America, the college seemed like a natural choice for a partnership, he adds.

"Part of our programs here involve a lot of hands-on activity, which is not always the case in other countries," says Geoff Dalton, dean of Computing and Engineering at Cambrian College.

"So the model that we have here and some of the things that we do here are some of things that [the University of Limpopo] would like to incorporate into their program."

As an example, he points to Cambrian's use of the local NORCAT mine for its common core training, a system which is being examined as a potential model for such studies at the University of Limpopo.

Additionally, the university is examining the relationships between Cambrian College, industry partners such as CVRD Inco and Xstrata Nickel, and various levels of government.

As the partnership develops, the two schools will exchange faculty as well as students. In a similar system to what the college already shares with the educational training institute of Tanzania, staff and students will travel between the two countries to share their knowledge as well as their challenges. Dalton says Cambrian faculty may even teach short courses for single semesters while learning about Limpopo's approach to education and absorbing some of their ample knowledge in the field of deep mining.

Ekosse says the Cambrian-Limpopo initiative has the potential act as the catalyst to create similar programs throughout South Africa as they seek to "empower the common man."

Currently, the involvement of South Africa's black population in the mining industry is largely within manual labour. However, educational initiatives such as the collaboration with Cambrian College represent efforts to move this majority into higher career opportunities while the country continues to try and find its footing following the end of apartheid in 1994.


"In a way, the mining program that we are bringing onboard academically could be considered to be part of the black economic empowerment process," Ekosse says. "We have potential students waiting, and the enhancement of the economy of the common person gives them the real opportunity to be involved as junior miners or in the mining industry either upstream or downstream. They should be able to be empowered through skills development."

Ednah Molewa, premier-elect of South Africa's North-West Province, says Cambrian's partnership is a crucial example of how South African people can move forward by forging strong collaborative links within the international community.

"We believe developing country like ourselves have a lot to learn from other countries; not just places likes Sudbury, Canada, or Ontario, but many others as well, in many different ways."

As one of the oldest deep-mining countries in the world, Molewa says the partnership with Cambrian can prove beneficial to both institutions.

"As we meet with the community college, one of the things that we express, and they have as well, is that this can be a kind of reciprocal kind of relationship. It is highly probably and highly doable that they too can learn from us."


Northern Ontario Business
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Author:Stewart, Nick
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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