Sibanye Gold on Tuesday announced a R30 million sponsorship for the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of the Witwatersrand to underpin its commitment to tertiary education.

This follows Sibanye’s previous funding of R25 million to the same institutions made in 2014.

Sibanye said the funding will enable both universities to maintain high quality teaching and learning standards, support increased intensity in research and innovation and provide essential capital for development and maintenance of world class facilities.

In 2016, Sibanye funded R49 million in bursaries and internships and committed to invest a further R432 million over the next five years, to ensure access to quality tertiary education for about 640 young South Africans entering the mining industry.

Sibanye said it remained committed to maintaining its significant investment in education despite the tough economic climate and the challenges facing the mining industry.

Sibanye chief executive, Neal Froneman, said the mining industry is a critical component of the South African economy and has a significant role to play in delivering future economic growth and employment.

“The provision of high quality education is a vital requirement if we are to grow the economy and as a company, we are aware that our core purpose – our mining improve lives – can only be realised, if we continue to build the pipeline of young talent needed to lead our industry into a bright future,” Froneman said.

Meanwhile, Sibanye last week also signed a three-year R15 million partnership with UJ to integrate mining education with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The money will be used to set up mining emulation infrastructure at the university’s department of mining engineering and mine surveying at its Doornfontein campus.

The emulation, combined with virtual and real-life communication, will enable students to have an immersive learning experience and bring together multiple disciplines to advance teaching and research in the sector.

UJ’s vice-chancellor designate, Tshilidzi Marwala, said the emulation could, for example explore the use of power-line communication to integrate LEDs that could be used for communication, virtualisation, and determining where and when accidents could occur, using techniques such as pattern recognition or artificial intelligence.

“The mine emulation will enable us to develop engineering education strategies to enhance undergraduate exposure and employability in mining specific areas,” Marwala said.

“Only through partners like Sibanye can we adopt and adapt the Fourth Industrial Revolution into the mining sector and ensure our students will be work-ready and equipped when they transition from UJ into the world of work.”

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