JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Copper mining company Copper 360, which announced in August that its School of Mining was under development at Concordia operation in the Northern Cape, has launched its first set of courses, aimed at nurturing human capital in anticipation of an expected provincial minerals development surge.
The school’s first courses are unaccredited and based on the needs of Copper 360 itself, but on the near-term horizon are accredited courses, as well as diploma and degree fields of study, including an association with the Camborne School of Mines in the UK.
The seven initial courses are basic surface geology, sampling, orebody technician, mineral resource management, drone technology, introduction to mining law and urban design for mining communities.
Thirty students were accepted at the first intake, including women and persons with disabilities.
“The initial course offering will focus on developing practical knowledge for students,” Copper 360 executive director Quinton Adams stated in a release to Mining Weekly.
Adams heads up the community engagement arm of the copper mining and copper beneficiation company, which is listed on the Alternative Exchange (Altx) of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
“Skills development will initially be based on the needs of the company, whereafter, as the school grows, a wider net will be cast,” Adams added.
The courses were developed in-house, and the company has sourced experienced geologists and other mining professionals to contribute to and present the material. A further 300 staff members have enrolled in an extended apprenticeship programme that will be simultaneously rolled out. Personnel will also enjoy access to School of Mining courses.
Adams foresees the Northern Cape, with its mostly untapped natural resources, becoming South Africa’s next mineral province and economic driver. But unemployment is at near 60% in some areas and poverty widespread.
Copper, nickel, manganese and other minerals have attracted significant interest in the province’s reserves.
With structural unemployment posing a substantial provincial challenge and for its citizens to enjoy the opportunities that are likely to arise, Adams expressed the strong belief that education must be at the top of any line-item agenda.
He emphasised the challenge being presented by the skills of the population not matching the opportunities the labour market: “The workforce is there, but it's not employment ready. In anticipation of growth in the resource sector, the School of Mining is in place to mend this chasm.”
The school is expected to contribute substantially to the nurturing of human capital as the minerals boom takes shape in the province.
Copper 360 (Altx CPR), which is focused on exploring, developing and mining copper resources, currently produces and exports copper plate made from ore recovered from old copper dumps.