Where there's a will there's a way: Wits School of Mining goes from strength to strength
The Wits School of Mining Engineering, one of the leading mining engineering schools, is on track to deliver its vision of being a leading “research-intensive university in the top 100 world universities by 2022”.
Professor Cuthbert Musingwini, the Head of School at the Wits School of Mining Engineering, which is part of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, has laid out what he considers are the key successes in his annual review.
As the School continues to build on its reputation as a leading mining school internationally, I am excited to report that – despite some challenges faced – the School was able to start delivering on the five Strategic Initiatives adopted for my five-year term from 2015-2019,” he said in the review.
“These initiatives will ensure that the Wits Mining team can deliver excellence in teaching, research and service in line with the Wits Vision 2022 of being “a leading research-intensive university firmly embedded in the top 100 world universities by 2022”.
The Wits School of Mining Engineering currently sits within the top 100 mining schools out of 403 worldwide in the Quacquarelli Symonds 2016 World University Rankings, as well as being the number one mining school in South Africa.
Highlighted in the report is the school’s six newly graduated PhDs and one DEng, the highest merits ever achieved in the school’s history. Some of the research projects completed within these academics include the prediction of mining conditions under increasing temperatures, which is pertinent given mining organisations are digging a little deeper.
As a further sign of a school on the rise, the 2015 final year undergraduate size reached well over 100, the first time this has ever been achieved in the school’s long history.
In a time of challenging climates across the mining industry, Professor Musingwini believes that the Wits School of Mining Engineering will continue to serve the mining industry in South Africa, as well as across the world.
“I have no hesitation in expressing my confidence in the Wits Mining team and their continued commitment to serve our students, industry and the University with distinction,” he said.
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Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.