Copper 360’s School of Mining, launched last year September, has set its sights on developing a broad-based mining skills pipeline while simultaneously developing and growing its offering to existing employees, the community and students.

The first cohorts of students have completed their training in various areas including surface geology, mineral resource management and ore body technician courses.

“When we launched, we never anticipated the overwhelming response and excitement that would follow,” says Quinton Adams of Copper 360. “The appetite for education and particularly the knowledge of the mining sector has grown tremendously, concomitant with the potential that the Northern Cape holds as the next mineral province of South Africa.”

The school has now introduced several additional community-focused knowledge courses including mining law, drone technology, surveying and urban development. These courses were developed, shares Adams, by sector specialists – and while the school is presently in the process of applying for accreditation, he says there is no time like the present to uplift communities and develop individuals. The company has also used the school in its own training programme with more than 90 workers attending and successfully completing solvent extraction and electrowinning courses, among others.

Adams says that while initially the School of Mining was aimed at post-matric students, the company identified the need and desire of learners to further explore and understand the potential that careers in the mining sector holds. To this end, several schools have already been hosted at Copper 360 facilities to further spark interest, while a School Bridging Course was developed in tandem to introduce high school students to the world of copper mining, with firsthand experiences at the Copper 360 processing plant in Nababeep. To date, six schools with around 360 students participated.

“It is highly encouraging,” says Adams, “but at the same time it highlights the plight of many South Africans who may still not have access to further education or the luxury of choice when it comes to determining their futures. I hope we play a small but significant role in positively impacting communities through the School of Mining.”

Copper 360 is committed to further build on early successes. “We are in the process of applying for accreditation and plans are afoot to offer degreed courses in collaboration with international universities,” he says. “We are exploring partnerships with several universities in South Africa and other countries to develop joint projects and distance learning programmes. This will bring international expertise and research opportunities to the Northern Cape.” This includes the possibility of the development of a simplified MBA programme in the mid-term future.

“The process is twofold,” notes Adams. “We intend to build on our broad-based mining skills pipeline and introduce as many learners as possible to the varied career opportunities in mining. Then, as we build more short and longer courses – eventually diploma or degreed and postgraduate fields of study – The School of Mining will not only address the need for sector-related skills in the Northern Cape but it will provide an employable and skilled workforce right on mining’s doorstep.”

It is, he adds, a medium- to long-term project, but the benefits to the community, industry and the province will be tangible.

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