Wits Women in Mining is now officially recognised by the School of Mining Engineering Society and aims to promote the participation of women in the industry.
Wits Alumnus becomes the first female mine manager for Impala Platinum
Wits University’s mining engineering school is ranked the highest in Africa and 13th in world in the 2019 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings.
Last year Wits ranked 15th, whilst in 2017 it was positioned 22nd on the QS rankings. The rankings are based on a combination of metrics that include academic and employer reputation, student-to-staff ratios, proportion of international staff and students, and citation rate.
Based on these categories, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s mining engineering school in the United States was ranked first in the world. Wits mining engineering is the only school in Africa to feature in the top 50 worldwide.
“Wits Mining is the largest mining school in Africa. It has a very expansive postgraduate programme and has a sizeable portion of international staff and students,” said Kelello Chabedi, senior lecturer at the Wits School of Mining Engineering.
Students currently study within the school were chuffed by the achievement.
“It is a pleasure to attend one of the top mining schools in the world”, said 22-year-old Innocent Sithole.
“I want to go out there and explore how mining engineering is done globally and [how] this ranking improves my chances of getting a job somewhere else,” added the third-year mining engineering student.
Third-year student, Minenhle Khumalo, said that there has been a decline of mining engineering graduates being taken into the mining industry.
“With us moving up in the ranks of the world and being the top school in Africa, obviously it will attract the industry’s attention,” Khumalo said.
“I think it is the way in which our curriculum is structured. Our degree includes honours, so it prepares us for things that other mining engineering students are not taught in their curriculum,” Khumalo added.
“Our chances of employment will be drastically higher everywhere in the world because the industry now knows that we are competent enough,” said Mashudu Tlhatlheji, another third-year mining engineering student.
Editor of Mining Weekly, Martin Creamer, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “It is encouraging to see that the Wits School of Mining Engineering is playing its role in a manner that has attracted the attention of the QS World University Rankings.”
“The school’s progression is very pleasing and coincides with the Fraser Institute’s higher ranking of South African mining industry as a whole,” said Creamer.
The Fraser Institute is an independent non-partisan research and educational organisation based in Canada.
“South Africa has an Aladdin’s Cave of metals and mineral riches that are estimated by the Citibank to be worth more than R32 trillion. The best way to ensure that this substantial endowment benefits all people of South Africa is by equipping South African students well enough to be able to extract our wonderful national minerals,” said Creamer.
Featured: Wits Mining Engineering Students (clockwise from top left) Kevin Sangweni, Innocent Sithole, Nhlamulo Motilene, Mashudu Tlhatlhetjie, Minenhle Khumalo, Olpha Mtungwa, Remember Kubayi and Tshepang Thulo are very proud of their school’s improved ranking.
Photo: Stephanie Schaffrath
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits drops five spots in global university rankings, March, 2018
- Wits Vuvuzela, Mining Engineering granted five-year accreditation renewal, October, 2017
- Wits Vuvuzela, Not enough job for mining engineering students, April, 2017
UPDATED: Wits University has drops five places in overall gloal university rankings.
Prianka Padayachee, 4th year BSc Mining Engineering, is the first female president of the Students Mining Engineering Society on campus. About 40% of the School of Mining Engineering is made up of female students. Both males and females voted for her to take up the position.
What is it like being a female president in a male-dominated faculty?
It’s difficult, obviously. It takes a lot of getting used to, especially because the guys in the school were not used to it. But over time it has become more acceptable for women to be in leadership.
Would you call yourself a feminist?
I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist but I do believe there shouldn’t be a division in what women can and can’t do. You don’t need to be anti-men to be pro-women. Women should start believing in their abilities.
Why did you choose to do engineering?
I was always interested in the sciences and practical work, and getting my hands dirty. I never saw myself sitting in an office for the rest of my life.
What are some of your most notable achievements?
Well, apart from being the first female president of the Students Mining Engineering Society, last year I was chosen to be the main liaison between the school and the [then] minister of mineral resources, Susan Shabangu, for the mining conference hosted at Wits. I was chosen by the school to deal with the minister, discussing anything she needed to know.
What was that experience like, working with someone with such a high standing in society?
It was an eye-opener. It’s so easy to sit in front of a TV and judge someone’s work. Mining is no longer just about getting minerals and metals out of Earth. It involves politics and many other factors that govern the industry as a whole.
What are some of the false perceptions women have about engineering?
It’s really not a dirty job. It’s not necessarily “unfashionable”, you won’t always get grease under your nails. It’s not only for men. There is another side of engineering. It is logical, creative and innovative and women tend to excel in those fields.
Who inspires you?
Khanyisile Kweyama, a business director at Anglo American. She is in a top position and she makes important decisions about mining. She is the perfect representation of the influence women have in mining.
by Lameez Omarjee, Rofhiwa Madzena and Roxanne Joseph
Today, mining engineering students at Wits celebrated Miner’s Day by gathering outside the Great Hall in their mining attire. They stood in solidarity with all miners, displaying placards and singing struggle songs throughout the day. Wits Vuvuzela spoke to some students, including the Mining Engineering Society’s president, Prianka Padayachee.
The School of Mining Engineering has become the recipient of a R23.6-million cash infusion—most of it for new bursaries—courtesy of the Mining Qualification Authority (MQA).
Celebrating a partnership going back to 2005, the MQA handed the School of Mining Engineering a R23.6-million cheque for investments in mining education during a ceremony on Friday.
Most of the R23.6-million will provide full bursary funding—which includes tuition, accommodation and allowances—to 236 students.
In the School of Mining Engineering, 120 bursaries will be allocated. The chemical and metallurgical engineering school will receive 59 bursaries. The geology school will receive bursaries for 16 students. The other schools in engineering will have 41 students who benefit from bursaries.
“About 50% of students enrolled for mining and minerals qualification drop out of their studies due to financial constraints. Today we are here to make a small contribution towards financial assistance of these students. I hope that this partnership will continue to make a meaningful contribution in the eradication of poverty in our country,” said MQA chief financial officer Yunus Omar.
In addition to the amount provided, the MQA had already given the school R100 000 in support for the school’s program for needy and deserving students.[pullquote]”I hope that this partnership will continue to make a meaningful contribution in the eradication of poverty in our country”[/pullquote]
“We often have students who come here and say we can’t see the white board, or we don’t have food. So we then use this strategic money, in a strategic way towards needy and deserving students,” School of Mining Engineering head Prof Fred Cawood said.
“We look at the candidate; we make an assessment to see whether the money will make the difference. If the money can cause these students to pass at the end of the year, then we allocate.”
Postgraduate students in the School of Mining Engineering will also receive funding for their research projects out of the new donation to the tune of R100 000.
Vice Chancellor Adam Habib thanked the MQA for the donation and reflected on the historic challenges of economic disenfranchisement in society, stressing the need for co-operation between institutions.
“This particular partnership is testimony to what can be done…it creates hope by providing bursaries to students who are particularly disadvantaged,” Habib said.
“Not only do you provide resources for covering the training of students who do not have the resources under normal conditions, you also simultaneously create incentives for your industry. But even more importantly you create hope in society,” said Habib.
The Wits student mining engineering society, dressed to the nines as they suited up and “heeld” up for Mine managers day this afternoon outside the Great hall, in order to celebrate the role of Mine Managers. The students celebrated, by dancing and singing a. Mining student Rafael Kulumba said the idea was to promote management, as they aspire to be like mine managers one day and too show everybody else that our faculty is “Still number one” .