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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: September 11th 2006


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:: Mintek Joins SA Environmental Observation Network

Mintek, specialists in mineral and metallurgical research and development (R&D), technology transfer and beneficiation, today (Friday, 1 September 2006) signed an accession agreement with the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON).

As an active participant in SAEON, Mintek will exchange information and material relating to the environmental and socio-economic aspects of its project work other than that which is commercially sensitive or otherwise confidential in nature with SAEON. The information will be made available to all participants and to the public through the SAEON Connection network, for the purposes of research, management advice, policy-making, and science education.

"Participation in SAEON will complement our own research in this area, and strengthen our collaboration with government and industry" said Petrus Fusi, Mintek's general manager for mineral economics and sustainable development. "The major benefits for Mintek include access to long-term environmental observation data, and closer collaboration with other researchers, as well as stimulating observation science and monitoring activities within Mintek itself".

Sustainable development is one of the core themes in Mintek's integrated R&D strategy, which was adopted in 2005. The Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) makes a significant contribution in this regard to the South African mining industry, in particular through its ongoing participation in the "Sustainable Development through Mining" initiative championed by the Department of Minerals and Energy.

SAEON, an initiative of the National Research Foundation, is a distributed observatory system and research facility, linked by an information management network, which serves as a research and education platform for long-term studies of ecosystems. Its aim is to identify, understand, and predict environmental problems that threaten sustainable growth and development, and to recommend policy interventions to address them.

"Long-term environmental observation is essential for achieving sustainable growth and development strategies in South Africa", said Johan Pauw, head of SAEON. "SAEON aims to bring about better cohesion between research programmes nationally and internationally, and to ensure that data is archived and accessible as a national asset for generations to come."

SAEON's observational strategy is implemented through a network of "nodes", each of which comprises a constellation of sites linked to a geographical area or theme. Its partners include South Africa's science councils and institutions, government departments, universities, conservation agencies, and other organisations. It also has strong links with similar international initiatives such as the Environmental Long-Term Observatories of Southern Africa (ELTOSA), the International Long-Term Ecological Research Network (ILTER), and the Group on Earth Observation (GEO).




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