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MEI Online: General Minerals Engineering: Latest News: January 24th 2005


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:: Mintek and UCT Extend Collaborative R&D

Mintek and the University of Cape Town have entered into an agreement to explore new opportunities for collaborative research and human resource development in the areas of mineral and metallurgical technology.

Mintek's General Manager of R&D Dr Francis Petersen said that the agreement was in line with Mintek's aim of maintaining an appropriate balance between commercial activities and industry-aligned research. 'The strengthening of our interactions with academic institutions offers a more affordable way of engaging in cutting-edge research, and makes better use of national and international resources', he said.

Mintek and UCT already co-operate on a wide range of research projects, including flotation, comminution and bioprocessing, the high-temperature properties of platinum superalloys (in collaboration with the Platinum Development Initiative), and gold-based catalytic materials (as part of the catalysis module of project AuTEK).

Possible future synergies include the modelling of DC arc furnaces (the university recently established a very strong multidisciplinary group in the field of computational fluid dynamics) and applied mineralogy.

Human resource development forms a very important non-technical aspect of the agreement. Part of the collaboration aims to accelerate the growth of the next generation of scientists by means of a joint postgraduate bursary programme. Mintek and the university are considering setting up a 'superbursary' with the aim of attracting exceptionally talented students into the engineering professions.

UCT's Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment has won international acclaim for its multidisciplinary research in areas such as minerals processing and energy. The great relevance of its research programmes and projects to the needs of industry is shown by the considerable level of industrial funding. The university is also a major beneficiary of THRIP (Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme), the government's flagship programme to promote partnerships between industry and research institutions to improve South Africa's global competitiveness.

'The agreement with Mintek is a further indication of how the university is re-configuring its relationships with the Science Councils and with the private sector', said Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation. 'Fundamental research and applied science are coming to be regarded as two ends of a spectrum, rather than in terms of a dichotomy.'




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