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Celebrating 120 years of excellence in service to mining

Wits Mining traces its distinguished history back to the diamond fields of Kimberley.

The South African School of Mines, formed in 1896 in Kimberley, was transferred to Johannesburg in 1904 and renamed the Transvaal Technical Institute. It became the Transvaal University College in 1906 and four years later renamed the South African School of Mines and Technology.

It was from this School – which became the University College Johannesburg in 1920 – that the University of the Witwatersrand emerged on 1 March 1922, as the college was granted full university status.

Prince Arthur of Connaught, Governor-General of the Union of South Africa, became the University’s first Chancellor, and Professor Jan H Hofmeyr its first Principal. Building began on a site in Milner Park donated by the Johannesburg municipality.

Today, the School of Mining Engineering is recognised as one of the world’s top mining engineering schools, with one of the most expansive programmes. It also has one of the highest growth rates of any of the engineering schools or departments, having seen a consistent increase in students to its courses.

As mining requires the skills and technology of several branches of engineering, most of the curriculum for years one and two is common to all branches of engineering. The third and fourth years focus on mining engineering and include technical valuation, ventilation and environmental engineering, mine transport and rock mechanics.

The School’s undergraduate programme is designed to provide graduates with the engineering expertise they require as mining engineers. The School has, in conjunction with the South African mining industry, developed a programme of postgraduate courses designed to cater for the needs of graduates, which include technical subjects for specialist skills in mining, mineral resource management and evaluation, and rock engineering, as well as management skills in evaluation techniques and fundamental mineral economic principles.

The challenges facing mining today are substantial. However, best-practice innovations and technology offer the opportunity for the design and management of high-tech mines that are not only safer, but also more productive and environmentally and socially responsible, while still being economically successful. Wits Mining graduates are up to these challenges and the School of Mining Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand is known and respected internationally for the quality of its programmes and graduates.

Mining Engineering the early yearsAbove left: The Department of Engineering, South African School of Mines, Kimberley (the hole in the wall was caused by a 100lb shell which entered Professor Orr’s Office) 1896 - 1903. Above right: Old Municipal Buildings (known as the “Tin Temple”) with the Old Railway Headquarters,The Railway Station Building, and old University Buildings in background, 1904 - 1926

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