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Bridging the gap between mining and people

- Wits University

The unveiling of the Wits Sibanye-Stillwater Innovation bridge represents an enduring investment in human capital and future engineering skills.

Wits University and Sibanye-Stillwater (tickers JSE: SSW and NYSE: SBSW) have launched the newly refurbished and rebranded Wits Sibanye-Stillwater Innovation bridge ('the Innovation bridge'), a Wits Centenary Project funded by Sibanye-Stillwater

Architect's impression of refurbished Wits Sibanye Stillwater Innovation bridge over M1 JHB  600x300

The launch on 12 July 2023 was accompanied by an additional commitment of R51 million from Sibanye-Stillwater to Wits for study bursaries, learnerships within the Group’s mining operations, graduate internship programmes and staff development within the Wits Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE).

The refurbished Innovation bridge is both a symbol of the past and a gateway to the future. It represents shared value and a strengthening of the partnership forged in 2014, for good.

The launch comes at an opportune time as Wits celebrated its centenary in 2022 and Sibanye-Stillwater celebrates 10 years in 2023.

Shared value, for good

Since 2014, Sibanye-Stillwater has enabled over 500 students to study at Wits by providing bursaries and allowances amounting to R19.4 million. In addition, the Group has contributed R68.5 million in funding for the DigiMine, with a further R5.5 million committed for 2023, and has donated R50 million worth of technical equipment to the FEBE.

“The Sibanye-Stillwater Wits partnership symbolises the fusion of industry and academia, as we join forces to shape the future of mining and create a lasting positive impact on our planet. It is a commitment to the shared values of excellence, integrity, and collaboration,” says Neal Froneman, CEO Sibanye-Stillwater.

Sibanye Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman and Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Zeblon Vilakazi unveil the revamped Innovation Bridge plaque with Prof Lynn Morris DVC Research and Innovation observes.

Unearthing people power

Over the years, the partnership has funded scholarships, bursaries, and postdoctoral fellowships for over 500 students towards careers and a future in the mining industry and beyond.

Similarly, staff development in the FEBE – which houses the School of Mining Engineering, the Wits Mining Institute, and the Sibanye-Stillwater DigiMine, amongst others – has enabled Faculty and professional staff to teach and operate in an environment conducive to producing academically excellent staff and students who meet, and exceed, industry requirements.

Professor Thokozani Majozi, Dean of the FEBE, says, “Wits and Sibanye-Stillwater have walked the research and development path together. These donations and investments have not only contributed to the world-class infrastructure and academic facilities at Wits but also have enabled many learners from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in mining and engineering. This ensures that academia maintains a pipeline of academically excellent researchers, postdoctoral academics, and professionals who are fit for purpose in the industry.”

‘Innovation spine’

The Innovation bridge refurbishment aligns with Wits’ strategy to develop an ‘innovation spine’ – geographic locations where brilliant minds unite to create impactful solutions across all disciplines.

This emerging topographical landscape spans Wits campuses, Braamfontein, and Parktown to connect innovation hubs across mining, healthcare, and tech sectors, amongst others.

The ‘outer spine’ traverses the Wits’ Digital Innovation Precinct, named Tshimologong, as well as FinTech, and health tech hubs.

The ‘inner spine’ links the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP), multiple Wits Engineering schools, and the revamped Geosciences building. It crosses the Innovation Bridge – which links Wits’ East and West campuses – and arcs through the FEBE building and the Wits Mining Institute, the DigiMine, the Tika FabLab, the Telkom Industry Solutions Lab, and the Wits Innovation Centre (WIC), which is home to the David and Angela Fine Chair in Innovation.

“Innovation is what drives us forward and we have a responsibility to enable a space to create, collaborate, and engage in impactful innovation, across disciplines and sectoral boundaries. We must use our knowledge for the advancement of our community, city, country, continent, and the globe to produce outputs, both tangible and intangible for the benefit of humanity, for good,” says Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

This alliance symbolises the fusion of industry and academia to shape the future of mining and create a lasting positive impact on our planet.