The Zimbabwe School of Mines (ZSM) is looking to acquire a gold mining asset to form part of the curriculum for training highly skilled practitioners with hands-on experience and ready for the industry.
The initiative will also help the institution to raise revenue for the institution’s training programme.
ZSM principal Mr Edwin Gwaze said ZSM had engaged the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and identified Matabeleland North Province for the project.
Mr Gwaze said the institution would start feasibility studies immediately after getting approvals from the ministry and thereafter, more details on the planned project.
“We are a mining training institution, we produce hands-on practitioners, these are people who do the work in the mining industry.
“In the long run it will bring in revenue and lessen the burden on our students as they can also get tuition from this project,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the Association of Mining Managers of Zimbabwe (AMMZ) conference and annual general meeting (AGM) which was held in Victoria Falls recently.
During the conference, stakeholders discussed one of the challenges affecting students, which is limited vacancies for industrial attachment. The challenge comes at a time student enrolment at tertiary institutions has significantly ballooned in the past decade, with mining and mining-related companies failing to absorb the students.
Mr Gwaze said the ZSM gold mining project would help address the challenge as students would have real mining experience, before going on industrial attachment.
“For now we are relying on mine visits and attachments. However, we feel that as a school, if we have our own mine set up then our students can have an appreciation of mining work because they will be practicing at that mine.
“So this should ease the burden our students face when it comes to attachments. But we will still need our students to be accustomed to all mining methods like open cast mining, underground as well as different minerals like some should get experience in coal mining, others into diamond or platinum mining,” he said.
He said the ZSM was also engaging partners in the mining industry on the setting of the capital-intensive mining operation.
“Setting up a mine is capital intensive, so we will need to work with partners in the sector to help us put everything together. The deposit we find will determine the mining method.
“So far we are looking at areas that are already known –through the Ministry -to have resources,” he said.
For over 90 years the ZSM has been training technicians who have made a positive impact in the mining industry in the SADC region and globally.
The school however is battling technology gaps as global trends are evolving at a faster pace while skills flight adds to the challenges.
“The main challenge is maintaining skills. Our lecturers may get head-hunted by mines and in terms of remuneration, we cannot compete with mining firms,” said Mr Gwaze.