New mining qualifications on the horizon, says UJ expert

Date: Dec 9, 2014 | News

​The University of Johannesburg (UJ) will be offering three-year Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BET) degrees for mining-related disciplines, likely from 2017, further entrenching its position as developer of aspirant mining managers.​​​

​Recently the Department of Higher Education and Training (DoHET) prescribed a new set of qualifications, which created an opportunity in mining education, says Mr. Peter Knottenbelt, Professional Certificated Engineer. The University of Johannesburg has developed a new qualification in response, which will be called the Bachelor of Engineering Technology: Mining, Extraction Metallurgy or Rock Engineering or Mine Ventilation.

​“The qualifications enable us to extend our academic status,” says Knottenbelt, “and will eventually lead to higher qualifications such as honours, masters or doctorate qualifications that have not until now found a place in the Mining Engineering structures at UJ.”

​UJ is the only contact institution that provides this type of occupational degree in mining engineering in South Africa. In addition, the University offers the only full-time qualification for mine surveying and specialist extraction metallurgy.

​Mining Engineering is a combination of several areas that involves organising, operating and monitoring mining processes in conjunction with environmental protection and health and safety.

​Knottenbelt currently assists Dr Andre Dougall, the Head of Mining Department, in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE).​

For most of the period 1992 to 2012 Knottenbelt served as Head of Department at both UJ and legacy institution Technikon Witwatersrand.​

​​UJ supplies industry expertise

​UJ Mining Engineering graduates have easily found employment in the minerals sector, which has been the backbone of the economy of South Africa for over a century, saysKnottenbelt.

​“Many move into management positions within a few years of graduating. We estimate that 60% of all mid- and senior management at mines in South Africa were educated through UJ and its legacy institutions. Many UJ graduates in mine management, metallurgical management and mine surveying reach executive positions in the industry.”

​The Department of Mining is growing: currently it attracts the highest number of applicants nationally, with over 140 new students admitted to the diploma course per year. Currently, more than 70 BTech students graduate in the Mining Department each year.

​​Real-world training

​The Department of Mining has always focused on training of operational management, says Knottenbelt, with Work Integrated Learning (WIL) as a crucial component.

“Nationally and internationally industry appears to favour our graduates for the production activities at mines, mainly due to the practical nature of the UJ programme and the strength of the WIL component of the qualifications.”

Zafeer Nagdee

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