Ivanhoe Mines, the University of Limpopo in South Africa and Laurentian University in Canada signed an agreement officially launching an educational collaboration between the two universities. The collaboration, initiated and sponsored by Ivanhoe’s South African subsidiary, Ivanplats, was celebrated at a signing ceremony on the University of Limpopo campus attended by officials from Laurentian University, the University of Limpopo, Ivanhoe and the South African and Canadian governments.

A principal goal of the five-year partnership, which is renewable for a further five years, is to develop and equip the University of Limpopo’s geology department to become a center of excellence in geosciences. This will be achieved through measures that include:

  • improved training and curriculum choices in economic geology and mineral exploration at the University of Limpopo;
  • increased teaching and research capacities at the graduate student level;
  • equipping laboratories;
  • purchasing an outdoor vehicle and trailer for field excursions; and
  • collaborating with Laurentian University to improve the University of Limpopo’s learning programs.

Ivanplats also will provide in-service training opportunities for students from both universities and assist them in conducting research on the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex.

Ivanhoe Mines, through Ivanplats, has allocated $2.5 million to the Limpopo and Laurentian universities to fund their partnership during its initial five years. In addition to Ivanhoe’s investment, Laurentian University, of Sudbury, Ontario, has been awarded C$500,000 in scholarship funds for the project through the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology (QEII-GSST) Program.

Combined with a C$570,000 scholarship awarded to Laurentian by the International Development Research Corp., these funds will create educational opportunities for 35 University of Limpopo students to study in Canada. Scholarship funding from the three sources will support undergraduate, Master of Science (MSc), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) positions at Laurentian and be focused on topics and research in mineral exploration and economic geology. The QEII-GSST scholarship will fund up to 15 graduate students and faculty from the University of Limpopo to pursue MSc and PhD studies at Laurentian’s Department of Earth Sciences.

The funds also will support a number of Laurentian’s graduate students to travel to Limpopo for three-to-four-month internships over the course of the first five years of the funding agreement with Ivanhoe. These advanced graduate students will teach and assist junior faculty at the University of Limpopo.

Robert Friedland, executive chairman and founder of Ivanhoe Mines, explained that the two universities are natural partners to work toward shared objectives.

“We are confident that this initiative will help to facilitate the University of Limpopo’s development to become a center for excellence in mining education and, in the process, help to realize the potential for economic growth that is inherent in South Africa’s heritage of abundant natural resources,” Friedland said. “Canada’s Sudbury Basin and South Africa’s Bushveld Complex are two of the most extraordinary geological features on planet Earth and now host two of the largest mining districts on earth — as well as these two enterprising universities. Laurentian, with its Goodman School of Mines, has partnered with the domestic mining industry to provide some of the qualified people who are essential for industry operations. The University of Limpopo now can begin drawing on Laurentian’s vast experience to enhance its preparation of young South Africans with knowledge and skills that are required tickets to productive, rewarding careers in their modernizing mining industry.”

Professor Mahlo Mokgalong, vice chancellor and principal of the University of Limpopo, said the development of skills for the mining sector was crucial for the continued growth of the mining sector, a pillar of the South African economy. “As a tertiary institution, we are determined to remain relevant to South Africa’s overall economic growth, Mokgalong said. “This partnership with Laurentian University and Ivanplats helps to strengthen our academic programs in ways which will allow young people to actively participate in the sustainable economic growth of Limpopo province.”

“This is an exciting international venture and we acknowledge the vision of Ivanplats, which is investing in future generations of geoscience professionals and educators in South Africa,” said Dr. Bruce Jago, executive director, Goodman School of Mines at Laurentian University.

A portion of the funding will be used to hire a full-time academic tutor/program administrator to provide educational and administrative support for the successful completion of designated educational programs for Limpopo students, along with other support typically offered to all Laurentian international students.