African Rainbow Minerals Allocates R20 Million for Research at Wits University

JOHANNESBURG ( – Diversified mining company African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) is supporting postdoctoral research into water, energy and digitalisation at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg.

The investment is firmly located within the university’s mining precinct and dovetails with the university’s broader initiatives in quantum computing, fintech and innovation.

ARM will sponsor a R20-million endowment, which will be invested in perpetuity. The investment return on the endowment will be used to support research in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.

The ARM postgraduate fellowship programme aims to develop a critical mass of skills in South Africa through supporting a new cohort of postdoctoral fellows specialising in water resource management, digitalisation, and work towards a Just Energy Transition.

ARM founder and executive chairperson, Dr Patrice Motsepe, a Wits alumnus, described partnering with South African institutions of higher learning as being of paramount importance.

“Public-private partnerships are crucial in addressing the socio-economic and environmental challenges confronting our communities and country,” Motsepe emphasised.

“ARM works with several universities across South Africa, supporting young people from undergraduate to post-graduate studies, helping them to realise their dreams,” said Motsepe.

“Some of these students come from communities neighbouring our mining operations. We also contribute to the development and upliftment of poor rural and urban communities in South Africa by educating students from these communities,” Motsepe added.


Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, in a release to Mining Weekly, recognised the importance of digital transformation in the mining industry, and the necessity to develop the critical skills needed to advance South Africa’s economy.


Vilakazi expressed confidence that through more private sector partnerships such as the ARM partnership, Wits could help to make a major contribution to the development of the critical skills and research needed to secure long-term mining industry sustainability.

Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment Dean, Professor Thokozani Majozi, highlighted the need for urgency in transitioning to a more sustainable and just energy system.


“Research and promotion of accessible, affordable, and socio-economically just renewable energy solutions are our top priorities,” said Majozi, who reiterated the university’s aim to contribute to the sustainable management of water resources through research, education, increased awareness and community engagement.


“This includes addressing challenges related to water scarcity, pollution and climate change,” he added.

ARM CEO Phillip Tobias described the postdoctoral fellowship programme as testament to ARM’s commitment to addressing critical challenges in water, energy and digitalisation.


“This initiative is about creating a pipeline of future critical skills that will cater for future business needs. We believe that through this collaboration, we can make a significant impact and leave a lasting legacy that will provide innovative and sustainable solutions that will benefit not only the mining industry but broader South African society as well,” Tobias said.


The ARM Wits partnership has resulted in the current Chamber of Mines Building on the Braamfontein West Campus, facing the M1 highway, being renamed the Wits ARM Building, an edifice which is a central component of the university’s academic and research infrastructure.


Opened in 1989 with the fourth quadrant completed in 2012, the building houses the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment’s administration, the School of Mining Engineering, and the School of Electrical and Information Engineering. It is also home to the multidisciplinary Wits Mining Institute, DigiMine, and two other research entities.

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