Dumisani Nsingo Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has completed the modalities for the setting up of a Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology (Pamust) in the country, which is aimed at addressing issues of beneficiation and value addition for Africa’s mineral resources in line with the continent’s mining vision. Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said a Bill detailing the operations of the university would be tabled in Parliament this month.
“The Pamust Bill was approved by Cabinet and will be debated in Parliament in two weeks’ time. The University is going to offer highest specialised instructions and provide the fullest equipment for the most advanced training and research in all aspects of exploitation of minerals. “There are three other universities of such nature and they are in Burkina Faso, the other one in Tanzania while the third is in Abuja, Nigeria and each one of them has its own specialisation. The one is Zimbabwe will largely specialise in issues to do with value addition and mineral beneficiation,” he said.
The university is being established as part of a network of African Institutes of Science and Technology (AISTs) being centres of excellence under the auspices of the Nelson Mandela Institute. “The university will train experts in high level specialisation and these will go on to train research and development in other institutions,” Min Chidhakwa said.
The Nigerian college focuses on energy and petrochemical engineering while the one in Tanzania deals with life sciences and bio-engineering. The college in Burkina Faso provides training in water engineering and environment.
These institutions are tasked to train and develop the next generation of African scientists, engineers and technologists who will impact on the continent’s development through the application of science, engineering and technology. Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary, Professor Francis Gudyanga said Pamust would be situated at Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre in Harare. “The Government of Zimbabwe is going to host the Pamust at Sirdc in Harare, which already boasts of well developed infrastructure spanning conference facilities, laboratories and communication networks,” said Prof Gudyanga.
He said the decision to set up the college in Zimbabwe was adopted at the 16th Common Market for Southern and Eastern Africa summit held in Uganda in 2012 after taking into consideration that the country was endowed with minerals and had a well developed mining industry as well as the strong commitment of the country’s leadership towards education. “Zimbabwe has relatively well-trained mineral experts that are soought after the world over and it has the highest literacy rate in Africa, with its central location in Southern Africa, easy accessibility and well-developed infrastructure, Zimbabwe is relatively the ideal position to host the University,” Prof Gudyanga said.
Zimbabwe School of Mines (ZSM) chief executive officer Mr Dzingirai Tusai said the setting up of the Pamust was ideal as it would enable African countries to desist from exporting minerals in their raw state. “The idea of this University is actually to look at the fact that Africa has resources and those resources have to be beneficiated rather than us exporting the raw minerals. We are looking at a situation that we benefit the resources that we have and we build the intellectual capital,” Mr Tusai said. ZSM is expected to be one of the main feeders of skills into Pamust with other institutions being the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and Sirdc.
“It’s actually interesting that the structures that are present at the moment are available to provide that feeder, the Institute of Mining Research, which is housed at the University of Zimbabwe, the Mining and Geology Departments which is also there, ZSM while Sirdc is already there to assist on researches that have been done already in the mineralogy areas,” Mr Tusai said. He said Pamust was important hence its can play an important role in the realisation of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset).
“The Government appropriately so enshrined the Pamust into Zim Asset and its clearly documented and written that this institution is going to be there,” Mr Tusai said. He said Sirdc would house the Pamust on interim basis with a permanent infrastructure set to be constructed in Matabeleland North province. “I’m actually happy that it was pronounced that the final home of the Pamust is going to be in Matabeleland, possibly somewhere in Hwange, Lupane or close to the Victoria Falls area. “Appropriately so because of the fact that’s where the gas is, that’s where the coal is and the province also has gold and geology has actually said that’s where also diamond is stretching from the Tsholotsho area going right up North.”