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Global gold mining major highlights academic partnership with South Africa’s Fort Hare

University of Fort Hare Vice-Chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu (left) and South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa.

AngloGold Ashanti CEO Alberto Calderon.

Part of Fort Hare University.

21st June 2024

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The University of Fort Hare, where the offspring of mineworkers were the first graduates, has agreed a R12.5-million, initial ten-year academic partnership with gold mining major AngloGold Ashanti, which no longer mines in this country and is now domiciled in London.

Fort Hare is the university where the globally illustrious Nelson Mandela began his incompleted studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree.

On Thursday, the historic university announced the establishment of the AngloGold Ashanti chair in dairy science and technology, a project designed to sustainably improve yields for small-scale farmers in one of South Africa’s poorest provinces.

Fort Hare’s main campus lies adjacent to Alice, a small town in a rural setting with a fertile valley.

The new chair will drive research activities that contribute to new knowledge production in dairy science, both nationally and regionally and provide research to support rural small-scale farmers in the Eastern Cape and elsewhere in South Africa over an initial ten-year period.

University of Fort Hare Vice-Chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu described the university’s first endowed research chair as ushering in a new dawn for knowledge production to support industry growth, food security, shared prosperity, inclusivity, socioeconomic development and upliftment of stakeholders in the dairy sector value chain and rural communities.

“This grant sets us on a new strategic trajectory by helping the establishment of a Faculty of Veterinary Science, and it ensures a lasting legacy for rural development in the Eastern Cape,” Buhlungu stated in a media release to Mining Weekly.

The multi-million financial endowment is part of a larger investment in legacy projects in education and agriculture that AngloGold Ashanti will carry out over the next five years to honour its commitment to South Africa, its employees and its communities.

“We remain committed to supporting communities with deep links to the country’s mining industry,” said AngloGold Ashanti CEO Alberto Calderon, a Colombia-born former International Monetary Fund luminary.

“This is why we have deliberately targeted the province from which a significant proportion of our workforce was drawn for many decades,” added Calderon.

The poorest of South Africa’s nine provinces, the Eastern Cape has a significant agrarian economy with a large population of subsistence farmers.

The research chair position aligns with South Africa’s National Development Plan, which emphasises the untapped potential of rural agriculture.

The chair’s impact is expected to contribute to several United Nations Millennium Development Goals, including:

• Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger;

• Promoting gender equality and empowering women;

• Reducing child mortality;

• Improving maternal health;

• Ensuring environmental sustainability; and

• Being part of the global partnership for development.

Ironically, Fort Hare was founded in 1916 on the site of an earlier British military stronghold.

UPBEAT NEW INVESTMENT OUTLOOK

The announcement comes shortly after South Africa is showing bright new signs of being more internationally favoured.

Indications of a more positive new outlook on South Africa beginning to arise have been evident this week in international investment events.

For example, speaking to an Australia/South Africa online audience, an upbeat Orion Minerals CEO Errol Smart stated “the sun is finally shining on us” when he outlined how South Africa had become one of the world’s most upbeat investment stories.

Boksburg-born Smart, who heads a base-metals exploration and mine development company that is primarily listed in Australia with a secondary listing in Johannesburg, drew attention to international investment management company JP Morgan upgrading the investment status of South Africa on rand strengthening and the new pragmatic expectations engendered by the establishment of the Government of National Unity under President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Smart also reiterated the comment of Anchor Capital CEO Peter Armitage that South Africa now presented “one of the most compelling investment stories in the world”.

Predicting that this country's investment narrative would superheat over the next couple of weeks, Smart pointed out how strongly this was advancing Orion’s Prieska copper project in the Northern Cape as well as the company’s high-grade Okiep copper project, which was following closely behind, also in the Northern Cape.

Smart is planning to partner, too, with agricultural organisations that can make use of the mine water that Orion will be able to provide.

Gold mining companies are performing at record levels, with South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Harmony Gold Mining Company informing shareholders that it would meet its production, grade and cost guidance for the financial year to end on June 30, and that it continued to generate "exceptional" operating free cash flow on the back of the recovered grades, a higher rand gold price received and sustained operational excellence.

In a pre-close statement published on June 20, CEO Peter Steenkamp noted that group production was expected to exceed the 1.55-million ounces guided, while all-in sustaining costs would come in comfortably below R920 000/kg.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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