INTERVIEW Please describe any staff development programmes. Our biggest competitive advantage is our human capital. We intend to create at least 10 A-rated geoscientists on the global scale in the next five to 10 years because once you have created a capable institution then all these other things become very easy. Anything and everything is possible when you have competent, agile, committed world-class rated scientists. Do you have a bursary programme? We do. We have just concluded collaborations with many of our universities that have geosciences units. We want to expand that. We have collaborations with the United States geological survey and we are looking at the BRGM of the French and the Swedish and at some of the institutions in the East as well as on the African continent. These things create room beyond the bursary programmes for those who are upcoming and for those who are already in the system to have much greater exposure. One of the things that looks impossible in the world right now is to predict earthquakes. We have been collecting a lot of data and there are huge amounts of data from countries that are prone to earthquakes. We are marrying data that we have collected with multi-disciplinary geoscience functions and subjecting it to big-data processing. The ultimate goal is to try to develop the capability to predict earthquakes, not only for us in South Africa but for greater applications in humanity. Imagine if we crack that as the geoscientific community working together?
It is my deep conviction that our world-class rated geoscientists will arise from those kinds of platforms. What are your targets in terms of staff development? Currently, 37% of our scientific staff has Master’s degrees and doctorates. We have a very ambitious target of 60%. If you have quality staff you will have a quality institution. Do you have mining-specific research projects? We have in the past year been asked to refocus on research related to derelict and ownerless mines. In relation to asbestos and its product, our scientists have installed equipment that detects and quantifies articulate substance in the air. In some areas we have been able to correlate the abundance of asbestos particulate matter in the air with a particular type of sickness within that community. We continue to track the closure procedures of mines. There has been a substantial decline in the amount of fibre in the air and we have seen how that has reduced a particular type of sickness in that community and enhanced general health. Those are some of the results that get us very, very excited: we scientists are just too modest! ■
CGS geologists undertaking integrated mapping, Makhonjwa Mountains.