8. State research and development mining centres
Some countries have their own technical research and development organisations that are dedicated to undertaking research to identify innovative ways to improve mining sector productivity, deal with mine safety or find more modern techniques for mining (such as mechanized mining). This topic was explored earlier in this document under Cutting Edge Institutions. In that section, the two key R&D institutions in South Africa that support mining, MINTEK and CSIR were described.
Canada has a world-class research and development institution under the umbrella of Natural Resources Canada called CANMET. The institution mostly champions innovation in mineral processing to support Canada’s mining and steel sectors. It is also a leader in developing clean energy technology.
Most developing countries cannot afford to create stand-alone, world-class research and development institutions that are dedicated to the extractive industries. However, some mining institutions do have a research and development function. More often, this responsibility resides in a country’s institution that supports industry and trade or in an institution that is responsible for innovation across all industrial sectors such as the Innovation Hub in Botswana. One of the few such institutions in Southern Africa, this organisation looks at innovative ways to utilise coal, optimise water resources, promote sustainability and deal with waste management more efficiently. The Innovation Hub has been developed not only to develop but to market new, innovative technologies. This is viewed as a potential employment creator for a country that is suffering very high levels of youth unemployment.
Kenya also has created a national research and technology centre. The Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) is the National Industrial Research, Technology and Innovation Institution under the Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development. It was established in 1979 as a multidisciplinary Institution to conduct Research and Development in Industrial and Allied Technologies. Mining is one of its target areas.