Mabena says that the intention is to put an initial 350 unemployed learners through artisan training courses as Esda employees, and then increasing the throughput to 1 000 a year in three years.
"It will be an independent agency that is incubated at the chamber," Mabena says.
Esda will employ the learners during their period of technical training on mines.
Individual mines will then be free to employ the Esda graduates, who will also be free to take up employment outside of the mining industry.
"We will inform other industries of the availability of these artisans in the job market," Mabena reports.
Esda intends partnering the Mining Qualifications Authority, the statutory body that registers artisans once they are qualified.
Esda will seek funding from the National Skills Fund, and not the mining companies themselves, many of which are already spending large percentages of total payroll on training.
"We can't expect those companies to spend more on training the unemployed," says Mabena, who will be enlisting the support of all mining companies to ensure that Esda succeeds.
Demand for artisans is high and even one individual platinum company is running short of as many as 350 artisans a year, so the volume being trained may turn out to be grossly inadequate.
Employee retention will be the job of the companies who eventually employ them, against the background of foreign countries currently denuding South Africa of its artisan skills.
"The war for talent is unquestionable," says Mabena.
"Esda will make a difference," Mabena predicts, though he hopes that red tape will not delay its implementation.
The creation of Esda coincides with Chamber of Mines president Sipho Nkosi declaring South Africa's skills deficit a "national crisis".