The Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of South Africa (Aspasa) says it has become a world leader in the proactive guidance and management of issues facing the surface mining industry, subsequent to gaining the recognition of its local and international stakeholders.
Aspasa’s proactive stance has led to other types of surface mining operations also seeking inclusion among its ranks, it notes. Therefore, the association has opened eligibility for membership to a more diverse range of mining types, which have not been represented by government or mining industry structures.
Aspasa director Nico Pienaar says the decision to diversify the association to include other surface mining types provides those who have not previously been represented on formal mining structures with a “strong and unequivocal voice”. He adds that it also gives those with limited manpower access to a range of administrative, technical, compliance and skills development services.
Pienaar explains that, since Aspasa’s inception in August 1990, the association has “elevated the quarrying industry to become a leading figure within the local mining framework”. He adds that the association has attracted an increasing number of nonaggregate and sand producing companies seeking the services of Aspasa.
“Our growing numbers suggest that we are indeed doing good work for the industry. As the needs [of the industry] change, so do our services, and we constantly strive to survey members’ changing requirements to adapt our [service] offerings,” Pienaar enthuses.Industry Involvement, Initiatives
Aspasa has been involved in many issues that pertain to employers and employees in the surface mining sector. It serves on the Mine Health and Safety Council, on the Mine Regulations Authority, and on various subcommittees. In addition, the association has a seat on the South African Chamber of Mines and has a close relationship with various infrastructure bodies.
Aspasa’s technical committee is a new focus area for the association, says Pienaar, adding that technical and quality issues are becoming increasingly critical, as new techniques, technologies and methods, such as automation and the Internet of Things, drive the supply of more efficiently obtained materials. A quality committee has subsequently been developed for Aspasa members and will become active next year.
For Aspasa and its members, social responsibility is essential. This is owing to the quarrying industry’s close proximity to communities, which has prompted Aspasa to work closely with surrounding communities. Pienaar explains that the same applies to new mining members from other sectors, with Aspasa encouraging member companies to recruit people living close to mining operations they own.
In addition, the association prioritises assisting surrounding communities with the supply of materials or services that can improve their livelihoods, Pienaar adds.
Aspasa offers several training and certification courses, as well as workshops, which cover a range of sectors within the mining industry. Its opencast mining courses include a further education and training certificate for mining operations, and a national certificate for rock breaking surface excavations.
Opencast mining skills programmes include blasting assistance in surface mines and quarries; the making safe and declaring safe of surface mines, quarries, dumps and stockpiles; the control of explosives magazines on surface mines and quarries; the installation, maintenance and removal of support units in surface mines and quarries; operating mobile equipment for surface excavation operations, occupational health and safety activities for part-time or workplace representatives and shop stewards in mining and minerals; and the handling of explosives on mines.
Aspasa also held a health and safety workshop on October 10, with various health and safety levels and issues addressed. Trade union Solidarity’s deputy general secretary for occupational health, safety and sustainable development, advocate Paul Mardon, hosted the workshop this year. The workshop included emergency preparedness; the rights, duties and responsibilities of employers and employees in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA), of 1996; the roles and functions of health and safety representatives and shop stewards in the workplace; and MHSA investigations.