Minerals processing specialist Multotec spent more than R10-million on education and training development in 2017, while an additional R2-million was spent on the newly built, state-of-the-art training centre in Spartan, Kempton Park, says COO Jannie de Jonge.
De Jonge says Multotec has “invested heavily” in several pilot plants and test rigs located at the company’s facilities in Kempton Park that are used for experiential training, as well as conducting research and development (R&D) projects, with the results shared among the relevant stakeholders in the industry for continuous product improvements.
He also highlights Multotec’s learnership programme, launched during 2015, which identifies talent in-house and externally to provide industry-specialised educational courses for students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, including the physically handicapped, the unemployed and youth, as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.
“The minerals processing industry should start to focus on providing specialised training for the workforce, from top management to grassroots level. A plant operator will need to have specialised skills. If you’re a process engineer or mechanical engineer, you will need to have a sound knowledge of the digitisation side of the software of that particular discipline,” De Jonge advocates.
Since Multotec started its education and training programme, about 150 people have been trained in various disciplines, with learnerships in industrial rubber processing, rubber machine setting, essentials of business communications, business finance and calculations, time management and resolving conflict in a diverse environment.
De Jonge highlights that education and continuous training in minerals processing product applications play a significant role in the global mining sector, since there will be a major shift in workforce competency in five to ten years’ time, from general skills to specialisation, as a result of digitisation accompanying the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“The company has specialised skills in the minerals processing industry, such as customised solutions-based products and accessories for processes in mining, minerals beneficiation, petrochemicals and power generation. We believe we should share our specialisation skills with industry and with clients.”
Multotec’s education and training initiatives include a ‘What is Happening in Industry’ forum, established in 2017, which brings together industry experts and academics to share best practice, knowledge, ideas and the latest trends in technology.
The forum is steered by Multotec technology executive Faan Bornman, and consists of academics who are representatives of minerals processing faculties at the universities of Stellenbosch, Pretoria, North-West, Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand, as well as research institutions, such as Mintek and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
De Jonge says the forum will expand to include all industry stakeholders to ensure that the minerals processing faculties at universities keep abreast of changes in terms of technology to develop relevant and updated curricula, and to facilitate participation in R&D programmes.
Leadership Development Forum
The Multotec Leadership Development Forum was established in 2015 to bridge the leadership gap in the workforce and stimulate innovative ideas and solutions for the minerals processing industry.
“As the digitisation shift is coming, it is critical that strong leaders are developed to come up with new ideas in not only the companies but also industry. We would like to encourage other companies to follow suit and start such programmes to channel innovative thinking in the entire industry,” urges De Jonge.
He emphasises that digitisation in the minerals processing industry is a reality – it will have a major impact on suppliers to the mining industry and the composition of its workforce. The minerals processing industry should, therefore, continue to invest more resources in education and training.