The mining industry needs to employ more skilled workers with higher qualifications to progress and modernise, which will, in turn, enable the industry to operate safer and more efficiently, says mining investment company Menar group social licensing manager Xolile Mankayi.
Menar runs several human resources development programmes geared towards uplifting the skills development base at its subsidiaries’ operations.
Canyon Coal operates several coal mines in Mpumalanga and Gauteng, Kangra mines coal in Mpumalanga and Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) produces anthracite in KwaZulu-Natal, while East Manganese operates in the Northern Cape.
“All of these endeavours are aimed at upskilling local community members, particularly in the rural areas where many of our mining operations are located. The programmes are conducted in order to increase local community members’ opportunities for being employable in the mining sector. To this end, we offer a range of training programmes such as articulated dump truck (ADT), front-end loader (FEL) and excavator operator skills training,” Mankayi says. The group also provides vacation work for its bursary and non-bursary holders.
How Menar Does It
To address the mining skills shortage in the Bronkhorstspruit area, in Gauteng, where Khanye Colliery is located, Canyon Coal embarked on an upskilling programme for locals.
Twenty community members attended a 30-day mobile machinery for surface mining training programme from November to December in 2019.
Mankayi says the trainees received theoretical and practical training on how to safely and correctly operate machinery such as ADTs. Additionally, the trainees also received hazardous chemical firefighting and first aid training, which complements their overall skills sets and employability. We ensure that all our skills development programmes are aligned with the Mining Qualification Authority standards for accreditation and recognition.
Canyon Coal also runs regular Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) programmes at its mines, which forms part of the human resource development commitment within the social and labour plan (SLP) for Phalanndwa Colliery, in Delmas, Mpumalanga.
“The aim of ABET is to develop the educational levels of the employees and communities through learning. The programme offers all eligible employees and community members opportunities to become functionally literate and numerate,” Mankayi explains.
From 2018 to 2019, nine groups of 15 people received National Qualifications Framework Level 1 to Level 4 numeracy and literacy training at the Phalanndwa Colliery ABET Training Centre.
Since its establishment in 2015, more than 60 people have been upskilled through ABET programmes presented at the mine.
“This year, we are planning to embark on the ADT operator skills programme to re-skill qualifying members from host communities in Phalanndwa,” Mankayi says.
Meanwhile, Kangra – in conjunction with one of its service providers – aided eight young local community members in acquiring mining skills by presenting a course on operating mobile machinery for surface excavation operations for FEL.
The week-long course, which was first offered in February last year, included a basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation course.
“This year, we had an intake of 50 cadets for in-service training from the local community, with the aim of upskilling them for employment,” Mankayi adds.
Even though ZAC was placed under care and maintenance in March last year, it has continued to provide young people with technical training through its internship and learnership programmes. ZAC continues to award bursaries as part of its SLP.
The mandate of Menar Social Licensing Unit is to make a meaningful contribution to local mining communities as part of ZAC’s SLP requirements.
“The awarding of bursaries is an important part of our mandate and commitment to supporting communities through educational development. Bursaries can have life-changing impacts on individuals, as well as families and communities.”
Meanwhile, the recruitment of bursary, internship and learnership recipients is under way at Menar’s newest enterprise, East Manganese, along with the development of skills development programmes to upskill and empower local community members, with a special focus on youth skills development.
“The lockdown caused a significant disruption in educational activities across South Africa, and mining and engineering training was no exception. “Training providers postponed and, in some instances, cancelled training programmes altogether,” Mankayi laments.
However, many institutions were able to seamlessly transition their education and training programmes to online platforms.
Mankayi tells Mining Weekly that Menar companies decided to freeze in-house training programmes until further notice, “but we continue to provide full support for learnerships, bursaries and graduate in-training programmes”.
He adds that a major challenge is the high demand for skills development programmes and employment, but that there are limited resources and opportunities.
“The Menar Social Licensing Unit engages with local community forums to manage expectations and explain that only a limited number of people can be accommodated at any given time,” he concludes.