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Sustainability, innovation centred at awards

TEBOGO KALE The awards encourage a culture of continuous innovation that South Africa needs as an emerging market

MEMSA 2023 AWARDS Winners will be announced during Memsa’s Mind Shift Conference on May 24 and 25

28th April 2023

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

     

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Winners of this year’s Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa (Memsa) Innovation and Manufacturing Excellence Awards will be announced next month during Memsa’s Mind Shift Conference on May 24 and 25, in Johannesburg.

Drawing on its innovation partners and guest speakers, the industry cluster event seeks to explore trends in innovation and the harnessing of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, in both product design and manufacture, for the South African mining industry.

Key topics at the conference include how innovation can be fostered; the requirements for skills and change management; impacts on employment; harnessing technology for sustainability and using collaboration as a catalyst for innovation.

The conference forms part of the broader conversations around innovation, 4IR in mining and manufacturing that are taking place and will bring together a range of stakeholders from the supply chain, research institutions, skills sectors and government.

Memsa’s Innovation Awards, which has competition categories for innovative equipment manufactured for the mining industry, will announce winners for Innovation in Hard-Rock Mining Equipment; Innovation in Soft-Rock Mining; Innovation in Surface Mining; Innovation in Mineral Processing; and Digital Solutions for Mining.

Memsa’s Manufacturing Excellence Awards, which is themed around innovation and effective integration of digital technologies in customer service and manufacturing applications, will award companies in the Digitalised Services; Manufacturing 4.0; Future Skills Development; Smart Sustainability and People Centred Growth categories.

There is also a special award category for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs), where judges will give special recognition to any high performing SMMEs in any of the abovementioned Manufacturing Excellence Awards categories.

“We understand the particular constraints for SMMEs to develop and bring new products and innovations to market, and this will also be a consideration factor for the judges,” says Memsa CEO Lehlohonolo Molloyi.

The industrial cluster organisation explains that the purpose of the awards initiative is to “showcase, publicise and drive innovation in the South African mining supply chain”.

“These are the only awards focused specifically on South African equipment suppliers in the mining supply chain. “We’ve found that many in the mining, public and research and development sectors were pleasantly surprised by the achievements of the 2022 winners and their potential to bring positive change and stimulate competition in the mining industry to catalyse new research, development, and innovation collaborations,” Memsa elaborates.

The cluster is hopeful that the awards will provide “recognition, motivation and an expanded sense of what is possible, and encourage participation from both large and emerging enterprises”.

It highlights public-private partnership Mandela Mining Precinct’s Isidingo Drill Challenge, noting that this “clearly demonstrates that remarkable things can happen when we allow ourselves to think and play outside of the box”.

“The awards encourage a culture of continuous innovation that South Africa needs as an emerging market,” mining equipment manufacturer Gravitas Minerals founder and CEO Tebogo Kale comments. Kale’s company was the winner of the 2022 Memsa Innovation by an Emerging or Small Enterprise Award.

Winner of the 2022 Memsa Innovation in Mining Infrastructure and Mineral Processing Award, Azmet Technology and Projects’ Ruan Kukard, says that it requires a team of “dedicated, consistent, persistent and like-minded people to achieve success, and turn ideas into value-added, marketable processes and equipment”.

Sustainability in Mining

Sustainability has multiple meanings for the South African mining landscape, Memsa states.

These include a local and secure supply chain; miner health and safety; profitability and extending the life-of-mines; as well as supporting environmental monitoring and sustainability.

“There is strong pressure to improve performance on each of these aspects, and necessity is the mother of invention.”

Local innovations are targeted at meeting the challenges faced in the unique mining conditions in South Africa, including hard-rock, deep-level mining, and remote surface mining operations with limited access to energy and communication infrastructure.

“We are also seeing ongoing innovations aimed at improving the environmental sustainability and safety of all mining activities. Responsive technology development and innovation have always played a key role in keeping the South African mining industry working and underpin our industries’ lengthy history and unique areas of expertise,” the cluster comments.

“We need practical innovations in the mining industry that promote sustainability. One example is battery-driven load, haul, dump vehicles which reduce fumes underground and improve working conditions for miners. Another innovation is repurposing and recycling fines to add value to final products. Technology plays a crucial role in promoting sustainability in mining operations,” Molloyi notes.

“Innovation ensures production of cleaner coal, which is key as coal is a mineral that South Africa holds in abundance. It also encourages safe production in mining and dilutes operating costs, and increases export capacity and competitive ability on a global scale,” Kale concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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