Black-owned private artisan training academy the Artisan Training Institute (ATI) has been awarded a contract by a South Africa-based diversified mining major to conduct training programmes at the facility for the next ten years.
“The mining house is investing about R180-million in the construction of a technical training centre in Kuruman, in the Northern Cape, and in technical equipment that will be used there,” explains ATI director Sean Jones.
He notes that the contract was secured in 2012 and that ATI will provide a full spectrum of engineering training, which will include training for boilermakers, fitters and turners, diesel mechanics, riggers, electricians, auto electricians and tractor mechanics.
“Currently, the training institute is in the final phases of architectural design. The project will break ground at Kuruman in June,” says Jones.
He highlights that providing training services for mining company employees who have the appropriate science and maths skills levels is a key challenge, owing to the generally poor quality of South Africa’s schooling system.
“It is challenging to find young people with suitable entry-level qualifications,” Jones asserts.
He notes that demand for artisan training has stagnated in recent years, but adds that pressure from the Mining Charter, compounded by the need for mining companies to meet their black economic-empowerment goals, will likely improve future demand.
Jones points out that the platinum-sector strikes, which started in January and were still ongoing at the time of print, have not impacted negatively on ATI, as is the case for other contractors servicing the mining industry.
“We have actually registered positive growth as a result of the strikes, as mining companies have taken the opportunity to train their staff during this time,” he says, adding that ATI is one of the few suppliers to have benefited from the strikes.
Meanwhile, a contractor to the platinum sector, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells Mining Weekly that the strikes, spearheaded by the Association of Mineworkers and Construc-tion Union (AMCU), could turn violent, should the R12 500 wage increase not be met.
“During discussions with my staff members, some of whom are AMCU members and reside in the areas surrounding Marikana, they have communicated to me that the strike has gone on for too long,” the contractor says.
He adds that the staff feel that AMCU presi-dent Joseph Mathunjwa’s promises to AMCU members have put him in a difficult position. “They also said that mineworkers from the Eastern Cape could potentially take extreme action against Mathunjwa, should the wage increase not be granted.
“My staff members are not involved in the strike but they are in contact with AMCU members who are,” the contractor concludes.