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africa|components|design|efficiency|environment|industrial|mining|safety|systems|technology|training|equipment|maintenance|solutions|environmental|operations

Transforming South Africa's Mining Industry Through Specialist Training Providers

Jacques Farmer

Jacques Farmer

21st November 2023

     

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This article has been supplied by the author and has not been written or solicited by Creamer Media. It may be available only for a limited time on this website.

By Jacques Farmer, Managing Director at PRISMA Training Solutions 

As mining operations transition to modern methods, it is crucial to ensure workers can adapt to thrive in this new landscape. Specialist training providers offer tailored programmes to address the challenges faced by South Africa's mining industry, equipping mine managers and workers with skills to improve safety, labour relations, regulatory compliance, equipment maintenance, and productivity. These providers also prepare mining organisations for the future by helping mining workers transition to the new way of working through upskilling programmes that help workers adopt new technologies. This approach yields benefits such as improved safety, productivity, cost-efficiency, and competitiveness while demonstrating a commitment to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles.

A challenging industrial context

The South African mining industry faces significant challenges related to safety risks, labour disputes, and regulatory compliance. Labour unrest and skills development pose major hurdles, as employees aspire to progress in their careers, but lack clear guidelines for upward mobility. Skills development complexities further complicate matters, requiring alignment with work skills plans, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) components, and social labour plan commitments. However, these challenges should be used as opportunities for growth. To succeed in the future of work, mines must partner with training providers that provide the necessary skills and promote ESG principles. Investing in training that incorporates technology and ESG principles keeps mines ahead in the rapidly evolving industry. 

A challenging career context

Within the mining workforce, specific difficulties exist at three levels. First, training in mining and related programmes is limited to mine employees, hindering people seeking entry-level positions from accessing relevant skills development opportunities. Second, communication and language proficiency present challenges within the mining environment, as employees struggle with industry-specific terminologies. However, various training methodologies can be employed to address these obstacles and improve competencies. Third, individual career paths and personal development plans face obstacles due to the evolving nature of the mining industry. Market fluctuations and changes in mine operations impact employees' development plans, necessitating adaptability in career development strategies.

Partnering for workforce growth

Experienced industry training providers can be instrumental in addressing these challenges through customised programmes that equip managers and workers with the necessary skills and knowledge to progress. Their approach to personal transition in the mining industry involves intensive consultation and human capital development. The right training partner will collaborate closely with mining management to conduct comprehensive training needs and gap analyses, developing tailored training matrices. Individualised career path development plans are then created in collaboration with employees, aligning with their goals and the unique aspects of their mining operations.

Tackling technological advancements

To ensure that training meets the specific needs of each mining operation, experienced training providers design hybrid solutions that address direct safety requirements and operational demands. Customised learning materials and training delivery are prioritised to meet site-specific conditions and machine specifications. The focus is on targeted growth areas, resulting in highly customised training initiatives. Training workers to adapt to emerging technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence is essential as mining methods become more modern and technology-driven. Regardless of the size of the mining company, there is a strong focus on understanding and leveraging new technologies to optimise and improve operations. Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) simulations, training management systems, and performance tracking systems are incorporated to enhance efficiency, employee productivity, and safety, meeting shareholders' expectations and upholding ESG principles.

Achieving safety and productivity

The mining industry emphasises responsible and safe mineral extraction, and technology plays a vital role in achieving these goals. The aim is not to replace workers with technology but rather to make them more productive, efficient, and safe. The goal is to create a work environment that maximises productivity while prioritising employee safety and well-being. By embracing technology, mining companies can ensure responsible and safe mining practices, making it an essential component in achieving these objectives.

Facilitating adaptation and adoption of technology

The right training partner plays a vital role in helping mines prepare for the future of work while promoting their ESG principles. By incorporating the latest technology and aligning training methodologies with current and future needs, mines can derive several benefits from investing in such training. Integrating technology into training programmes creates a more engaging learning experience, ensuring employees are prepared to adopt emerging technologies effectively. Involving learners in the process and collaborating with technology partners and stakeholders ensures a successful implementation. 

Shifting Perceptions of Mining Careers

Training providers contribute to the industry's rapid evolution by focusing on efficiency, benchmarking, and best practices, resulting in improved productivity, safety, and ESG goal attainment. Continuous training and adherence to benchmarking standards enable employees to work more efficiently and safely, leading to increased productivity in mineral extraction. These efforts contribute to ESG goals, such as achieving economic and social objectives and fostering safe working environments. Consequently, this may improve the perception of the mining industry as an employer of choice by prioritising employee growth, and well-being, and mitigating the risks and hazards associated with mining operations.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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