He attributes this to large-scale infrastructural development leading up to the 2010 soccer World Cup, to be hosted in South Africa.
“However, I don’t see this growth dropping off after 2010.
“The industry has never experienced such growth before. This sudden rise in demand has placed pressure on many aggregate and sand producers,” he adds.
This has also resulted in mostaggregate and sand producersinstalling additional capacity tohandle the existing demand.
However, Dent is quick to point out that there will be no shortage of material for future development.
He says that members of Aspasa, in total, are easily producing over 100-million tons of material each year, especially when consideringthe recent demand for building material for infrastructure develop-ment.
Aspasa, as a national body that represents reputable aggregate and sand companies, is also responsiblefor promoting the aggregate and sand industry.
Aspasa’s purpose is to set standardsand guidelines with regard to health, safety and environmental issues as well as technical, transport, and human resource (HR) issues.
These issues are still takingprecedence among its members of Aspasa, says director Nico Pienaar.
The association’s ethical approachto these matters is reinforced through the auditing process itimplements to ensure that itsmembers are complying.
The development of its ownin-house auditing programme,based on its health and safety guidelines, brought real health and safety issues to the fore, says Pienaar.
In many cases, management is not aware of its responsibilities in the workplace and Aspasa’s role as a facilitator to awareness hasenhanced safety practices across its member base.
The chairperson of the Aspasa health and safety committee, Tom Bellamy, says that as time has passed, more quarries have raised the bar, necessitating continual improvements, not only to thesystems applied in the quarries, but also to the auditing programme.
Environmental matters previously found in the audit have beenremoved and placed in anotherauditing programme called the About Face programme, says Bellamy. This programme is to be upgraded shortly as well.
The first About Face programme was started by the National Stone Association in the US in 1975 asa way to encourage members to ‘beautify’ their operations, to present a more acceptable face for the quarry industry to the public at large, and to reward quarries accordingly.
The About Face South Africaprogramme began in 1993.
As a result of the experience gained over the years and suggestions from the industry, the evalu-ation manual has been revised from time to time.
In 2002 it was agreed that theprogramme would be conducted every two years.
The About Face programme was modified in 2004 and aligned with international trends using ISO standards for auditing theenvironment.
It is similar to the US model, but more orientated towards overallenvironmental management.
A greater emphasis is placed on the quarry’s working within itsenvironment, so that, at the end of its life, the area will slip back into the environment without thenecessity for complex maintenance programmes.
For example, the About Faceevaluation manual explains that, while a small exotic garden around the office with a well-kept lawn makes a good impression, it would not be practical to have large areas of exotic grass with herbaceousborders and exotic tree specimens.
Indigenous flora suited to theparticular area where the quarryis situated would be more appropriate.
The evaluation process itself is initiated in a meeting with theoperation’s management team where the evaluation team will discussgeneral issues.
This is followed by a physical inspection of the operation.
According to the evaluation, to excel in environmental performance,a quarry must have developed and applied additional effective initiatives and/or more comprehensive management systems regarding the environment. Finally, the report will be delivered to the operation on completion of the evaluation.
In Pienaar’s view, the About Face programme is adding greater value to its members’ operations.
He also says that Aspasa is receiving the Department of Minerals and Energy’s (DME’s) support and parti-cipation in the matter.
“This programme is a form of self-regulation. It’s not necessarilycompulsory for our members, but it does place the focus of theiroperations on the environment. Also, it has the minimum legal compliance, serving not only laws such as the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), but also other environmental laws,” explains Pienaar.
Aspasa’s health and safety committee has embarked on a redevelopment of its initiating health and safety education (ISHE) programme along the lines of the OHSA 18 000 specifications, reports Bellamy.
“The idea is that this programme will become integrated with theoperation’s own systems, allowing the big and small to be compared.” He says that, currently, the existingISHE system is somewhat favourable to the larger members and has been debated among members for some time.
He points out that the safety laws are applicable no matter what the size of the operation is.
“The next step will be having a dry run of the programme . . . with the successful outcome allowing the release of the programme early in 2007,” says Bellamy.
ISHE is the health and safetyprogramme run by Aspasa to keep up to date with the latest developments in health and safety practices.
The health and safety programme was originally introduced in 1997, mainly in Gauteng and selected areas.
It was called the Aspasa inland regional safety competition.
As a result of the experience gained since then, and following suggestions from the industry, the entire programme was revisedextensively in 1999.
The health and safety programme consists of an annual evaluationof those quarries, sand-winning operations and dump operations that have entered the programme.
The evaluation is conducted over a few hours by a judge in conjunction with the operations management team and, often, DME officials participate in the evalu-ation as well.
According to Aspasa’s health and safety manual for judges andentrants, an experienced health and safety practitioner leads the team of judges.
Health and safety issues: silicosis and noise-induced hearing loss
Pienaar says that two areas ofconcern that the mine health and safety council (MHSC), supportedby Aspasa, is looking into aresilicosis and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) Dust containing crystallinesilica, which causes silicosis, iscapable of disabling and event-ually killing mine workers who are exposed to this dust.
According to Pienaar, the disease may go undetected for 15 to 20 years after exposure, and it may progress even after exposure has stopped.
While the problem has plagued industry since 1895, evidence at hand strongly suggests that verylittle is being achieved to bringdust levels down, states Pienaar.
With regard to NIHL, it isaccepted that regular exposure to noise that exceeds an average of85 dB will result in occupationalhearing loss within five to ten years.
“As populations live longer and industrialisation spreads, NIHL will substantially add to the global burden of hearing disability,” comments Pienaar.
Mining operations in South Africa are labour intensive, areinherently noisy, and take place in confined spaces.
In the past, the Mines and Works Act (1995) did not expressly oblige employers in the mining industry to prevent or reduce the risk ofoccupational hearing loss.
While there was emphasis on personal protection as the primary strategy – seen in the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (1973) – it was not until the Leon Commission of Enquiry identifiednoise-induced hearing loss as a major problem in the miningindustry that weaknesses were recognised in control measures.
Road transport management system
Speaking at a conference on November 8, Pienaar highlighted the importance of a road transport management system (RTMS).
During 2003, a heavy vehicleaccreditation scheme wasdeveloped and implemented inthe forestry industry in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
The scheme was developed to promote compliance with standardsin the area of load control andsecuring of cargo, vehicle maintenance, and driver wellness.
According to Pienaar, the successof the project in the forestry industryresulted in similar initiativesbeing discussed in other industries, including pulp, paper and board,bitumen, coal, sugar, aggregate and sand, and ready-mixed concrete.
He says that a national steering committee was establishedto coordinate the various initiatives and a strategy document wasdeveloped.
This strategy document was used to approach the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) todevelop standards for transportoperators, consignors and consignees.
RTMS is an industry-led, volun-tary, self-regulation scheme that encourages consignees, consignorsand road transporters to implement a management system that preserves road infrastructure, improves road safety and increases productivity.
“The process has now developed to the constituting of Stanza TCI 181b: Road Transport Management Systems,” says Pienaar.
Further, he explains that such a programme is necessary for com-panies to enhance reputation.
Also, he says that traffic laws are moving in the direction of placinga legal responsibility on the con-signors of goods, transporters, and consignees, to ensure that over-loading of trucks does not take place.
“Overloaded and poorly maintained vehicles need to be elimi-nated, road deterioration needs to be curbed, accidents of heavyvehicles need to be reduced, and there need to be fair competition between transporters,” comments Pienaar.
In a meeting held in August this year, Aspasa and the South African Ready Mix Association resource committee convened to discussfuture plans in a strategic session.
Representatives agreed thatpriorities to be set for 2007 include the setting up of subcommittees through the regional committees.
This is to facilitate communica-tion between HR representatives inthe association to discuss relevant issues within the HR field.
Also, an HR conference is planned for 2007, as well as aneducational trip to create awareness of how companies are tackling the issue of skills development.
It was also agreed at the meeting that a survey should be done among member companies to determine what the real skills shortage in the industry is, and it was agreed that a survey document on legal com-pliance is needed to assist memberson the requirements of humanresource compliance.
In the area of skills development, the cement, lime, aggregate and sand organisation (CLAS) held a meeting in early November in Durban, where feedback on the organisation’s skills programmes was discussed.
One-million rand had beenallocated by the MQA for the CLAS sector for use in training in variousareas.
So far, 250 learners are to be trained in the programme in order to tackle the skills shortage in the mining sector.
The meeting at Durban also noted that the amended explosives regulation was to be promulgated in November this year.
The blasting ticket boards will cease to function at the end of March 2009.
From there on, the MQA regis-tered qualifications and skills programme will be the futurequalifications required.
Therefore, training providers are required to get accreditation to run with these qualifications and skills programmes.
The organisation says that this will also apply to registered assessors and moderators that will run with the learnership.
In an Aspasa technical committee meeting held on August 28 this year, the association mentioned that it had been in discussion with the South African Bitumen Association and the Cement and Concrete Institute in July this year.
Another issue raised in the meeting dealt with Aspasa exclusion clauses. According to Aspasa, becausethe committee of land transportofficials (Colto) is not functioning, and, since there is no body avail-able to change Colto’s specs, ithas left a problem for the industry. It has, therefore, developed certain exclusion clauses for its members to use when tendering for Colto projects.
Pienaar explains that many miningcompanies are experiencingdelays with the granting of mininglicences from old-order to new-order licences.
“Some of the problems we’ve faced have been delays in theissuing of the mining licences,but there have also been communication problems where companies have received little or no response regarding the status of their applications,” says Pienaar.
He adds that there are challengesaround the interpretation of thesocial aspect when submittingan application, as well as theimplementation thereof.
Apparently, different regionsinterpret the same informationdifferently and have differingopinions on social and labour plan prerequisites.
The Chamber of Mines has raised these issues as well.
In its 2006 annual report, it states that, when these issues were raised with the DME regardingthe MPRDA, no further draft bill had yet been issued or introduced into Parliament to address the Chamber’s comments.