Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: A mining school is being opened in the Northern Cape to meet growing demand for mining skills in the province.
Creamer: Yes, the Northern Cape is the next big economic area for mining. People realise every day that there are greater mining horizons there. The Northern Cape is almost like Western Australia was 30 years ago in that mines are being developed across a broad front. There is so much copper being found there, there is so much mineral and metal potential, and the province has realised that it needs mining skills, so a school of mining is being created and this followed a panel discussion in which the Department of Mineral Energy and Resources was involved, along with private sector mining companies.
The developers of the school of mining want to model it on the Camborne School of Mines, which was established in Cornwall, in the UK, in 1888. Interestingly, it was Cornwall that supplied South Africa with miners in the late 1800s and early 1900s. South Africans didn't want to work in mines at that stage, so Cornish miners were brought in and they did the early mining. Now, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Copper 360 copper mining company is saying that, in the Northern Cape, they won’t at this stage be graduating people with diplomas and degrees in mining, which is already done well by other institutions. But what they will do is encourage young people coming out of grade 12 to join their school of mining . In the next four weeks, Copper 360 will open the school of mining that will bridge the gap between grade 12 and the diplomas and degrees. They want to certificate young people, absorb some themselves, and certificated miners to be free to join other mining companies in the area as well. They are hoping to attract more funding than what they are providing themselves so that everybody can benefit from a school of mining in the Northern Cape.
Kamwendo: The Industrial Development Corporation has expressed interest in the revival of the West Wits gold area.
Creamer: Just 30 minutes west of where I'm sitting here in Johannesburg is a new mining development. When I say new, the Witwatersrand is a very old gold-mining area, so people go into where mining took place in days gone by and they do new drilling and they find new opportunities. But again, it is not South Africans funding this, but Australians. South Africans don't seem to have a mentality for smaller mines. We want the big Rolls Royce mines, while others people don't mind developing Volkswagen mines.
They go in there, they develop, they find very good grades of gold, and they look for finance. The initial finance has been raised in Sydney, but also our Industrial Development Corporation, the State-owned IDC, sees potential there and is looking to bring in debt of R300-million and become part of this West Wits gold revival. It is very important that South Africans become part of this revival because we need to get a grip on the 6 000 disused mines in South Africa. I mean, we if these disused mines was in another country, they wouldn't be mined by illegal miners, but by legal miners, who would be working with new mining licences, and that’s what we should be doing here.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.