The storm in the mining sector has been brewing for some time. When commodity prices were booming, most mining houses put off plans to innovate and streamline, enjoying the blue sky opportunities and reaping the rewards of the market peak. Then, when the clouds gathered and prices plunged, innovation was again put on the back burner as keeping the lights on – let alone making a profit – became the number one priority.
The clouds are now growing increasingly darker as government regulations add pressure on mining houses to not only make profit but to ensure job sustainability in the sector and, at a greater level, drive transformation.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, just yet. The current climate highlights that the more constraints the environment presents, the more mining houses need to optimise the remaining variables – and technology is the key to achieving this.
Disrupting the mining industry
We desperately need to see an “Uberisation” of the mining sector in South Africa. This involves a collective drive toward the combination of technological advancements and big data that made ride-sharing company, Uber, so successful and revolutionary.
While Uber and the mining sector may not be immediately comparable in our national conscious yet, there is nothing stopping the latter from taking inspiration from how the former disrupted business as usual in its industry.
Uber’s software changed the way people across the world move, with the power to catch a taxi almost anywhere, at any time and at the touch of a screen. Most importantly, though, it is powered by big data. In just one example, the company’s “surge pricing” approach uses predictive modelling of all drivers and customers at any time to adjust its price structures to meet supply and demand constraints.
In the same way, big data has also made it possible for Uber to efficiently match drivers and clients, reducing waiting time and increasing car utilisation, real-time information can empower decision makers at mines.
The mining sector needs the same technological revolution and it needs it urgently. We’ve already seen advancements to mining equipment in the form of automated machines that test the levels of harmful gasses following a blast and in wearables that monitor the vital statistics of mine employees.
While these types of innovation are crucial, mines need to take the next step and monitor as many variables as possible in order to be able to accurately predict what is coming. For example, a system of monitors across a mine’s fleet would provide enough data for predictive modelling that would indicate when each machine or vehicle would need maintenance, providing enough planning time, avoiding downtimes and ensuring continuous operations.
However, this is not only about the improvement of mining processes. The technological revolution in mining is also about the improving the level of skills. Will there be resistance to technology in the mining sector due to the perception that it will result in job losses? Yes. For centuries there has been a fear that innovation equals job cuts, yet history has taught us time and time again that, in fact, this is not the case. The Luddite fallacy, the economic observation that new technology does not destroy jobs but rather changes the nature of work for the better, comes to mind.
We have already seen how advanced sensors provide live information and rather than replacing operators, this technology is actually training and empowering them to make better decisions.
To overcome the mindset that technology will endanger jobs, there needs to be a shift in this perception by government, mining houses, labour and the public in general through the use of data and studies to show that technology can actually lead to more jobs, greater skills transfer and more importantly upskilling of people with portable skills.
It is technology, not subsidies, that will add value to the mining sector in South Africa. This industry needs to compete globally and subsidies are not a sustainable method to encourage healthy competition. An increase in productivity is what can make a real difference to boosting our activities in the global market, but we need the technology in order to be ready to do so.
The time for the revolution is now. What the mining sector needs is enlightened companies that recognise that technology and innovation are the best ways of surviving the stormy situation they are facing, which will only entrench their positions as market leaders when the commodity cycle turns.
Kick-start you career with a Shoprite Bursary programme.
If you are looking for a lifetime career where you can grow and learn about a diverse range of inspirational brands, if you would like to be part of a unique company that offers brilliant opportunities and has a passion for its staff and customers… then come and EXPLORE the opportunities at the Shoprite Group and discover how you can BE MORE!
Thousands of the 455 753 matric learners qualifying for admission to tertiary institutions this year are in dire need of financial support in order to access one of the various post-school system opportunities available to them. Prospective students can look to the Shoprite Group, who still has approximately R8 million available for financial assistance from their extensive bursary programme.
Bursaries are awarded for scarce skills programmes such as Pharmacy and Chartered Accounting, along with qualifications such as Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Information Technology, Industrial Engineering, Hospitality, Retail Business Management and Marketing.
With limited space available at tertiary institutions, prospective students who achieved an average of more than 70% in matric, are urged to apply for one of the remaining bursaries by applying online or contacting their training institution’s bursary office for assistance.
Candidates may qualify for a bursary of up to R70 000 per annum which allows for registration fees, tuition, textbook and accommodation fees depending on the course of study and institution. Each bursary granted is linked to a work back agreement with Shoprite and in this way a bursary holder is assured of career prospects with South Africa’s largest private sector employer.
The Potato Industry Development Trust, through Potatoes South Africa, provides bursaries to diploma, undergraduate and post graduate students studying agriculture at a tertiary institution in South Africa. The primary goals for providing these bursaries are as follows:
Diploma and undergraduate studies
To provide talented young students the opportunity to develop their skills and thereby enhance the
technical capacity of these enterprises.
To provide other deserving students who wish to enter the agricultural industry the opportunity to
obtain an appropriate qualification and develop technical skills to find employment in the industry.
To make a contribution towards ensuring that well qualified scientists are developed to address the research needs of the potato industry.
To increase the potato industry’s pool of knowledge.
Who can apply?
Diploma and undergraduate studies
Second year students in the field of agriculture.
Students with excellent academic standing.
South African citizens.
Must provide official proof of registration at a South African tertiary institution.
Honours, Masters and PhD students in the field of agriculture – potatoes. (Masters and PhD students to submit a potato related research proposal.)
Must have excellent academic standing.
South African citizens.
Proof of registration at an appropriate South African university
Conditions of the bursary After completion of the studies the student must work for a potato industry related company, organisation or institution in the Republic of South Africa as approved by the Potato Industry Development Trust equivalent to the period of the bursary.
Opportunities All students are given the opportunities to get to know the potato industry through an annual induction programme that takes place in April. The program includes visits to a fresh produce market, a potato farm, a processing plant and research facilities. Diploma and undergraduate students will be given the opportunity to enhance their skills through an internship (for disciplines requiring practical training and exposure as part of their qualification condition) and a workplace experience program to enhance their employment opportunities.
Postgraduate Application Form Download form: www.potatoes.co.za/SiteResources/documents/Postgrad%20Bursary%20Application%202014.pdf
Undergraduate Application Form Download form: www.potatoes.co.za/SiteResources/documents/Undergrad%20Bursary%20Application%202014.pdf
Eskom Fet College Bursaries
Closing Date: 31 July 2015
|Further Education & Training (FET)|
Individuals legible to apply must meet the following requirements:-
- Applicants must be South African citizens with a valid ID number
- National Senior Certificate or equivalent
- Written proof of acceptance for admission by higher education institution
- Applicants must be for full time studies at an accredited South African institution
- Applicants must be willing to undergo an interview and medical examination or health declaration
Students to study at the University
Read more at Tolajob
Bursaries In Chemical Engineering
Bursaries are awarded to successful candidates to complete a degree in Engineering (Chemical, Mechanical, Electrical or Industrial). These students will ‘work back’ their bursaries for a period equal to the period of their studies.
Bursaries are awarded to successful candidates for the following course of study:
- BEng/BSc Chemical Engineering
- BEng/BSc Electrical Engineering
- BEng/BSc Industrial Engineering
- BEng/BSc Mechanical Engineering
If you are interested in Workplace Experience opportunities such as In-service training, Internships or Work Integrated Learning or applying for a bursary read more here
Mintek’s Undergraduate and Postgraduate Bursaries Program in South Africa
Deadline: July 31, 2015
Mintek is offering undergraduate and postgraduate bursary programme for South African students. Mintek’s Undergraduate Bursary Programme ensures a steady supply of trained and highly skilled technical people for Mintek to meet a major portion of company’s operational, research and development manpower needs, and also to provide appropriately-skilled graduates to the broader South African minerals and metallurgy sector, as per Mintek’s Mission Statement. The closing date for undergraduate applications is 31 July 2015. There is no closing date to submit applications to Mintek’s Postgraduate Bursary Programme (for Masters Studies and above).
Mintek’s Postgraduate Bursary Programme further equips undergraduates through the development of research methodology skills at the Masters level, followed by the generation of original research that contributes new knowledge to a field at the Doctorate level. Bursaries cover the full payment of registration, tuition and residence fees, plus an allowance with a commitment to work at Mintek on a month-for-month basis. Bursars are also given the opportunity to work closely with experts in their field of interest as well as in other disciplines.
Read more here
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By Alan Hilburg
What’s missing from the conversation about the impact of direct foreign investment in South Africa today?
Government leaders, CEOs, economists, and the media obsess about the bottom-line investment figures committed, rather than the single most important asset in the equation. People.
People make investments happen. People, not plans, deliver results.
If you don’t invest in the people of South Africa at the same time one invests in South Africa it’s likely that you won’t contribute to ending the inequalities that keep South Africans from having the opportunity to succeed. Companies that don’t invest in people are repeating the 300 year old tradition of being takers, not givers.
All relationships to achieve trust must have balance and equilibrium. As a result, investments can’t just be extractive, they must also be contributive.
I, like everyone who invests in South Africa, are in South Africa not by chance…but by choice.
With the decision to be here comes a responsibility to end the one way history of first world foreigners in this country. For us at HilburgAssociates, we are trying to build more than an African advisory business for companies whose brand and reputation are being threatened, we want to help build bridges between individuals and institutions that share a common commitment to develop opportunities for South Africans.
Our clients’ challenge is building a culture of trusted relationships in a society that is experiencing a crisis in distrust. This contributes to many of South Africa’s woes. And, while the hostile labour relations climate, and erosion in business confidence, gives many a foreign investor reason to hit the pause button, I believe this is a good moment to press the ‘play’ button and reveal the leadership necessary to guide South Africa to achieve its unique potential.
During the past few months, the opportunity of being in South Africa has extended to the privilege of getting to know some truly incredible people that share my desire to satiate the hunger in South African townships and suburbs for the chance to learn critical thinking skills as well as practical business and vocational skills.
Coca Cola’s initiative to develop people’s business skills in the township economy seems like a great example of responsible corporate citizenry and a business sustainability strategy. Recently I met Coca Cola’s Southern Africa Marketing Director, Sharon Keith. She is a homegrown executive that had benefited from the company’s deep investment in its people and South Africa. With posts in Atlanta HQ, Dublin and professional development experiences in other emerging markets she explained how one of South Africa’s most admired employers train and develop more than 56,000 direct and indirect employees across the Coca Cola system in South Africa—who in turn support approximately 500,000 dependents.
The Coca Cola program to teach informal vendors and spaza shop owners about cash flow management, inventory control, and other skills to run their businesses more successfully is another great example of the multiplier effect of investing in people. It’s good for the community, the country, and the company’s bottomline.
Foreign investors have a vital role to play in the development of scarce technical skills in South Africa as well. Samsung is a powerful example of a pragmatic and progressive solution when confronted with a dire shortage of engineers and technicians to staff their manufacturing and service facilities. The Samsung Engineering Academy is a public-private partnership to reboot vocational training in this country. Samsung professionals help to ensure that the education and training experience is relevant to industry needs.
Another example is Unilever, the fast-moving consumer goods multinational. Employing more than 3,000 South Africans, Unilever’s number one goal is not just to make money. It’s ensuring that the communities where Unilever does business are better off for the fact that Unilever is there. To achieve that, Unilever models ‘best practices’ in its employee engagement strategies. They invest heavily in its South African employees to make certain they create a bright future for them and their communities. The company has, for a second year running, been certified as the Number One Top Employer to work for in South Africa by the Top Employer Institute.This accolade was given to Unilever in part because of their highly regarded graduate programme that offers a world class leadership development curriculum offering international careers and mentorship programmes to South Africans.
In closing, I am reminded of a very thoughtful, well-moderated panel at GIBS about rebranding South Africa. It was there trying to answer my favorite two word question, “what’s missing?” that I proposed that South Africa should simply not accept foreign investment that doesn’t invest in its people.
The thesis was simple, South Africa’s brand promise should become ” South Africa…Success2 ”
When a foreign company invests in South Africans, as well as South Africa…everyone wins.
Book your seat here.
Join the discussion here.
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