Improve mining skills base, says Oliphant

Pretoria – Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Oliphant, has urged the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) to continue to pursue the targets of skills and capacity building for the sector as set out in the revised Mining Charter.

“The paucity of skills is one of the binding constraints that we have identified in our mining sector strategy that we have agreed to as the mining industry. Accordingly, the MQA has to work with its stakeholders to put together comprehensive skills programmes to benefit this sector,” said Oliphant.

The Mining Charter also includes adhering to employment equity principles when selecting learners and individuals for employment.

Oliphant, who was addressing the Annual Consultative Conference on Friday, commended the MQA for focusing on grassroots activities like Adult Basic Education and Training, career development initiatives, bursaries, workplace coaching programme and development of black managers in the mining sector.

“I am encouraged by the research that is currently being done focusing on workplace skills plans and annual training reports. I encourage employers in the sector to work with labour actively to undertake and build on this crucial area of skills development,” he said.

On health and safety in mines, Oliphant said even though there had been a steady decline in the actual fatalities in the country’s mines, the department remained concerned about the continued loss of life and slow progress in dealing with cases of TB, silicosis as well as noise induced hearing problems.

He highlighted the need for young people to choose careers in the sector of mine health and safety as inspectors and legal practitioners who will help government in prosecutions and investigations.

“MQA has a major role to play in reversing the trend where we struggle to recruit, let alone retain our skills base in the inspectorate of health and safety. It seems to me that the MQA cannot be content with business as usual, run-of-mill recruitment,” Oliphant said.

He challenged the authority to think outside the box and ensure that they implement the targets set out in their strategic plans.

He commended the MQA for their role in implementing Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) training for the sector and also for the partnerships established with organisations such as the Mine Health and Safety Council, as well as partnerships they have embarked on for the next five years with OHS representatives and shop stewards to improve health and safety.

He further challenged the MQA to improve the participation of black women in the mining sector, pointing out that white women have been some of the major beneficiaries of the new mining dispensation.

“We can no longer hide behind the fact that there are neither black managers nor female personnel for all level positions… we need to find the skills.” – BuaNews

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