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DMR meddles in mining skills and jobs

The DMR is placing bursary holders, interns and students at universities and in mining jobs for training in critical mining skills.

South African Mineral Resources (DMR) minister Adv Ngoako Ramatlhodi cited a “demand for skills in mining locally and globally” and a “critical need to expand the pool of skills,” at the Mining Indaba in Johannesburg in October 2014.

The SA Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) “will develop the skills of young people and mineworkers” in line with emerging labour needs. Loss of mining jobs is one of government’s major political concerns.

“Mineworkers are the bedrock of this industry. Decent working and living conditions should thus be non-negotiable. The overarching objective of the summit will be to review the current state of health and safety in the mining industry and to decide on new targets to improve health and safety of mineworkers,” mining minister Ramatlhodi said.

Another state department, the Department of Labour (DOL), is also meddling directly in the skills market by enforcing BEE laws in other industries.

The DOL is regaining some of the former learnership functions that were transferred to the Department of Higher Education, and forcing employers to report vacancies to the DOL’s job agency.

Health and safety jobs targeted

Health and safety jobs in all industries are among the positions targeted for transformation. An institute for black health and safety consultants and trainers was announced at the venue where the DOL launched the Construction Regulations and SACPCMP registration last year.

Mining minister Ramatlhodi said the DMR was ‘enhancing collaboration’ with the Department of Higher Education and Training and other stakeholders through the Mining Qualifications Authority to improve skills development of the youth and mineworkers.

At the mining indaba (conference) on investing in mining and resources, he urged the industry to invest in young people and mineworkers, to face opportunities and challenges in the future.

Minister Ramatlhodi said government will “continue to prioritise opportunities and encourage investment to grow the economy to deal with inequality, poverty and unemployment.

“We have noted with some concern developments in the industry, where mining companies come to the department as a last resort before making major announcements on disinvestments or expansion of their companies, which has the potential to impact on the economy.

Sustained improvement in the labour relations environment was critical for sustaining South Africa’s reputation as a key investment destination for mining.

“These are not helpful, and go against the spirit of open and transparent engagement,” he said. The recent period of prolonged labour relations unrest, marked by the Marikana disaster, had an adverse impact on the country’s economy.

According to Statistics SA, there was a dip in gross domestic product (GDP) that was attributed to the strike and a dip in productivity.

“In the first quarter, sales of total minerals declined by 24.7%. This had narrowed to a 9.4% contraction in the second quarter,” said mining minister Ramatlhodi.

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