Speech of the Minister of Mineral Resources; Ms Susan Shabangu at the launch of the Lonmin Artisan Training College: at Marikana, 18 April 2012
18 Apr 2012Programme Director;
The MEC of the Province;
The Honourable Mayor of Madibeng, Ms Poppy Magongwa;
CEO of Lonmin, Mr Ian Farmer
Senior Management and Staff of Lonmin;
Representatives from Government Departments;
CEO of the Mining Qualifications Authority;
Good Day ladies and gentlemen.
May I start by thanking Ian and the team here at Lonmin for inviting me tothis important occasion.April is an important month in the calendar of our country. Who will forget that it was during this month, 18 years ago, that we laid the foundation for the creation of a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it?
We are in our upper teens as a democracy, and - might I suggest - doing well, despite the excitements, thrills and spills that a free and democratic society inevitably brings.We as a country are seeking unity in our diversity, are on course in a world largely of woe.
We offer an example to others on the globe, who see no hope and no freedom.We see ourselves as a generous exemplar in all this, and we are convinced that our human and physical resources, and notably our mineral resources, will help us to greater strength as the years go by.
You will recall that during the last days and months of the previous government of South Africa, before 1994, we ran campaignscalling for the establishment of a country for all the people - black and white. We issued this call in recognition of the reality that the fundamental issue of the post-1994 government would be restoring the dignity of the previously disadvantaged South Africans.Without that, our freedom and our Constitution would be meaningless.
So today is a practical demonstration of what we can achieve to ensure that particularly the youth can achieve their absolute right to dignityThe launch of the Lonmin Artisan Training College marks a firm commitment by Lonmin to ensuring that community partnerships are established for the benefit of our youth, community members and our country as a whole. The increasing involvement of mining companies in communities will go a long way towards achieving a technically skilled population.
Based on the mining and minerals sector’s scarce skills information, the industry needs engineering-focused skills. We are here to commendLonmin for coming up with training programmes that are accredited with the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) - a structure that itself is a product of the changes that were introduced by this sector after 1994.
The Mining Sector Strategy for Growth and Development identified lack of skills as one of the binding constraints to growth and development of the mining industry. Of all the key challenges faced in making this our mining sector buoyant, is that it competes so fiercely with other sectors of the economy.
Mining, mechanical and electrical engineers are absorbed by financial services companies, consultancies, or equipment service providers. To compound this, we are facing the challenge that we continuously lose our people that we have trained to countries who are mostly in the developed north. who are aggressive recruiters of skilled people. Yet we are fighting back.Strategic interventions, such as the development of the Lonmin Artisan Training College that we are launching today, are part of our arsenal to ensure that we have the necessary skills to power our mining industry.
We are facing dire challenges with regard to the low level of skills base which is negatively affecting our young people. We see the results of this challenge every day of our lives as we move around our country including just a stone throw away from this mine.
We welcomethe fact that Lonmin has extended the reach of this centre beyond the confines of their current employees to include the unemployed from the surrounding communities. This is a practical example of how Social and Labour Plan projects can contribute significantly to skills development, and fighting the evil triplets of poverty, underdevelopment and inequality in our country.
I am sure you are aware that, in recent past, mining companies in this province were subjected to several protests by communities, due in part to complaints regarding the failure by the mining industry to empower them through, among other things, job creation.
This province also experienced several high-profile industrial actions which were protracted and of real concern. Solutionsrequire sober minds and practical approaches.We all need cool heads and steady hands.In some cases, the genesis of these protests lay in failure to implement commitments and undertakings in Social and Labour Plans, and the absence of healthy and sustainable relations between mines and host communities.These communities, indeed, are so important in the scheme of things in the sector.
When Lonmin decided to take it upon itself to build their own college in 2010/2011 it was precisely because they identified a need in the community. Being a viable business in the area for close on 20 years, they needed, and wanted, to give something of real value back. This college will play a very important role as it is a partnership where the community is involved. You know, our communities like to do it for themselves! This partnership will assist with skills shortages and will provided Lonmin with the appropriate pipeline of skills . This will most definitelycontribute to the success of Lonmin, and indeed of our sector and our country.
Equally, the community will have a college “close to home,” with no need for people to go to other provinces for technical skills training.
The MQA has also played theirrole.They have found the Lonmin College sufficiently credible to deliver quality training. I encourage an ongoing partnership, one that will ensure that challenges such as budgetary constraints, are addressedto increase the intake of learners. Skills development is about quality training.
Although you have previously usedother service providers in the area, they sought accreditation to ensure that it is control of the qualitytraining -that is, “fit for purpose” for Lonmin.However, it is equally true that skills must be portable since not all the learners can be absorbed by Lonmin.Also if the training provided is of a high standard, as we expect, this will increase the absorption of unemployed individuals into the workplace. A far wider need will thus be served.
I would like to thank the management of Lonmin for this initiative. I also acknowledge the role of the MQA and other partners involved in this project. The effective management of this collegewill make a difference to the wellbeing of many in this community.I would like to encourage Lonmin to enter into partnerships with the Further Education and Training institutions that are located in this region.The skills circle must be widened, and with all due speed.
Local beneficiation of minerals remains a key policy imperative. As one of the major players in the platinum sector, I urge you to play an active role in adding value to our minerals in the country as well as assisting in the development of skills related to beneficiation.This promises to be a major contribution to the strength of our economy.
Having said that, the health and safety of employees remains of great importance to my Department. Initiatives such as thiswill go a long way in helping us to have the skills improve the safety and the health aspect of hard rock industry Hence I am encouraged by the improvement in the safety performance of Lonmin- for you have not had a fatality since the beginning of this year. That is the zero harm we all should seek to achieve. It is possible.
I would like to commend management and employees on this achievement, and I expect that Lonmin will sustain this splendidperformance, as we cannot afford to be complacent.
I am confident that the efforts of Lonmin and the partners here today will go a long way in ensuring that we heed the words of the late President General of the ANC, OR Tambo, who once said that a nation that does not take care of its youth does not deserve its future.
In this spirit, I should like again to express my appreciation to you for having me along here to share thoughts with you in this promising environment.
I thank you!
Issued by: Department of Mineral Resources
18 Apr 2012
[ Top ]