The dreadful mine disaster in New Zealand is a stark reminder to us all of the risks our industry faces to feed the voracious appetite for minerals. It is, therefore, good to record the much improved 2010 South African safety statistics, which show a significant decrease in underground fatalities in our mines. Nevertheless even a single death is one too many. It is thus fitting to start the year with safety as the Journal’s theme for January, reporting on the scientific work that is broadening the understanding of safety in the Southern African mines and making new knowledge and innovation available. Ultimately the only recipe for improvement is a real partnership between labour, business and government. My hope is that the Safety Conference planned for August this year will establish a forum for a discussion in Southern Africa of how safe operations can contribute to a continual improvement in the growth and prosperity of all those communities affected by mining activity. In this spirit I welcome again the joint sponsorship of the event by the SAIMM, AMMSA and SACMA and the support
given by the DMR, Chamber of Mines, NUM, Solidarity and UASA The Union.
It can be argued that the purpose of our Institute, to exist for the needs of its members, is premised on its ability to support a flourishing mining industry in Southern Africa, although I have an ambition to eventually cover sub- Saharan Africa. The core intent of our members, the professionals working in the industry, is ultimately to establish a sustainable, responsible and equitable mining economic sector. What steps can the Institute take to facilitate such progress? The most obvious route is to participate in the development and support of scientific, engineering, mining and metallurgical skills in Southern Africa. This starts with the work of the Career Guidance Committee to inform secondary school scholars about the industry and its career potential. Each year support is given to universities through the SAIMM Scholarship Trust Fund to provide funding for infrastructure improvements in mining and metallurgical university departments. The Students Colloquium, where the best final year projects are presented, provides a forum where industry is exposed to emerging talent. The mentoring program exists for people in their early career to be able to contact an established fellow or member for advice and mentoring. The Professional Advisory Committee evaluates professional status while the intensive program of Conferences, Symposia, Colloquia and publications disseminate information and provide the opportunity for continuous and relevant education. What is really critical here is to have vibrant branches that are aware of the importance of attracting younger members who are willing to participate in order to develop themselves for the benefit of their region and the fraternity.
How can we add even more value to Africa’s mining industry? We propose to add to the extensive technical reports, papers dealing with issues of a mineral economic nature such as best utilization of natural resources, pricing of commodities, investment approaches and mineral policy in the region. In fact, a new Mineral Economics Committee will be established shortly which will participate in initiatives to provide a reference point for mining professionals, investors and policy makers. Papers such as those of Mtegha, Steyn, Cawood and Minnitt in the October 2010 Journal dealing with the potential of the thermal coal industry in South Africa and the processes used for developing mineral policies of Tanzania and Namibia as well as Rungen’s paper on compliance and reporting in the minerals industry serve as good examples of papers satisfying this area. Supporting and expanding national
investment codes such as South Africa’s Samval and Samrec codes will be encouraged in countries such as Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.
To improve access to the technical references produced over the years, an ongoing initiative is to digitise our archives and make them available through the SAIMM website. The vision is that once all SAIMM material becomes accessible, further relevant references will be added to the database. Contact with a wider world will be enhanced by strengthening our existing relationships with mining institutes in Australia, USA, Canada and the UK. Last year contact was made with the Indian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and a memorandum of understanding was signed. The SAIMM will seek to have closer relationships with the mining fraternities in Asia, the Pacific and China.
These initiatives will obviously take time and are the first steps of a long journey to ensure that the SAIMM is as relevant in twenty years time as it is now.
Finally can I thank all members for their dedicated support of the Institute and wish you all a most successful and blessed 2011!
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