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Journal President's Cornerpages

Where Has the Time Gone?

Can you believe that it is May 2015 already?

Nine times out of ten, when people of an older generation are asked this question it results in an impromptu discussion including remarks such as ’where has the time gone?’ or ’time seems to go by faster as you get older’. All of which is nonsense from Einstein’s perspective.

Occupations In High Demand In South Africa

I closed off my March President’s Corner by making the point that we are in the ’Age of Unicorns’ and that without strong math and science skills our future engineers and managers will not be adequately equipped to meet the needs and expectations of the national economy or for managing business complexity in the future.

Maturing Years

It may be a function of my ’maturing’ years but I am finding that the first two months of the calendar year are becoming much more of a challenge. One gets lulled in to a complete false sense that business and life are well under control, brought about by the shutdown of many companies over the holiday period.

Ideas and Innovations

On 30 January 2015, the Honourable Minister of Mineral Resources, Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi, issued a statement announcing the 2014 health and safety statistics for the South African mining industry. To quote, ’There has been a marked improvement in health and safety in the sector over the past twenty years, as result (sic) of renewed focus by the Department as well as collaboration with key stakeholders.’ Results over this period show an 86% reduction for all mine fatalities, thereby achieving the lowest ever number of fatalities in the mining sector in 2014.

Abundance of Health and Safety

Welcome to 2015. On behalf of all at the SAIMM may I wish our members and readers an abundance of health and safety, at work and at home, in the year that lies ahead. With the global events currently unfolding in terms of geopolitics and economic activity, 2015 is likely to be a year that will continue in much the same way as 2014. It implies that we all need to keep abreast of current affairs as what were once remote events (in time, space, and personal impact) are brought to our own doorsteps through the compressive lens of social networking and by the response of the mining industry to this very dynamic environment.

The Young Professionals Conference

In terms of the SAIMM Charter and in order to fulfill its obligations to the various communities making up the broader SAIMM membership, the Institute has established, over a long period of time, a series of portfolios and sub-committees. One of these portfolios is Career Guidance, executed through the very successful Career Guidance and Education Committee. Starting some six years ago, various initiatives were taken to develop this portfolio to focus more closely on how to encourage the younger SAIMM members to become more involved in SAIMM activities.

Family and Friends

For this President’s Corner, the Editor reminded me that this is the December edition of the Journal. For most of our members, December represents the time of year that celebrates the birth of Christ in the Christian calendar. Certainly, for many it is characterized by the opportunity to spend some quality time with family and friends in a spirit of comradeship and goodwill. Therefore, I would like to talk about two different things that this has brought to my mind.

Anomaly in our Mining Industry

As I it down to write this piece I happen to be on leave in what we South Africans generically refer to as ‘the UK’; perhaps without pausing to think on what United Kingdom actually means (the 1707 Act of Union forming Great Britain and the 1801 Act joining Great Britain and [Northern] Ireland). In one week’s time from writing there will be a referendum vote in Scotland to determine if Scotland will remain an integrated part of the United Kingdom or be instrumental in starting a process resulting in a ‘dis-United Kingdom’. It is considered certain by social commentators that should Scotland secure independence from Westminster (governance based in London) then Wales will follow shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, in other parts of Europe the Basque separatists, for example, are watching very carefully how the European Union may respond to an independent Scotland.

Mentoring and Coaching

Mentoring and coaching are two words that come up at many mining industry forums. Many mining companies have mentoring and coaching programmes. The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) encourages candidate engineers to seek out a mentor, and the SAIMM has had mentoring and coaching programmes in the past. What is a mentor? An experienced and trusted advisor is the definition. What is a coach? A private tutor is the definition. While many people will regard the two as being one and the same, they clearly are not and, more importantly, both are vital.

Beneficiation

Beneficiation is a term that has many different meanings within the mining industry and beyond. From an economic perspective, beneficiation relates to adding value to a mined raw material, or the transformation of mined ore into a higher value product that can be consumed locally or exported. In the mining industry, beneficiation is mainly used to describe metallurgical processes that are utilized to upgrade the mined raw material or ‘run-of-mine’ (ROM) ore.