Friday 1 March 2024

Developing mining skills to meet growing needs

The mining industry has traditionally been a key driver of the South African economy, and despite the growth of other industries, mining continues to contribute considerably to economic productivity and the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Notwithstanding South Africa's immense natural resources, the country's continued expansion is hampered by a number of challenges in the mining industry, mostly that of a lack of skills.  

Prof Ronny Webber-Youngman, Head of the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of Pretoria, says that a new approach to leadership is required. While machines will undertake the linear labour in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the function of people on a mine will never be obsolete; instead, their responsibilities will evolve, necessitating the acquisition of new skills.

To that end, the Department collaborated with Enterprises University of Pretoria (Enterprises UP) to develop a series of programmes and short courses, such as the Leadership Development Programme, and short courses in Blasting Engineering, Risk Management, and Technical and Operational Surface Mining, in order to ensure that mining professionals are prepared for the future of work, and are able to adapt and consistently gain new skills.
4.0DTM Leadership Development
Over the last three years, almost 700 delegates have attended the two-day 4.0DTM Leadership Development short course, which explores leadership traits using a four-dimensional prism model. Its goal is to prepare leaders for the challenges that will be brought about by the 4IR, also known as Industry 4.0. 

"Technology does not drive leadership; rather, leaders lead technology," Dr Uys continues. One of the primary things we investigated was people's acceptance of technology. We also researched the leadership skills required for the 4IR, and it appears that the model correlates incredibly well with the identified skills. These skills include emotional intelligence (EQ), complex problem solving, negotiations, complexity and inductive reasoning; skills that will lead to the development of technology."

Programme in Blasting Engineering
During the past nine years, the Blasting Engineering Programme was delivered to over 600 delegates. This course covers the fundamentals of all surface and underground mine drilling and blasting operations. Real-world circumstances are used to improve the application of drill and blast design and execution in the mining sector. 

"The industry’s response has been really positive. The delegates we train are much more confident after participating in this programme. They can engage with their clients about drilling and blasting challenges," said Mr Wolter de Graaf, course leader.

"We have discovered that when technology advances, we must train our employees to adapt." We make extensive use of virtual reality and interaction throughout the course/programme. The high-quality, realistic visuals create an engaging user experience for a wide range of real-world applications."

Programme in Technical and Operational Surface Mining Excellence
"We recognised a need in the market for technical surface mining training because no other courses teach new mining graduates and professionals about the technical aspects of surface mining,” Henk Fourie, course leader for the programme explained. 

The Programme for Technical and Operational Surface Mining Excellence was developed in 2018 and launched in 2019.It provides delegates with the technical skills they need to become successful and value driven. All aspects of mineral resource management are addressed, as well as the selection, productivity and maintenance of heavy mining equipment. 

"At first, we had graduates and individuals with mining engineering knowledge, but over the last three years we have received people from many walks of life, primarily because it is the only programme of its kind in South Africa that uses technical knowledge for surface mines on a relatively senior level," said Johan Hager, course leader.  

Course for Managers in Risk Management
The short courses that make up the Course for Managers in Risk Management (c-MiRM) are designed to provide a systematic approach to establishing and maintaining a multi-dimensional risk management framework with well-defined principles and methods. The courses synchronise risk management procedures in present and future implementations of International Standards such as ISO 31010:2019 (Risk Management Techniques) and ISO 45001:2018 using the concepts and framework of ISO 31000:2018. (Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems).
According to Albert van der Vyver, course leader, the Department of Mining Engineering has been providing a risk management curriculum to the industry for about ten years in collaboration with Enterprises UP. It was taken to the next level when Enterprises UP was tasked with assisting with the development of a formal risk management system in Turkey in the aftermath of a massive subterranean explosion that killed 310 people.

"It was time to put practical ideas into action, and the c-MiRM model was developed spontaneously. It worked successfully, implying that the course might offer a solid platform for long-term mortality reduction in the mining sector."

If you are interested in registering, enquiring or requesting quotations for individual or corporate training options of courses, kindly contact our Executive Team:

Enterprises University of Pretoria offers solutions-driven research and training services. If you wish to be provided with more information, please contact +27 (0)12 434 2500 or visit


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