North West Province Technical Suppliers Day - Post Event Report
MEMSA and member HPS hosted the first in a series of country mining supply chain development days on Thursday in Potchefstroom. The day included an introduction to clustering, and unpacked the value of cooperation and collaboration in the growth and stability of the NW Provinces mining equipment ecosystem.
The NW Province represents a substantial portion of the mining minerals in the country and the strategic importance of the Klerksdorp - Potchefstroom Corridor has been recognised since the 1800s - although Klerksdorp is older, Potchefstroom was the first town to be developed north of the Vaal River.
Despite the rich mineral offering of the region there are challenges affecting the regions growth and prosperity. The heavy reliance on the mines as the primary source of employment being at the fore. 'Life of mine' and sustainability then become critical to the very survival of the province. Jan Harm Badenhorst of the NWU spoke to the audience about the need to enhance mine efficiencies through skills training and how collaboration between industry and academia can promote continued technology advancement and innovation.
NWU are underway to create a Mining School in Rustenburg - unlike many other training institutions this will combine practical and hands-on training with academic learning. There is also a programme to identify and funnel students for the mining industry.
In order to flourish the NW needs also to look 'beyond the mines', to the manufacture of products and services within the mining value chain and the re-skilling of the people in the region.
This was reiterated by Mr. Davis Sadike, Project Executive at the North West Development Corporation who spoke of the Bojanala SEZ - and how mines are increasingly driving local sourcing in an effort to uplift the immediate areas around the mines and diversify employment and skills - as well as curb urban migration.
This all to often comes at a cost to the mines as under-capitalised and inexperienced vendors vie for business. Ms. Mpopi Khupe of Zevoli Business Partners has developed a business based on this very challenge - working closely with SME's she recognises that not all small business needs are the same and each is at a different level in their maturity. Zevoli assists SMEs manage their risks, and run their businesses efficiently - overlaying technical business support with business skills.
South Africa is in a unique position, as we hold the IP, technology and infrastructure to conduct wide-spread manufacture, and this sets us apart from the rest of the African continent.
We must ensure we do not fall behind the rest of the world in innovation and technology development - industry collaboration - working closely with the mines is the best way to ensure technology relevance and appropriate product solutions for the mines.
MEMSA CEO Mr. Lehlohonolo Molloyi and Test Mine Steering Committee Member shared with the audience a presentation on the Mandela Mining Precinct Test Mine, a facility located at Royal Bafokeng Platinum, Maseve Mine aimed at providing an infrastructure where new technologies and equipment could be tested in a dedicated real-life environment.
There is no substitute for the knowledge gained from being 'on the ground', and we can draw on the experience of members, and colleagues on the mines in open and practical sharing of information.
Existing mining supply chains tend to lock out new role players, the de-mystify of the industry needs to happen if we hope for greater supplier diversity. Cornell van der Merwe - Mine Manager at Harmony Moab Khotsong admits that mining has traditionally been very slow to change, this is however changing with 4IR. It is not attractive to the mines for new entrants to try replace an existing and trusted supplier by offering the exact same product - the mines would like to see new technologies. With increasing focus on life-of-mines, safety, ESG and efficiency - miners are looking to the industry to provide solutions so they can focus on their core business of mining. Memsa wants to walk the path with the mines - programmes such as TARA could provide the platform for mines to source new technologies. Harmony have large-scale investment planned for the NW Province and are looking for innovative technologies to create new opportunities for the mines - mine water storage and redistribution, CPS and AI camera technology, drone scanning are just a few of the solutions they are exploring. The new DMRE regulations on conveyor monitoring opens opportunities for intelligent fibre to use collect data on heat and acoustics to better understand efficiency, wear and avoid dreaded down-time.
New technologies also mean that previously mothballed mines can now be reopened and sustainable mined.
R&D and innovation costs money and historically the IDC would not consider SMEs as the values were simply too low and the due diligence too onerous. However IDC have recently launched a new product SME Connect says Mr. Lesibana Ramaoka - Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) - Senior Dealmaker: Small Business Finance - This will take the form of a 3-layered funding program incorporating 1) Facilitating market access for small industrial businesses 2) Access to appropriate and timely finance 3) Focused business and technical support. This will be done on a partnership principle of co-creation, shared value and leveraged support - the idea is to create a fund for a particular mine to assist the mine to adopt SME suppliers particularly to fulfill their ESG requirements.
Closing comments; Marius van Heerden - Engineering Manager at Harmony Moab Khotsong Mine reiterated that we all have a role to play, and where we can influence the success of the sector we need to.
Itumeleng Matlhakoane - Contracts Administrator at Moab Khotsong- the maturity of organised labour on the mines plays a factor when introducing new suppliers - have the unions on-board when you design a products - be prepared to think out of the box.
Maarten Van Jaarsveld – Managing Director, Hydropower Systems - supplying the mines is not a get rich quick scheme - be sincere and be honest - never quit.
Following a lovely lunch provided by Potchefstroom Country Club participants were invited to stay for 9-holes of golf to continue the spirit of networking.