On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X
J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.109 n.3 Johannesburg Mar. 2009
The challenge of building local capacity to support the development of a sustainable mining industry in emerging mining nations
African Mining and Trust Company Limited. Formerly: School of Mining Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Mining companies are increasingly looking to the developing world for the next generation of mining projects, often in countries that have little or no previous history of large-scale mining. One of the major challenges for such projects is hiring-and retaining-personnel that have technical skills and experience in iningrelated disciplines.
Staffing a mine with an expatriate workforce is neither costeffective nor sustainable, and many countries now insist that mining companies 'transform' the profile of their workforce to more closely mirror the demographic profile of the host population. The need to nurture mining-related skills in emerging mining nations is not solely limited to the workforce: there are also pressing economic and sustainability imperatives to develop capacity within local service providers such as consultants and contractors, as well as to facilitate informed engagement between mining companies, government and civil society.
However, few educational institutions in emerging mining nations currently have the ability to offer practical training in mining-related disciplines. Local employees who are sponsored by companies to develop their skills through international study may be impeded by language and cultural barriers, and may also be taught using course content that is of limited relevance to the specific challenges of their future working environment.
This paper addresses the challenge of skills development and retention in emerging mining nations and uses examples from sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia Pacific region to explore practical means of developing capacity in mining-related disciplines. It examines the need for companies to implement strategies to develop local technical capacity in countries where they envisage a longterm operational future and also highlights the need to foster partnerships between academia, developmental institutions, mining companies, governments and civil society to establish the critical mass of mining-related skills required to nurture the development of a sustainable mining industry.
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