The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), industry and trade unions have established a new forum that will see labour participate actively in mining research in the country.

The DSI and the Minerals Council South Africa – through the Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP) – established the MMP-Organised Labour Consultative Forum in Pretoria on Tuesday, with the signing of the terms of reference for the forum.

The MMP is a public-private partnership between the DSI and the Minerals Council South Africa, a mining-industry employer organisation.

Hosted jointly by the Minerals Council and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the MMP seeks to revitalise mining research, development and innovation in South Africa to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

“At the signing ceremony, labour organisations welcomed the new initiative and expressed their commitment to inclusivity in the mining industry,” a joint statement read.

The organisations include the United Association of South Africa (UASA), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), Solidarity and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

The terms of reference detail the extent of organised labour’s involvement in and contribution to the MMP’s research and development agenda, and plans for a modernised and mechanised mining industry.

“The MMP’s engagements with organised labour are viewed as critical to the success of our research work and technological development.

“Through the Successful Application of Technologies Centred Around People (SATCAP) research programme, organised labour has been continuously consulted on various developments, such as the Isidingo Drill prototypes,” said MMP Director, Johan le Roux.

The establishment of the forum, according to the DSI, has formalised a long-standing relationship and commitment to a strong focus on a sustainable and modernised mining industry for the benefit of South Africa.

The SATCAP research programme aims to understand the challenges, effects and impacts of mining modernisation on people in the minerals sector.

CSIR CEO, Dr Thulani Dlamini, described the MMP as a significant milestone.

“We commit ourselves to work together towards a common objective, and look forward to the fruits of this partnership,” he said.

DSI Director-General, Dr Phil Mjwara, said the new initiative served as an important blueprint.

“The modernisation of mining will result in a substantial change in the skills required by mine employees. My message to the Minerals Council is for us to work together to develop the skills plan in anticipation of the modernisation of the mining industry. We are committed and we will continue to provide an enabling environment for the mining industry,” said Mjwara.

Minerals Council President, Nolitha Fakude, said the association was encouraged by the progress being made in research and innovation.

“We welcome organised labour as a partner to this initiative. They are critical in playing a meaningful role in the modernisation journey.”

Source: South African Government News Agency

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