By – SAnews.gov.za
Pretoria – South Africa’s mining industry has plenty of opportunities that young people from diverse backgrounds and educational qualifications can access.
The Deputy Director General of Mineral Regulation, Joel Raphela, at the Department of Mineral Resources on Tuesday said government supports youth upliftment programmes aimed at improving young people’s participation in mining.
“We continue to reach the youth through the departmental Learner Week Programmes, where we create mining awareness by organising mine visits around the country.
“We also provide learnerships and internships to learners and graduates as part of bridging the work experience gap needed in the employment market,” said Raphela at the Youth in Mining Summit held in Johannesburg.
The summit comes as South Africa commemorates the 40th anniversary of June 16. The entire month is used to focus on matters of youth development.
Delegates at the summit on Tuesday included youth formations, captains of industry and young entrepreneurs. Raphela said there are numerous opportunities young people can tap into through the department’s state entity Mintek, a research and development organisation specialising in all aspects of mineral processing, extractive metallurgy and related technology.
Mintek has been helping young people, who may not have higher education qualifications, find sustainable mechanisms of generating income while also creating jobs for others in jewellery making, glass bead manufacturing and pottery.
“Urban mining presents numerous opportunities for young people to use urban waste to manufacture saleable products, without necessarily having a higher education qualification. The glass bead manufacturing process is a great example of this.
“Mintek provides training in the crushing of glass bottle waste using particular techniques and turning the crushed glass into beads that are then used to make products such as household decoration items and costume jewellery,” said Raphela.
Mintek has further assisted the provincial government of the Northern Cape by setting up two training and beneficiation centres in Upington and Prieska, which provide practical training for making jewellery from semi-precious stones – especially the tiger’s eye that is mined in the province.
Participants are also assisted to develop skills for grading semi-precious gemstones using simple techniques that are easily acquired, so that they can manufacture products that are of good quality for the market.
Last year, Mintek provided practical training to 148 students, in partnership with the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) and the Department of Science and Technology. Thirty-six of these students have been placed in numerous foundries across the country, where they gain practical skills for melting metals and casting them into aluminium or cast iron products.
The Department has also recently appointed 38 learner inspectors after they successfully completed a two-year training programme. Forty-two percent of the inspectors are women.
This programme was initiated by the department, in collaboration with the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA), Sibanye Gold and AngloGold Ashanti.
Unemployed graduates were recruited from previously disadvantaged groups and given practical experience in the field of occupational hygiene, surveying, mining, electrical and mechanical engineering.
In 2015, during the inaugural Diamond Indaba organised by the State Diamond Trader (SDT), the South African Young Diamond Beneficiators Guild was launched.
The guild is a collective of predominantly black-owned South African small and emerging diamond manufacturers. These manufacturers primarily focus on the cutting and polishing of rough diamonds.
In addition, 25 young South Africans are undergoing a two-year training programme in Italy, which will boost the country’s cutting and polishing industries. As part of the initiative, the students will be enrolled in the watchmaker programme in Switzerland to further their learning and exposure in watchmaking.
A curriculum to teach watchmaking in South Africa is currently being developed, and once approved, would see this special skill being taught for the first time at South African institutions.
Raphela said all these initiatives are necessary as the “economic empowerment of young people is not an option but a national imperative”.