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Organized labour’s inclusion in modernisation of mining lauded

The Minerals Council South Africa commends the Mandela Mining Precinct, the largest Public-Private Partnership of its kind, for ensuring that all stakeholders participate in its research and development planning for a modernised mining industry by including five unions for inputs at a strategic and policy level.

The Mandela Mining Precinct – Organised Labour Consultative (OLC) Forum has been formally established with the signing of a Terms of Reference at the CSIR ICC in Pretoria giving effect to its formation. The founding of the forum is another milestone in the Precinct’s history, one that ensures that all industry stakeholders have a say in mine modernisation.

A Public-Private Partnership between the Department of Science and Innovation and the Minerals Council and the Mandela Mining Precinct was launched in 2018 with the aim of revitalising mining research, development, and innovation in South Africa to ensure the sustainability of the industry. Like the Precinct, the Minerals Council views organised labour’s participation and input as critical to the success of this work.

“We are incredibly pleased that five trade unions (AMCU, NUM, NUMSA, Solidarity and UASA) have agreed to come onboard. This is historic in that it is the first time that organised labour, as a critical stakeholder in the modernisation journey, will actively participate in research, development and innovation (RDI) initiatives in SA,” said Sietse van der Woude, Senior Executive of Modernisation and Safety at the Minerals Council.

“Their inclusion in, and signing of the Terms of Reference, demonstrates their commitment to global competitiveness of mining not only economic metrics, but also on the very important (Environmental, Social and Governance) ESG measures through modernisation. The signing ceremony marks the commitment between all stakeholders to working towards a more sustainable mining industry that contributes positively to a better world for individuals and society at large,” said Van der Woude.

As a model for greater collaboration in an innovation ecosystem, the Precinct has already brought together industry players – from companies to original equipment manufacturers, as well as academics and academic institutions to find implementable, game-changing solutions to some of the industry’s toughest challenges. Today, it formally welcomes organised labour as a partner.

The OCL Forum will engage regularly with Mandela Mining Precinct management on current research, deliverables and future projects. The inclusion of organised labour has been long anticipated and was initiated through the South African Mining, Extraction, Research, Development and Innovation (SAMERDI) Successful Applications of Technology Centered Around People (SATCAP) Programme and goes some way towards ensuring meaningful involvement of organised labour in the modernisation agenda.

Minerals Council president Nolitha Fakude, who attended the signing ceremony said: “Organised labour is the voice for one of the largest stakeholders in mining – its 450,000 employees. It is critical to have unions meaningfully involved in the modernisation journey and it is vital that unions recognise that modernisation of mining is an imperative to extend the lives of mines, save current jobs in mining and create new opportunities in South Africa.”