SACPS coal chairman Jaco Scholtz started the evening with a brief outline of the coal sector, stating: “It has been just over a year since our last dinner and I wish I could report that our industry has recovered. Unfortunately, it hasn’t and there is little light on the horizon that it’s going to change soon. Industry conditions are extremely weak and making a return to normality, unlikely for a couple of years.”
“This is obviously bad news for coal miners and coal investors, but it is good news for buyers. The fact that coal is so cheap is the only thing keeping energy companies from using other fuel sources. It will take decades more for coal users to switch to other energy sources, and therefore its price would certainly rebound.”
Ending on an upbeat note, Scholtz announced the 2016 coal award winners – including two coal men of the year and two coal students of the year.
Coal MEN of the year
This year Scholtz announced that two winners would take home the prestigious ‘Coal man of the year’ award – the first being to Vibramech MD, David Massey.
Massey emigrated to Secunda, South Africa in 1981 from the UK and matriculated in 1984 in Evander, graduating with a BSc Mechanical Engineering degree from Wits University in 1989. He went on to attain his Masters Degree in Engineering from Wits University in 1992 in the field of Structural Dynamics.
[quote]He was employed as a lecturer at the Wits University School of Mechanical Engineering in Applied Mechanics and Engineering Design. (1990-1992) and worked briefly at the CSIR in 1992 at the Auckland Park Research facility.
From 1992 – 1996, Massey worked as a mechanical engineer at Anglo American head office’s Central Technical Unit after which he started at Vibramech in 1996 as a chief engineer. He went on to become a company director in 2001 and MD of Vibramech in 2010 which today is a very successful company specialising in screening equipment for the mining industry.
The second ‘Coal man of the year’ award went to Head of Coal Processing for the Coal Business of Anglo American, David Power.
Power graduated from University College Dublin with a degree in chemical engineering in 1982. After a number of different work experiences in Ireland he joined Anglo American in 1988 at Keinkopje colliery where he was enrolled in the Anglo American Metallurgical Graduate Training Programme and progressed to taking overall production responsibility.
He was transferred to Goedehoop colliery in 1993 as metallurgical manager. In 2001, David was transferred to Anglo Base Metals from where he was seconded back to Ireland as the metallurgical manager of the Lisheen mine (a lead/zinc operation).
In 2004, David re-joined Anglo Coal to work on the Western Coal Complex joint venture proposal between Anglo American and BHP Billiton now known as the Phola Plant. From there he undertook a number of technical roles at the Johannesburg corporate office.
Coal students of the year
Chané Espag de Klerk, currently employed as a product analyst at FNB was awarded coal student of the year together with Philane Ronnie Makwena.
Espag de Klerk completed her Master’s degree in chemical engineering (cum laude) at the North-West University at the end of 2015. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering – also at the NWU – in 2013.
Makwena has been working in the coal sector since 1998 and is currently employed with South32 in its coal division where he fulfils a number of important roles for the company.
“It is paramount that we encourage younger generations to enter the coal sector and contribute to its evolution and improvement. Automation, mechanisation and robotics will play a major role in shaping and defining future mines. Mine personnel of the future will need different skill sets and technical knowledge, which is why we need young employees with new skills and expertise to drive innovation,” Scholtz highlighted.