Skill levels in the coal sector need a boost if South Africa is going to make the best use of the smaller coal deposits remaining after larger, Eskom-tied collieries in the Witbank Central Basin reach the end of their productive lives.
Lesley Jeffrey, principal coal geologist at SRK Consulting (SA), argues that it may even be time to reinstate a ‘Coal School’, with obligatory participation of all levels in the workforce. Jeffrey says smaller companies are vital to the future of the sector, but warns that many suffer from a lack of technical expertise because of their size and their inability to attract sufficient capital.
Principal coal mining engineer Noddy McGeorge emphasises the need to improve productivity through higher skill levels and multi-skilling. McGeorge says smaller players need to prove they can access the funding required for sustainable operation and the right business model with Eskom.
SRK provides expert technical support for small and large coal miners alike, with an experienced team of specialists including senior mining engineer Xolani Gumede (far left), senior geologist Sello Nzama (second left), Lesley Jeffrey (centre), coal geologist Mbali Xulu (second right) and Noddy McGeorge (right).
With almost 90 years of experience between them, the SRK Coal Group has provided services all over Africa and abroad, from geological assessments and ore body modelling to resource-reserve estimations, feasibility studies and operational audits.