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With the modernisation of South African mining taking shape, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI); and the Minerals Council South Africa – through the Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP), established the MMP – Organised Labour Consultative Forum. The forum was formally established at a Terms of Reference signing ceremony yesterday, 26 October 2021, at the CSIR International Convention Centre (ICC) in Pretoria.

The Terms of Reference signed today details the extent of organised labour’s involvement in the MMP, including periodic meetings allowing for contributions to the MMP’s research agenda and plans.

The MMP is a public-private partnership between the DSI and the Minerals Council, it is jointly hosted by the Minerals Council and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). It is an initiative aimed at revitalising mining research, development, and innovation in South Africa to ensure the sustainability of the industry.

The forum allows for increased participation by organised labour in the MMP’s research and development planning 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,” says MMP Director, Johan le Roux. “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. The establishment of this forum and the signing ceremony today, allows us to formalise a long standing relationship and commit to a strong focus on a sustainable and modernised mining industry for the benefit of South Africa.”

Signatories to the groundbreaking agreement include MMP Director, Johan le Roux, CSIR CEO, Dr Thulani Dlamini; and Minerals Council South Africa President, Nolitha Fakude.

Signatories from Organised Labour was represented by United Association of South Africa (UASA) Divisional Manager Mineral Resources, Franz Stehring; National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Research and Policy Development Officer, Mike Fafuli; National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), Economic Research & Policy Institute research manager, Melanie Roy; Solidarity Secretary, Gideon Du Plessis; and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), National Health and Safety Co-Ordinator, Gabriel Nkosi.

Today marks a significant milestone for the MMP. We commit ourselves to working together to a common objective, and look forward to the fruits of this partnership,” said Dr Dlamini.

“One of the core themes of DSI’s white paper is partnerships, and ensuring that research and development is relevant,” said DSI Director-General, Dr Phil Mjwara, adding that today’s momentous event serves as an important blueprint for the DSI as it engages other key sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture.

“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 will continue to provide an enabling environment for the mining industry,” he concluded in his keynote address.

We are 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,” said the President of the Minerals Council, Nolitha Fakude. “We commend the MMP for its meaningful contributions to the modernisation of the industry, and we look forward to receiving your inputs as our labour partners in terms of what we can do to ensure this modernisation journey leaves no one behind”. In a recorded message of support, NUM acting secretary-general, William Mabapa thanked the MMP for facilitating this inclusive initiative.

Thank you for the opportunity to make meaningful input into the important modernisation research agenda,” said NUMSA Economic Research and Policy Institute Research Manager, Melanie Roy. Also in a recorded message, AMCU National Chairperson Health and Safety, Xolani Bokoloshe expressed the union’s appreciation for participating in the MMP: “We are committed to provide support and work with all other stakeholders. Any innovation must bring with it local benefit”.

Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis emphasised that a smooth transition is ensured when you include all stakeholders. UASA Divisional Manager Minerals, Frans Stehring recalled previous conversations on union participation in the modernisation agenda, stating that the discussion started several years ago, before the MMP.

The SATCAP research programme is aimed at understanding the challenges, effects and impacts of mining modernisation on people in the minerals sector. Through its research agenda, the programme addresses modernisation and the impact on jobs and skills requirements. Adopting a holistic approach to its research, the SATCAP research programme emphasises thorough stakeholder engagements with, amongst others, research organisations, educational and training institutes, and organised labour.

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