Modern Mining October 2021


employees over the next five years. As major mining organ- isations think about their strategy and transformation journey from a digital and mining operations automa- tion perspective, it is critical to understand, identify and start developing skills to support and undertake this transfor- mation. The report identifies some of these roles, skills and competencies. “In order to prepare the workforce for future roles and to upskill employees with the skills and competencies they need to stay relevant, upskilling and learning and development within mines needs t o be c a r e f u l l y rethought with rapid technol- ogy adoption in mind. Mining companies have a unique opportunity to manage digi-

to generate economic growth and employment opportunities for all. There is need to skill and reskill employees for this transition. The just transition concept has put a lot of focus on the plight of communities in the coal mining areas. In a country with record unemployment and where the socio-economic challenges probably post the biggest risk, not only for the mining sector, but for the country as a whole this focus might be too nar- row. PwC believes the socio-economic challenges need to be addressed on an integrated basis. The limitations of supply of key commodities required for the total green energy value chain are likely to limit the pace of the energy transition to the extent that a realistic transition will result in most of the existing coal mines closing on their normal life of mine planned times. In fact, in the next decade, the country stands to lose more jobs in the gold sector for planned mine closures than in the coal sector. The mining industry is well positioned to use the global energy transition opportunity to enable growth in SA. This includes the opportunity for research and development (R&D) and industries to support the renewable energy industry in general and the green hydrogen economy. Smart mining The mining workforce – from a job role, digital skills and behaviour perspective – is evolving continuously. In a recent PwC survey of digital trans- formation in the South African mining sector, most respondents believed that there will be a change in the nature of the workforce to more skilled

tal transformation proactively and to minimise the potential negative impact on the workforce and operations through upskilling and reskilling,” says Marcia Mokone, partner in PwC’s Mining Division. Although digitised training has a number of ben- efits, in the South African mining context there are some challenges that need to be considered: lan- guage barriers and literacy levels; workforce age groups, generational expectation differences, and cultural norms; physical infrastructure, and asset development and operating costs; and scalability, adaptability and accessibility of training. “As mining organisations think about new ways of learning, they will need to put plans in place to future-proof their workforces in order to address these factors and, more importantly, the realities of diverse workforce generations, cultures and literacy levels,” adds Mokone. ESG enters the mining mainstream PwC has observed many large mining companies protecting their investments by diverting invest- ments away from coal towards investments that are likely to support the net zero agenda. Shareholders and other stakeholder scrutiny are turning up the heat on how mining companies operate – this is becoming a real concern for the industry. There is widespread recognition in the industry that for South Africa to achieve its net zero ambi- tions, ESG must be a core component of any mining company’s strategy and policies. Mining companies have often been criticised for not doing ‘enough’ on ESG and consequently are increasingly challenged

Monthly revenue show record prices and production recovery.

34  MODERN MINING  October 2021

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