Mining forms the backbone of the South African economy. The industry is responsible for a third of South Africa’s commodity exports, and is indirectly responsible for employment in associated industries, through its vast supply chain.

Tony O’Neill, Technical Director at Anglo American said: “The industry that everybody currently knows will be “unrecognizable” in five to seven years.”

The mining industry has major potential for growth in the form of technological advancements. The Fourth Industrial Revolution produces the perfect opportunity for technological growth in the industry. It is also considered to be a disruptor of the mining value chain as its success is dependent on government and various sub-sectors including education, finance, and consulting among others. The full day 4IR in Mining Seminar is aimed at addressing the challenges associated with the implementation of 4IR practices in a South African context.

The 4IR in Mining Seminar comes only three months after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, where he highlighted the importance of South Africa adapting to change and embracing the revolutionary technology advancements taking place across the world, as well as the opportunities that they have to offer for the country’s development. The president also made mention of appointing a Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, whose 30 members were announced earlier this month.

In his address at the Invest in African Mining Indaba in February, the president went on to say: “As government plays its role in creating an environment in which mining thrives for the benefit of all our people, we urge the industry to take advantage of the technological advances underpinning the fourth industrial revolution.

I am encouraged by some of our mining houses that are already making use of technology – no longer for purposes of replacing people with machines – but fundamentally to improve efficiency, guarantee safety, produce a skilled workforce and, most importantly, preserve jobs.”

Officially opening this year’s Invest in African Mining Indaba, Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe spoke about the Mining Charter III and its requirement for “locally produced mining goods and services.”. This requirement provides South African mining technology companies with the opportunity to contribute immensely to the integration of the fourth industrial revolution in mining and will hopefully boost entrepreneurship in this regard.

The 4IR in Mining Seminar will begin with a presentation depicting the state of SA with regards to the adoption of 4IR technology and the position of those presumed to lead the pack as a benchmark i.e. Australia (Vedanta).

As part of the seminar, there will be a research tour consisting of visits to international educational institutions including the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland as well as mines including Western Australian Mines and others, all of whom have embraced the 4IR movement.

The tour will provide much-needed insight into identifying the factors that contribute to the successful execution of 4IR initiatives in mining and help contributors to devise a road map that will assist South African mines with implementation whilst circumventing the impact that may arise from volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) in the industry.

Following the presentation, organizers have gathered a strong panel of experts from various sectors within the mining value chain including government, private sector, academia, unions, and the financial sector. The panel will drive a dialogue aimed at helping the South African Mining Industry to move forward in a controlled manner.

“We look forward to welcoming powerful industry minds to our panel as well as significant stakeholders in the mining value chain, to not only drive a conversation at the seminar, but allow the audience to leave the room with some knowledge of what the future of mining looks like and action points that can be taken to ensure that the 4IR transition in the industry is as smooth as possible.” -says Bokang Kelepa, Managing Director of Baletsema Mining Services.

As a round up to the annually intended seminar, the organisers will work with industry experts to produce a paper on 4IR in mining that will be beneficial to all parties in the mining value chain and other relevant sectors and stakeholders.

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