Orezone Announces Appointment of New Director
RETIREMENT OF DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Mineral Deposits Limited©2006
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September Issue
Warning on BEE fronting
A stern warning was issued by the Department of Minerals and Energy's (DME) director general Sandile Nogxina, against Black-owned companies willingly fronting for white-owned companies and misusing their rights to mine in South Africa.  The director-general was speaking on the occasion of black-owned Pamodzi Gold's first gold pour at its Middelvlei mine in Randfontein, west of Johannesburg at the end of August.

The Middelvlei mine is 50.1% owned by Pamodzi Resources with the remainder owned by the Superior Mining Corporation of Canada.  Nogxina said that the government will clamp down on the practice of fronting.  He stressed that the DME will go as far as finding legislative means to bring an end to fronting.

"We will fight this and we will not allow this to happen in the mining or petroleum sectors," Nogxina said.

He added that fronting erodes the  ideals of black economic empowerment (BEE), which he said are to deracialise the economy and give blacks a stake in the country's assets such as mineral rights.

He went on to slam the practice by some BEE companies that allow loopholes to be created in decision making. So that, despite having greater shareholding, many BEE partners do not have any actual power when it comes to making decisions in the boardroom. He said that allowing such loopholes to exist is pure greed for short-term gain on the part of Bee giants and amounts to selling out other black people,  Nogxina added that BEE needs to be seen as the correct way of doing business in South Africa and not as a system of limitations.

Nogxina who was asked to unveil a plague at the ceremonial first gold pour, said that South Africa mining industry needs to be able to right the wrongs of its legacy by fully exploiting the potential of benefication and making sure that mining is sustainable.  "Until recently black people were refused participation in mining in this country except as purveyors of cheap labour," he said.

He said that the re-opening of the Middelvlei mine under the Pamodzi banner represents an important financial opportunity for the community of Randfontein and also for the South African economy as a whole, especially with gold mining's diminished economic force in the last few years.  He added that South Africa's economic growth has moved beyond the country's own geographic boundaries and become more broadly inclusive and therefore international partnerships need to be nurtured for the country's benefit.  He welcomed the global collaboration between Pamodzi and its new Canadian partners.

Effect of new Bill on training.

Companies have for years filled the gap left by the state's technical colleges, with up to an estimated 6 000 businesses offering training.  But according to some education and training experts, if you have received a qualification from such a business or an unregistered training provider; your qualification might be unrecognised; that is if the Further Education and Training (FET) Bill us promulgated in its current format and the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) remains un resolved.

FET is that area of learning which in the past provided qualifications like standards 8 to 10 (provided by schools and technical colleges) and the National Technical Certificate (NTCs) 1 to 3 (Usually provided by technical colleges).  The FET band is now between levels 2 and 4 on the NQF scale.

Problems with accreditation

FET comprises three different pathways: academic, vocationally, orientated and occupation-specific.

The Further Education and Training Act aims to transform both the public and private education and training institutions that provide learning in this sector.

To be registered and accredited as a FET institution, a provider will need to offer programmes based on nationally recognised qualifications and standards.

According to Educator's Dr Paul Steyn, the problem is that while many of these small trainers do an excellent job, they are so small that registering as a partly limited company as stipulated by the law would be onerous for them.

Says Marietta van Rooyen of the Assessment College, which provides subject matter experts to various organisations. "The most fundamental problem lies with the requirement to be accredited with Umalusi and registered with the Department of Education.

"Providers already accredited with another Education Training Qualification Authority are rejected by Umalusi and told that they cannot be accredited in two places.  In addition the registration regulations are too onerous for businesses, for example, they must register 18 months before they may offer programmes, and they need to register new programmes 12 months before they start offering them.  This does not make business sense and will simply close down these providers."

Busi Mabena, the Chamber of Mines' skills devlopment advisor, is quick to put this into perspective.  "You need to be very careful here.  The Act is talking about service providers that provide a full qualification, not a skills programme."

He explains "Matric is a full qualification.  So is any artisan qualification.  However, a blasting certificate programme is not a full qualification, but a skills programme.  Therefore, the Act asks a service provider offering a full qualification to both register and and be accredited.  A skills programme provider has to register and meet the requirements only of the relevant Sector Education Training Authority it operates in.  Government is therefore ensuring fly by nights are removed."

First gold pour for Pamodzi Gold

A JSE listing is in the offering for Pamodzi Gold which marked its first gold pour at its Middelvlei operations at the end of August.

Chairman Ndaba Ntsele described the moment as a deeply emotional one for the black-owned company that jointly owns the opencast Randfontein mine with Canadian company Superior Mining.  "Today is an emotional day, we kissed that first gold bar of ours," he said at the unveiling of a plaque to mark the occasion at Middelvlei, about 80 kilometres west of Johannesburg.

He explained that the company had traveled a long journey before becoming operational in June 2006.  He said it had involved negotiations with the local community and also called for the co-operation and support from established mining heavy weights Gold Fields from which Pamodzi bought the mine and Harmony Gold with which it has a toll treatment agreement at Harmony Doornkop plant.

Ntsele said the re-opening of the Middelvlei operations is just a taste of what is to come for Pamodzi.  "We are about to conclude a deal with Canada's Bema gold mine to gain a controlling stake in Bema Petrex underground mine on the East Rand," said Ntsele.

With the Pamodzi controlling stake, Petrex will meet its 26% empowerment equity requirements, as required by law, to qualify for new mining rights.

Pamodzi Gold's chief executive, Tony Murdoch Eaton, said that Middelvlei is optomistic of being able to target an output of 16 000 ounces of gold a year, building up to 40 000 ounces a year by the end of 2007.

There are currently 36 miners employed at the operation who are sourced from the local community Murdoch Eaton says this number could swell to around 100 by the end of 2007.  "We have outsourced the bulk of our services because of our size, and our intention was to start up lean and mean," he says.

The mine which lies in the so-called Black Reef ore body, is estimated to have around 520 000 tons of ore reserves with just under 320 000 of that being reserves that can be mines by the current opencast operation methods.  The grade is 4.05g/ton and Middelvlei is expected to have around a six year life span.

Mining creating opportunities

 Platinum has become increasingly sought after, for fine jewellery and in catalytic converters for petrol and diesel powered motor vehicles.  The area of Steelpoort has been tagged for development owing to its untouched, immense supplies of platinum, chrome and vanadium.  Some of South Africa's largest and well-known mineral mining groups are extending their operations and interests in Steelpoort.  With expansion comes the need for labor and subsequently housing.

Studies have shown that because of the extent and quality of material in the area, the life expectancy of the Steelpoort mines is between 50 and 150 years.  There is a definite need for housing and from that stems the need for other facilities and so there is room for growth.

The mines have already spent over R60-billion on services such as water supply, electricity, transport, waste management and people development,  Eskom is looking to develop a new substation in Steelpoort to supply the demand arising in the area.  Vodacom will also be extending its network in the area by upgrading base stations.  The upgrades and developments will not only benefit residents of Steelpoort but will also upgrade the facilities of the neighboring village.  The development of platinum mining operations in this area is expected to create a workforce of more than 20 000.  And according to statistics, for every two mine employment opportunities, 1.3 additional employment opportunities are created in the private sector.  With Burgersfort, the fastest growing town in Mpumalanga, close by, this area is guaranteed to boom.  So not only will the mines and the developing of housing empower people and create job opportunities, but there is room for future development and job creation in different areas.  Already a fuel station, large hotel chain, medical facility, school, shopping complex and office park have their eagerness to be part of the new Steelpoort.

The Steelpoort housing development project is being carried out over the next three years by the Bluezone Group, with the goal of completing it by the end of 2009.

Xstrata Coal recognises its ABET achievers

Xstrata Coal celebrated the achievements of its ABET learners at a certification ceremony last month.

Addressing the learners, trainers and other guests, Ben Burger, group training manager, said: "We are very fortunate at Xstrata Coal to have manager's support for our ABET programme.  There are currently 58 employees and 27 community students in our ABET centre on a full-time basis.

"As a result of the limited number of people we can assist on a full-time basis, we had to create the opportunity for more people to be assisted.  A centre is currently under construction in Kwa-Guqa township for this purpose.

"The centre, which will also offer computer training, will accommodate 250 students, of which we plan half to be our employees and the other half community students.

"We are proud to claim that our programme is one of only a few successful ones countrywide.

"Since 2000, when we started with our current ABET system we have assisted 278 employees am d since 2003, 68 community students.

"Unlike other programmes, our intention is not only to make people literate, but also to assist them to pursue careers in mining, engineering and surveying.

"We have assisted a total of 14 miners so far, of whom three later became shift overseers.  Another 24 learner miners are going through the programme, five of whom will qualify by December and the balance in early 2007.

"Six artisans, 16 engineering learners, two surveyor learners and three students who have completed Basic Coal Prep certificates have also benefited from the programme.

"To ensure high standards we use Independent Examination Board (IEB) examinations, marked by the IEB.  The success of this approach is evident in our technical college results, where we boast a Department of Education pass rate of 95% for NCOR, N1 and N2.

"Although the Technical College required pass mark for N1 and N2 is 40%, we do not accept this and expect our students to have a minimum pass mark of 50%.  By adopting this policy, we have a better access rate at Colliery Training College.

All of this is only possible as a result of hard work by our students and dedicated facilitators."

At the ceremony, 103 certificates were presented to 53 ABET students - 17 with distinction.  Eighteen certificates were also presented to Basic Coal Preparation students - two with distinctions.



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