Orion Mineral’s introductory mining familiarisation short courses within the Siyathemba Municipality, in South Africa’s Northern Cape province, have raised public awareness of the mining industry and the opportunities the industry creates.
The five-day short courses have been offered free-of-charge in Prieska, Marydale and Niekerkshoop, to residents who have completed their grade 12 and have an interest in mining.
The programme has, to date, been successfully completed by 279 participants, with a total of 300 people registered for the first programme. The training is facilitated by an accredited service provider, Mathome Training and Development. Participants earn credits towards industry-recognised mining-related qualifications.
Charlene Office, a local waitress who received training in Prieska, says she learned so much in the week of her training. “I thought that mining was only about going and digging minerals from the earth. After my week there, I felt like I knew exactly what was happening, especially in terms of geology,” Office said, adding that she really liked the way everything was explained.
“They explained it in such a way that anyone could understand it. After that whole week, I investigated further, and I decided I wanted to go into mining,” Office said. She is considering a career in geology.
Geraldo Swarts, who attended training in Marydale, says that mining fascinates him. An LLB graduate, who needs to complete his articles, Geraldo volunteers at an NGO that specialises in skills development.
“I enjoyed everything about the training especially learning about the different minerals and their uses, how they get applied in our everyday lives. I enjoyed the course overall because I enjoy learning about mining, it fascinates me,” he says.
The training initiative is in line with Orion’s firm commitment to ensure that local communities benefit from its operations.
“The initiative has been exceptionally well received and we are encouraged by the number of residents that have applied to attend. This is the first step in the process to equip local residents with skills that will enable them to participate in future mining related job opportunities,” says Walter Shamu, COO of Orion.
Orion’s new generation base metals mine at Prieska will require a highly skilled workforce. The development of the Prieska Project is expected to give the towns of Prieska, Niekerkshoop and Marydale a boost. Not only does the operation aim to prioritise local employment wherever possible, its presence will encourage entrepreneurship and the establishment of mining-related businesses in the region.