The strategic importance of certain minerals, the value of mineral production
to the South African economy and the importance of minerals in everyone's
daily life are outlined.
Tomorrow's challenge is based on two important issues, namely the control of
inflation and the provision of adequate manpower. High rates of inflation and
interest rates have a detrimental effect on long-term planning for high-capital
mining projects. Unstable metal prices, which are affected by the world
economic climate, political issues and other factors, make financing and forward
planning of projects difficult. Control of working costs in respect of
labour, power, fuel and equipment is extremely important, especially in regard
to the exploitation of low-grade ore bodies.
Large-scale expansion of the coal mining industry is planned, but the advisability
of large good-grade coal exports is questioned. Uranium must play a
greater role in world power generation in the future, and the protection of the
environment must receive more attention.
The industries' personnel requirements is discussed against the background of
past shortages and the dependence on immigrants. Important issues are the
role of diplomates from technikons in lower management positions, the
employment of graduates in industry, training, and the role of the two traditional
mining schools at the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Pretoria.
The small number of Afrikaans-speaking mining engineering students is
discussed, as well as potential student sources.
The Mining Department at Pretoria University is now 17 years old, and 111
graduates have been produced. Growth of the Department, liason with industry,
consulting assignments by staff, and research directions are important
aspects for the future. The use of computers in mining is emphasised.
Specialisation through post-graduate courses, short courses for Industry, and
mining tours are areas requiring attention.