What about all the miners?
The current mass retrenchments in mining gives us reason to worry because so much political stability is built on economic stability, and South Africa is not doing too well on either side of the equation. The global mining crisis couldn’t be any graver than it is in South Africa. SA Miners have largely missed the super cycle through political rambling and managerial muddling, and are now caught off guard by the near halving of commodity prices within the span of less than a year. Churchill observed that we must get prepared when we cannot predict. Ergo, we need to understand the dynamic (driving) forces reshaping the present and future and their impact on mining.
Think about it and you can see that the disruptions are going to come faster and harder. You need to have scenario based strategy.
The confused assemblage of miners and civil servants so easily delayed mine digitisation through a simple stump — “What about the people?” So, instead of radically reworking the production challenges in our mines, we used this very excuse to keep on adding more labor and contractors to any production challenge. Now we have an industry so uncompetitive on the world stage and mostly devoid of a mental model of how to fix it. So the rhetorical question can now be asked from the other side — what about the thousands of miners and contractors that are now being retrenched? Add to this the capital spend reductions and shelved developments, and maybe, just maybe, the answer lies in spending all our managerial efforts in designing mining systems that again can lead the world in productivity and efficiency.
The Futurist Gerald Celente writes, “If you don’t attack the future [today], the future will attack you…” In this spirit, management should pick up the challenge and re-innovate SA Mining. We can do this through leveraging what we know about mechanisation, automation and simulation. By replacing mining to its former economic position, we get the capital and the new projects reignited. These developments add real employment opportunities, and the state also gets resurgent tax revenues to direct towards the re-education and training of the people to be productive in the new digital age.