Mining remains a critical player in the macro-economic landscape of South Africa. But government, business, labour and civil society need to ask how they can align a ‘here-and-now’ emphasis on job creation, while focusing on digitalisation. This critical factor will enable South Africa to become more competitive globally and ensure that we increase digital skills in the industrial sector, without disadvantaging mining as a viable job enabler in the future.
Digitalisation in the mining industry goes well beyond the automation of production. It allows new approaches to business processes and creates real opportunities to merge the digital and physical worlds. The value of data, coupled with machine learning, artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing, offers South Africa a remarkable opportunity to create smart mines of the future. For example, imagine intelligent machines able to adjust operating parameters based on information received from other machines. These advanced capabilities will boost production and translate into profits. What must be addressed though, is how investors and technology leaders can also become educators and skills developers.
The Digital Mining Incubator is a co-creation space focused on developing mining engineering competence. The incubator is integrated into the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct and is aimed at upskilling young individuals who have an interest in the mining sector, as well as disadvantaged individuals interested in participating in the future of mining. Together with mentors from Wits, Tshimologong and Siemens, students will be enabled with the necessary tools and skills to transform and develop the South African mining sector.
Sabine Dall’Omo, Siemens CEO for Southern and Eastern Africa says, “Our partnership with Wits and Tshimologong is about advancing the digital opportunities that mining offers our youth. Failing to position the mining sector in South Africa within discussions about the fourth industrial revolution means remaining stagnant on the path towards industrialisation. It’s like being back in the ‘80s, watching black and white television and constantly trying to reposition the bunny aerial to get rid of those blurry lines, all while living in the year 2019. This is not where you want to be.
“At Siemens we believe that there needs to be genuine investment towards the localisation of technology and the development of digital talent to enable a strong, future-oriented workforce. The integration of digitally-adept youth into the world of work will not only inspire new ideas, it will also transform and advance industries.”
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