Johannesburg — THE South African mining industry is undergoing an extensive transformation amid the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) taking root in what is among the major sectors of the continent's most advanced economy.
Mining forms the backbone of the South African economy and is responsible for a third of the country's commodity exports.
It is indirectly responsible for employment in associated industries, through its vast supply chain.
"The industry that everybody currently knows will be unrecognizable in five to seven years," said Tony O'Neill, Technical Director at Anglo American.
He was speaking ahead of the first 4IR in Mining Seminar in South Africa.
The event is scheduled for the Gauteng Province on May 31.
Baletsema Mining Services, in partnership with BotsZa, are organising the conference.
"We look forward to welcoming powerful industry minds to our panel as well as significant stakeholders in the mining value chain, to not only drive a conversation at the seminar, but allow the audience to leave the room with some knowledge of what the future of mining looks like and action points that can be taken to ensure that the 4IR transition in the industry is as smooth as possible," said Bokang Kelepa, Baletsema Mining Services Managing Director.
Officially opening the Invest in African Mining Indaba in February, Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe, spoke about the Mining Charter III and its requirement for locally produced mining goods and services.
"This requirement provides South African mining technology companies with the opportunity to contribute immensely to the integration of the fourth industrial revolution in mining and will hopefully boost entrepreneurship in this regard," Mantashe said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address (SoNa) highlighted the importance of South Africa adapting to change and embracing 4IR.
He mentioned the appointment of a Presidential Commission on the 4IR, whose 30 members were announced earlier this month.
"As government plays its role in creating an environment in which mining thrives for the benefit of all our people, we urge the industry to take advantage of the technological advances underpinning the fourth industrial revolution," Ramaphosa said.