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Unions endorse mechanisation of mining processes

Ngoako Ramatlhodi says mechanisation of South African mining has become inevitable.

FILE: Ngoako Ramatlhodi says mechanisation of South African mining has become inevitable. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - The mechanisation of South Africa's mining processes seems to have been endorsed by labour unions following a meeting in Pretoria with the presidential forum for a sustainable industry.

Representatives from some of the biggest mining houses, the Chamber of Mines, unions and government met with President Jacob Zuma yesterday to discuss the implementation of the sustainability agreement.

The framework entails a review of mineworkers working and living conditions as well as what is necessary to ensure stability and continuous production.

Mining Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi says mechanisation of South African mining has become inevitable.

"We can't live in the past."

The Federation of Unions of South Africa's Dennis George says it presents an opportunity to retrain the workforce.

While the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said mechanisation should not be at the expense of jobs.

The NUM says the country's mining industry is at a crossroads and a deteriorating relationship between labour and management is threatening any prospects of future growth.

The union's Frans Baleni said South Africa has become an instant society and weak leadership has prolonged disputes between stakeholders over production.

Over the past two years, the NUM has lost the bulk of its support in the platinum sector but remains dominant in gold.

Baleni questioned the sustainability of tactics used by labour unions.

The effect of mechanisation on the labour intensity of mining will be discussed in detail at a labour indaba scheduled for 4 November.

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