Surface miners are facing a growing number of challenges prompting surface mining association to again appeal to mine owners to get behind the association and become part of a unified voice for the industry.

With profits under pressure as a result of ever-more onerous compliance issues as well as other challenges it is increasingly beneficial to become a member of Aspasa, that has the best interest of its members and the industry at heart.

Aspasa director, Nico Pienaar says there are 12 overarching services within Aspasa representing miners’ voices that the association wants to highlight. He continues:

Moving forward

“Technological advances are at the forefront of innovation especially in transport with Trackless Mobile Machinery (TMM), Proximity Detection Systems (PDS) and regulations relating to road transport in general. New members will be brought up to speed on trackless mobile machines regarding risk assessment, the implementation of effective controls and traffic management and collision avoidance technology requirements.

“Proper risk assessments and Traffic Management Plans (which should actually be already in place) outweigh the cost of Section 54 stoppages”. He added that fitting PDS systems are not yet fully functional, but several systems are being tested by Aspasa and suppliers to stay up to date with latest technology.

“Secondly, Aspasa helps members technically, in terms of the quality of the aggregate mined and the final product sold as well as information related to the production process. In essence a mine should have a quality management programme in place which can be audited regularly. Aspasa has developed such a programme with links to relevant methods, standards and specifications.

Keeping track

“Checklists show the member how to implement the programme especially procedures for sampling and testing and then the reporting and communicating of a quality product produced to your customer.

“Engineering is another service covered by Aspasa which should be of enormous importance to members as it gives advice on how changes to the Mine Health and Safety Act of 1996 impacts on engineering research and development. Aspasa has taken up the development of engineering career paths in surface mines and has a committee that deals with it.

“Coupled with career paths are Aspasa’s service commitment to Human Resources and Training. The sector needs people that are skilled and competent to help companies survive, change and develop in the future. The fourth industrial revolution (building on the digital revolution) is already changing customer expectations, product enhancement and how companies innovate in providing a quality product. To this end, training and education workshops are planned for 2019 to ensure members have fully skilled employees and managers.

Government liaison

“Of vital importance to members and therefore to the industry as a whole is Aspasa’s liaison with government. An allied service is to ensure its members are legally compliant. The association’s liaison with government is evident in the stakeholders’ submission to the Mining Occupational Health & Safety Research Programme.

Constant contact with government at all levels means members are kept up to date with legislation, permitting them to mine within the parameters set by the law. It also keeps mining communities informed.

Escalating in importance worldwide is protection of the environment. Not only do members face legally compliant requirements for environmental aspects and impacts but also on how such requirements affect the health, safety and work environment of employees and companies.

Skills development

Aspasa is planning an environmental workshop on April 2nd presented by practicing environmental lawyers which shouldn’t be missed! Members are also informed of climate change laws that need to be implemented. On a day-to-day operations level Aspasa is working with members on health & safety audits trying to achieve zero fatalities and avoid lost productivity due to injury.

A further benefit of belonging to Aspasa is the adverts, articles, hand-outs, law books and bulletins provided to members. This includes insights gained from liaison within South Africa with other professional associations as well as those from abroad. [645]