Skills gap stifles mining sector growth

Source: Skills gap stifles mining sector growth | The Herald May 8, 2019

Skills gap stifles mining sector growth

Esinathy Sibanda Bulawayo Bureau
Lack of skills remains a major impediment to the desired growth of the mining industry, which is one of Zimbabwe’s key export sectors.

Speaking during the launch of the Young Miners Foundation (YMF) at the Zimbabwe School of Mines (ZSM) in Bulawayo last week, the new organisation’s chief executive officer, Mr Payne Kupfuwa, pointed to what he termed “pervasive skills   and knowledge gap” in the sector, particularly in the small to medium scale mining operations.

He said there was a need for mining experts and professionals to partner small to medium scale miners to foster professionalism at that level and maximise production.

“Skills and professionalism gap is the key factor stifling growth of the mining industry especially in the small to medium scale sector.

“Although the country possesses the most sought after mineral deposits, there are serious gaps at the functional level to drive innovation required to optimise the performance of mining,” said Mr Kupfuwa.

“In as much as this sector (small and medium scale mining) is notably contributing to the national production output, we feel that the production levels will double if syndicates and partnerships are formed between these miners and experts such as graduates from mining institutions like this one (ZSM).

“They will bring in their skills and expertise and boost the mining industry.

“There is a need to advance miners’ entrepreneurial interests through collaboration with either students or other consultancy institutions to build a network and help acquire better mining methods, skills and access to latest developments information.”

Skills cited as lacking include geological mapping, basic computer and data processing, data management, mineral evaluation, marketing, assaying, geological, research and analytical, contract negotiation, rock mechanics, resource estimation, human resources, financial and legal drafting skills.

Mr Kupfuwa added that the mining sector was also constrained by policies not clearly communicated or disseminated and policy inconsistency.

While the mining industry is strategic to growth and recovery of the domestic economy as it currently accounts for 16 percent of GDP, more needs to be done to capacitate the small scale miners, he said.

The sector has generated an average of $2 billion in the last two years and remains the anchor for near term growth prospects despite low prices plaguing the commodities markets.