Kim Schoepflin, CEO of Kwatani, said: "Our branch near the customer's mining operation has for many years employed and developed local expertise. Our latest initiative takes this further, by upskilling a local sub-contractor to conduct certain maintenance work on our behalf."
A lengthy selection process was conducted by Kwatani to find a suitable sub-contractor, followed by ongoing training to empower artisanal miners and other workers with specialised skills. Schoepflin added that it was also important to involve the mine itself, so that the operating company remains confident in the strength of its supply chain.
"Promoting local employment, skills and sustainability cannot be a tick-box exercise," Schoepflin said. "It has to be based on proper engagement, hands-on training and the sub-contractor's own commitment."
She warned that mining legislation and regulatory pressure can tempt stakeholders to rush such a process. "This would be a mistake; rather, it should be treated as an opportunity to strengthen the capability of all stakeholders."
Kwatani's 35 years of experience in heavy duty minerals applications means that the OEM now has approximately 800 vibrating screens and feeders in the Northern Cape. The maintenance contract is an ideal opportunity to involve and foster the technical capability of local players, according to Schoepflin.
It was vital that the chosen sub-contractor already had considerable experience and capacity, equipment and relevant expertise.
"As a South African OEM with our own technologies and intellectual property, we are able to certify the sub-contractor and their quality of work," Schoepflin said. "Phase 1 of our initiative will see them conducting basic service and maintenance functions."
Kwatani retains responsibility for all work conducted, and continues with services such as detailed technical inspections, engineering support, on-site testing and diagnosis. It also supplies OEM spare parts, ensuring quality control, increased lifecycle time and reduced downtime.