Namibia's mining industry faces tremendous challenges: Tjivikua

28 Jul 2013 10:40
WINDHOEK, 28 JUL, (NAMPA) - Namibia’s mining industry is faced with tremendous challenges, and innovation is required to address such challenges, Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) Rector Tjama Tjivikua said on Friday.
Speaking during the first-ever Mining Engineering celebration ceremony here on Friday, Tjivikua said the mining industry is faced with challenges ranging from technical skills’ shortages, declining ore grades and water quality, and supply to the other escalating energy costs and sustainability.
The Polytechnic’s first Mining Engineering students will graduate in October this year. The seven women and one man presented their work-integrated projects during the celebration.
Work-integrated learning is a modern, student-centered learning approach which helps students to reinforce the theoretical concepts studied during lecturers with the practical aspects of the field. Some of the students have been involved in assisting the Ministry of Mines and Energy in monitoring some abandoned mines.
According to him, the sustainability of the mineral's industry is heavily reliant on continues improvements to existing mining operations, coupled with building a relevantly specialised human resource base.
Without such improvements or developments, the optimum value from resources may not be realised, he noted.
“If this critical skills shortage is not addressed, it will have adverse consequences for the country. The Namibian tertiary institutions can play a crucial role in the training of students to equip them with technical skills,” said Tjivikua.
The rector further said the Namibian mining industry has to offer competitive conditions of service and remuneration packages in order to attract engineers even from beyond the country’s borders.
“This does not imply just copying and implementing the solution approach since the context differs, and to ensure sustainability of the education the lessons have to be customised to the local context,” he said.
Tjivikua indicated that there are many factors which pose a great threat to the sustainability of tertiary education. These include high student dropouts, shortage of academic staff, challenges in sourcing funding, little support from the industry, low student enrollments, low pass rates in high school science and mathematics subjects, and inadequate infrastructure.
He said the PoN thus has to learn to be innovative in its quest to produce the next generation of Namibian engineers who are competent, qualified and competitive globally, adding that the contribution of industry; Government; and local, regional and international partners cannot be over-empasised.
Tjivikua then expressed appreciation for the support from the Government of Namibia through the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the mining companies in Namibia through the Chamber of Mines, which found that locally there are shortages of mining and metallurgical engineers in the mining sector.