July 4, 2009
Association of Mine Managers of South Africa
PO Box 61709
Application for Membership (Class – Ordinary)
I wish to apply to become a member of your esteemed organisation. There is however a number of issues I need to clarify. Your constitution clearly states the requirements for ordinary membership but there may be a few grey areas in my case. Let me explain.
I am manager of a mine in the Free State, Elands Mine, an operation you may be familiar with since we have been, like many other mining operations the world over and particularly in South Africa, on the receiving end of some negative and, may I say, unfair and unwarranted media attention. The media campaign against us because of an unfortunate, isolated incident of minor consequence resulting in the fire that killed a few unfortunate workers can only be described as a travesty and exceeded the norms of fair reportage. Truth be known, had it not been for the lack of cooperation from the so killed called, “formal mining sector“, this incident would never have occurred. Matter of fact, had it not been for this misguided action of a confused worker nobody outside our organisation would have known about the incidence. As a mining man, you would understand these things.
In support of my application, I have a Mine Managers Certificate of Competency, which I legally purchased when I was working on the Platinum mines in Rustenburg. A friend, employed at the DME’s office in Klerksdorp, will confirm it is kosher, should anyone decide to do checks.
There are currently about 1500 people employed in the operation, this number fluctuates since workers disappear in the “madala sites” from time to time, others just abscond, a cultural trait of my brethren that will never seize to amaze me, resulting in a need to recruit replacement which, as you well know is not so easy these days. Not with the lowly skilled and lazy riff-raff out there. It is also not possible to give you an accurate estimate of tonnage mined in the operation. We have learned that “grade is king” and we measure output in ounces only. I found that linking earnings to ounces, I get better performance and we do not need “hangers on”, such as surveyors and grade controllers.
I believe my experience can add substantially to the body of knowledge of your esteemed organisation. The nature of our operations necessitates unorthodox methods and entrepreneurial thinking, which can assist people like you and I to reverse the shrinking trend that besets our industry. The fact that we are successfully mining in areas, abandoned by the formal mining sector, proves beyond any doubt that we have a working model.
Areas of operations in which my knowledge can be of particular importance is training and multi-skilling of employees, most of our people are skilled in the entire value chain, from exploration to final product. We have people in our employ who specialise in logistics, a particularly daunting challenge if you consider workers live underground for extended periods, quite an achievement since we do not have the luxury of hoisting facilities as you know it. I always say, “We find, we mine and we process”.
Although we are not bound by DME rules and even though the Minister denies us our constitutional rights to make a living, we do take safety seriously. Excluding the unfortunate fire that resulted in the so-called, “Illegal Mining Disaster”, we have been doing very well in work place safety, with our safety record improving every year. Last year we had an estimated fifty fatalities and this year, excluding the fire deaths, we had only forty. The real improvement can be seen in the number of amputations reported. It came down from 150 last year to an estimated 90 this year. These numbers, I can assure you are correct. My son, who passed Mathematics Literacy at school, is the chief statistician for the company and he can teach you a lot about statistics.
I will also contribute my experience in the in safeguarding of investments against the likes of Jelly Tsotsi Malema, his Buti Malemela and Ballcrusher Vavi with their plans for a hostile takeover of the mining industry. We have established tried and tested defense systems against this type of hard-line guerilla tactics. Our people had training from the best in anti-insurgency and defensive warfare, which we adapted for underground conditions and include the use of grenades, anti-personnel mines, deadly gas, not to mention guns, that’s right, we are the reason the President can’t find his machine gun…we’ve got it. We do not use guns too often underground, only in close combat; ricochets can be dangerous in that environment, whilst poisonous gas, ingeniously used with the ventilation flow, is very effective.
Cynthia Carroll will vouch for us on this one, I recently advised her on defensive systems against the threat posed by that Swiss company with the funny name and Swiss Army Knives as main weapon for “hostile” mergers. We know how devious the Swiss can be. War after war they pretend to be on the fence just so they can lay there frostbitten hands on the gold. It will not surprise me in the least to find they swindled the poor Paul Kruger out of his gold, for all we know the Kruger Millions have been stashed in a UBS vault, in Zurich all the time, whilst treasure hunters are running all over the Mpumalanga countryside looking for gold . It is also quite conceivable that Paul Kruger set this up all those years ago to take revenge against Anglo, whose founding fathers, were in many quarters considered British agents and conspirators in the oppression of the “Boere”.
I can tell you a lot more, but I’m sure you get the picture. I’m looking forward to the many opportunities, we will have to chew the fat, or shall I say chew the Crayfish, whilst drinking copious amounts of John X Merriman and Blue Label at those famously wild monthly meetings I heard about.
Yours in Safety