Global Mining Growth Drains SA's Pool of Engineers


"Mining giants are swiping up South Africa's well-trained engineers."

Mining Weekly, Loni Prinsloo

The battle for talent in the global mining industry is impacting on South Africa's pool of mining engineers, PricewaterhouseCoopers Africa Mining Head Hein Boegman said.

"South African mining engineers are generally well trained, and we are seeing our engineers being picked up by the big companies such as BHP Billiton and others across the globe," he said at the Johannesburg release of PwC's 'The game has changed' report.

PwC director Stefan de Klerk said that companies were paying 'top dollar' for limited skills, and questioned whether South African firms would be able to retain their mining engineers.

Boegman also questioned whether South Africa's labor environment would allow the country to import mining skills from other parts of the world.

The report highlighted that the world's top-40 mining companies have announced $300-billion of capital expenditure (CAPEX), of which $120-billion would be spent in 2011.

The world's top three mining companies, BHP Billiton, Vale and Rio Tinto, would spend about half of the $300-billion.

De Klerk explained that a significant portion of capex would be invested in Africa, even though it was hard to quantify the exact amount.

However, it seemed that South Africa would not be able to attract a significant portion of the mining investment.

Boegman said that market capitalization for companies included in the top 40 had increased 26% over the past year from $6,5-billion to $11-billion. South Africa currently has three companies included in this grouping, including AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Impala Platinum.

The composition of the top global mining companies had also seen a significant shift from traditional mining markets, in which South Africa was included, to emerging mining markets.

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