Pretoria - Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu says a lack of skills is one of the binding constraints to growth and development in the mining industry.
She said the increasing involvement of mining companies in communities will go a long way towards achieving a technically skilled population.
Speaking at the launch of the Lonmin Artisan College in KwaMarikane in the North West on Wednesday, Shabangu expressed concerns about the absorption of qualified skilled personnel in the mining industry to other sectors.
"Mining, mechanical and electrical engineers are absorbed by financial services companies, consultancies, or equipment service providers. To compound this, we are facing the challenge that we continuously lose our people that we have trained to countries who are mostly in the developed north," she said.
Shabangu said the launch of the Lonmin Artisan Training College would ensure that the country will have the necessary skills to power the mining industry.
"We are facing dire challenges with regard to the low level of skills base which is negatively affecting our young people."
Shabangu said Lonmin decided to take it upon itself to build their own college precisely because they identified a need in the community.
"Being a viable business in the area for close on 20 years, they needed and wanted, to give something of real value back," she said, adding that college will play a very important role as it is a partnership with the community.
"This partnership will assist with skills shortages and will provide Lonmin with the appropriate pipeline of skills. This will most definitely contribute to the success of Lonmin, and indeed of our sector and our country," Shabangu said.
She said with the establishment of the college, the local community will no longer have to go to other provinces for technical skills training.