Explosives industry needs more knowledge
Knowledge management is the key to bridging the knowledge gap in the explosives industry. This is according to Ms Joe-Nimique Cilliers, a chemical and mineral engineering lecturer and explosives engineering programme manager from the North-West University (NWU).
Joe-Nimique shared this valuable insight during the inaugural Explosives Education and Research in Africa conference that took place in Fourways on 23 November 2015.
She highlighted that many of the industry’s experts were reaching retirement age and that more needed to be done to ensure the successful transfer of their knowledge to the next generation of explosives professionals. While she acknowledged that formal education was indispensable, she pointed out that academic training could not provide the specialty knowledge and expertise provided by experience.
While the industry will always be in need of new talent, Joe-Nimique asserted that the industry had to maintain the “wisdom” and knowledge of ageing specialists, which required collaboration between all industry players across the various value chains, which she noted had a tendency to work in isolation. “We need to develop a coordinated approach to focus the industry’s resources and to share learning to address the gap,” she said.
Joe-Nimique suggested that companies operating in the explosives value chain should work with learning institutions to help determine the severity of the gap so as to implement plans to effectively address the challenge by introducing more and better qualified explosive engineers. “To achieve industry relevant education, we need to build and maintain a close link with mining, military and industry management,” she stated, pointing to the major explosives users and adding that, together with the major industries, universities could identify projects that would further develop explosives research.
Further, Joe-Nimique highlighted that through collaboration with the various industries, projects could be identified, which would give students the opportunity to gain real-world experience and, thereby, close the knowledge gap. She noted that education should be extended to those already working in the explosives industry, which would result in the industry receiving “better qualified employees”, who were more likely to remain in the industry, which had invested in them, and help secure experts for the industry in future. “To ensure quality education, we have to assess the national explosives education capability and identify gaps that require strengthening,” she asserted, concluding that the objective was to locally produce qualified and experienced explosives professionals, who were employed by local mining, military and industrial companies.
*Article by Mining Weekly