With the local mining industry having struggled to stay profitable for the past 15 to 20 years, digital engagement company Wyzetalk CEO Gys Kappers stresses that the emphasis being placed on technological advancements – such as the Wyzetalk platform – at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba will be crucial to bolstering the viability and longevity of local mine operations.

“The local mining industry is in crisis,” states Kappers. He points to the country’s inability to ensure the right legislative, administrative and operating environment, which he states is being compounded by a decline in resource demand, weakening prices and increasing market volatility.

He comments that, while many mining companies have stated their intention to close deep- level mining operations, many mines also may have to consider mining deeper to reach new deposits, which is resulting in a significant increase in extraction costs. These costs are forcing mining companies to make difficult decisions to sustain short-term operations while adhering to long-term objectives.

Moreover, advanced technologies are for the most part positively impacting on the industry, from a safety, productivity and mechanised mining perspective as well as are impacting on the broader industry. However, Kappers explains that new and innovative products and services require new materials, which is changing the mix in the demand for minerals and metals. While this is expected to continue, it also has long-term implications for the demand for primary resources.

Kappers suggests that the mining industry will have to embrace new disruptive technologies as an enabler. In terms of digital disruption, most observers cite the example of machinery optimisation and how the mining industry is leveraging digital technology to deal with the productivity and safety challenges it faces, he explains.

If mining companies are to succeed, they will require a deeper understanding of the possibilities afforded by new technologies, states Kappers, adding that the Investing in African Mining Indaba is a crucial event for local mining, as it demonstrates the way in which technological advancements can assist in improving the sustainability of operations and worker relations.

He emphasises that operational innovations – such as the company’s Wyzetalk platform – can improve employee relations, improve health and safety records, minimise operational downtime and bolster trust within large mining operations.

“Wyzetalk has noted a strong focus on employees and communities, as well as in investing in technology that contributes towards empowerment, inclusivity and sustainability in mining operations,” outlines Kappers.

Organisations provide a corporate email address for executives and middle management, but cannot afford to do so for blue-collar workers. This typically means that these workers receive no news – they have no view of what is happening in the business.

However, he highlights that many large companies – such as mining operations – do not have the required technology or resources available to adequately communicate with lower-level staff.

“Organisations provide a corporate email address for executives and middle management, but cannot afford to do so for blue-collar workers. This typically means that these workers receive no news – they do not know what is happening in the business and it’s very difficult for the organisation to communicate with its people.”

Kappers further states that a lack of sufficient employee engagement can have negative consequences, including increased absenteeism, lower productivity levels and increased work-related injuries.

Regular communication regarding work-related health and safety issues assists in improving company health and safety practices, which results in more informed employees, minimal work-related injuries and greater trust between the workforce and the mine, he elaborates.

Kappers explains that the Wyzetalk platform is an innovative, cloud-based employee engagement software that was first launched in 2014 to assist companies in reaching all their non-desk-based employees.

“Wyzetalk continually delivers health and safety notifications, such as best practice information, accident reports and equipment-check information to the mobile devices of all employees. This keeps health and safety concerns at the forefront of the minds of employees and ensures that safety considerations become habitual as opposed to being an afterthought.”

Further, he states that the platform allows for real-time engagement between the mine and employees, which helps to improve operational performance by enabling mine workers to communicate operational difficulties easily and in an effective manner.

The software is tailored to suit a mine’s unique requirements. The Wyzetalk professional services team combined with the mines’ communication team produce customised content that is further personalised for the individual needs of employees, based on their human resource records. Dissemination and employee interaction with all content is then tracked and made available to the organisation.

To ensure employee comfort and content interaction, Wyzetalk is multilingual and is currently the only software solution globally that is completely agnostic – allowing for its functioning on any mobile device including older generation feature phones.

Wyzetalk currently serves 21 companies – ten of which are large mining houses – and caters to 200 000 individual users.

 

This article was published by Mining Weekly.