Development programme to equip Welkom residents with mining skills

(Supplied)
(Supplied)

Welkom – Harmony Gold says an agreement has been reached with the Matjhabeng municipality and the Unemployment Forum to implement a special community development programme that will equip residents in certain Free State communities with mining skills.

Harmony Gold spokesperson Max Manoeli said the agreement had been reached on Friday and would benefit residents in Welkom and surrounding areas.

This comes after violence erupted in the local municipality townships and surrounding areas earlier this week.

Disgruntled residents from Welkom, Thabong and Odendaalsrus in the Free State barricaded the main roads with burning tyres, rocks and other objects in a protest against lack of mining jobs.

Several shops in the area were also looted.

"Harmony will provide training and certification of mining operator skills such as rock drill operating, winch and loco driving. The main idea is to create a pool from which Harmony can absorb a workforce from the successful trainees," Manoeli said.

Manoeli said there might be an opportunity for a successful trainee to join Harmony and be part of the workforce.

"These skills have a high turnover and are the core of our business. The intention of this programme is to build capacity within the local community."

Unemployment Forum spokesperson Sono Mokoena said they had mixed emotions at this stage.

"We have been requesting this programme for some time now. Other than that, we are happy that people are given the opportunity to [be equipped with skills]," Mokoena said.

Mokoena said 70 miners will start the programme at Harmony Gold and 30 others at Sibanye Gold on November 1.

The protest has since been suspended.

"We had to suspend the protest because we discovered that there were some criminal elements that came into place."

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