Students realise dreams
STUDENTS who enrolled at the recently opened Lonmin Artisan Training College expressed delight at the opportunity to further their studies in the mining industry.
On completion the students stand a chance of finding employment not only at Lonmin but in other mines as well.
The college, based in Marikana, North West, was officially opened on Wednesday. Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu attended the ceremony.
While the college currently only offers a course in electrical engineering, chief executive Ian Farmer said other courses will be introduced in the near future.
"The area of electrical engineering has been identified as one in the greatest need both within Lonmin and externally," Farmer said.
Mothusi Biloane, 22, is one of the students fortunate enough to have been enrolled at the college.
Biloane, of Bapong village, said he was relieved that eventually, after a long time, his dream of being an electrician will become a reality.
"I used to send my CV to the mine all the time asking them to take me on as a learner. I didn't even want a salary, all I wanted was a chance," Biloane said.
"At last, my prayers have finally been answered and I'm very happy."
Another advantage is that the college is not far from his village and he won't have to spend on travelling costs.
Another student, Daniel Mphatsoe, 34, said he had endured ridicule when he first started at the mine.
"I started working in 2008. I started as a shaft timberman, what is normally referred to at the mine as malaisha (regular labourer)," Mphatsoe said.
"People also called us rats because we work underground. The advantage was that I already had an N2, so when I arrived at the mine, I applied for learnerships.
"With endurance I managed to end up as one of the learners. I will complete my course soon and it's such a great feeling."
The first phase of the college cost about R7-million for infrastructure and equipment.
Farmer said the college's intake would initially be 45 for electrical engineering.
"The second phase of the college will include the introduction of three additional trades - boilermaker, fitter and rigging in 2013.
"Three remaining trades - instrument mechanics, diesel mechanics and millwrighting - will be introduced in 2014," he said.
"By the end of the implementation of phase 3 there will be a total of 250 learners in our artisan training."