Senior lecturer Dr. Cuthbert Musingwini and Makete Thema Chairman of the Students Mining Engineering Society, handed the Mike Teke (centre) Optimum Coal CEO a certificate and token of appreciation for his support for students in the mining engineering field.

“If you run a mine, you have to be a responsible miner,” are the words that echoed to the hoards of mining engineering students in celebration of Mine Manager’s day on Friday, May 6.

The Student Mining Engineering Society (SMES) at Wits University hosted majority black-owned mining company Optimum Coal and handed an award to the CEO, Mike Teke, for the company’s active support of students in the mining field.

Students came out dressed in formal office wear, in the spirit of their ambitions to one day hold positions at mine managers-movers and shaker s in their engineering discipline. Students flocked to Starock park to listen to the renditions of the first hand experience of a man in who held a managerial position in the mining sector as many would like to see themselves.

“Today is about encouraging ourselves to make it to mine manager position, so we won’t be stuck in production but get to work in decision-making and planning positions,” said Maureen Phambane, 3rd year Mining Engineering.

The private sector should join forces with government bodies and tertiary institutions to develop the skills resource in South Africa. Safety and protection of the environment are primary concerns for Optimum Coal. In 2008, it created a water treatment plant that handles 15 million litres a day. The water treated at the plant is now sold to local communities, said Teke.

Makete Thema, chairman of the Student Mining Engineering Society organised the event and said, “We want to hear from the people who are already working in the field and celebrate Mine manager’s day because we believe it gives us the platform to think big and get inspired.

“In general, we got an expressive response as the venue was filled with students. I think we should do our best to encourage and invite people from the corporate sector because they have first-hand experience and vital information to relay to us.”