Wits graduates see power of change in Anglo’s BLAST program

Earning a place in Anglo American’s flagship graduate program is an achievement in itself, but more importantly gives top achievers an opportunity to change the face of mining – as two graduates from the School of Mining Engineering at Wits University are finding out.

Participants in Anglo American’s Building Leaders and Shaping Talent (BLAST) program, Wits Mining graduates Millicent Naledi Mabidilala and Thando Nkolongwane are now among a select few being fast-tracked though all aspects of mining at the start of their careers.

For both of these high-flyers, the experience is all about change – and how they can use this learning process to help mining find a more sustainable future.

“The mining industry has been through some tough times, especially with the slump in commodity prices – and this can lead to one being concerned about the future,” said Naledi. " However, my experience in the BLAST program so far has shifted my perspective to focus on adapting to change; I am building the skills and experience as a leader to drive change in a mining industry that will be more resilient to market instability and be able to adopt technology.”

Nkolongwane’s time in the program is also giving him insights into an exciting – and safer – future for mining, where the potential for automation is being tested and proved.

“I am particularly interested in the ‘mine of the future’ as an important business driver for the mining industry,” he said. “This will help eliminate preventable accidents and mining related fatalities; countries like Australia are showing the way in terms of automation in the mining industry and I want to be part of the generation that will pioneer this knowledge of automation in South African mines.”

Both are spending time in Anglo American’s South African operations – in roles closely related to their fields of study – and will be posted on two continents during their time in the BLAST program. In their international assignment, they will embark upon a second role to gain additional experience and broaden their knowledge and skills. Their third and final roles in the program will be to prepare them for being placed within the business.

Professor Cuthbert Musingwini, Head of the School of Mining Engineering at Wits University, said he and his colleagues are always proud to have their students chosen for prestigious and influential programs like the BLAST program.

“Being nurtured by the industry at this level, these students also carry forward the School’s own focus on innovation and excellence in mining, demonstrating the vital role that universities are playing in helping chart the future course of mining globally,” said Professor Musingwini