Base Titanium Limited, in collaboration with the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), offers internship opportunities to college and university students who have a passion to pursue a career in the mining and minerals industry, providing students with a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain exposure to the industry. The chance to liaise with various experienced personnel, both Kenyan and expatriates, and learn of the strategies which contribute to BTL’s on-going success is invaluable.
On 15th September 2014, I embarked on my first Base Experience. I spent two days at the training center, where I met warm and welcoming people, among them the Occupational, Health, Safety and Training (OHST) Manager Paul Thompson famously known as ‘‘Tommo’’. Training Officers took time out of their day to induct me and the other interns through the best and most interestingly of what they know and do at Base Titanium. I was able to learn about job safety, the Base core values and basic firefighting skills. I was taken on a site tour the following day. In these first few days I quickly realized the emphasis Base put on safety, it is a lesson I will carry with me my entire career.
In the mining department, I met the Mine Manger Vaughan Shaw, the Mine Superintendent Isaac Kwabe and several mine supervisors among them Yahuza Abubakar and Joshua Mwaura. I was able to attend pre-start meetings and was made to instantly feel a part of the team. I listened keenly to how supervisors organized and assign the day’s tasks to the team, again with an emphasis on safety. I was amazed at the kind of technology being applied at the Dozer Mining Unit (DMU), whereby by just clicking a simple command on a computer screen you are able to start, run and stop almost all the operations at the DMU. This is truly a hi-tech, modern operation of the digital age.
The purpose of the DMU is to convert the ore into slurry of desirable density in order to be pumped to the plant. I got involved in various tasks such as carrying out the DMU checks every morning before the beginning of the day’s work. I learnt the basic of how to operate the DMU from the control pane in the control room. I was responsible for filling JSA (Job Safety Analysis) forms and ensuring every member of the DMU read, understood and appended their signature on the form before commencing on any type of work.
The following month, I did my rotation with the production department. Here I got the opportunity to learn how the minerals are concentrated and then separated into their individual components. The separation of ilmenite involves the use of electro-magnetism principles while separation of rutile uses electrostatic principles. I learnt that the separation of these minerals uses physical qualities and does not require chemicals. Working with the metallurgists, I got to conduct density checks of the Heavy Mineral Concentrate (HMC) before it is channeled to the Mineral Separation Plant (MSP). I also carried out tonnage checks to determine the amount of products being produced within a given period.
I spent my final month with Base working on the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF). “Tailings” is a mining terminology which means the residue of mining operations once the valuable minerals have been extracted. I got to learn how the tailings (sand, slimes and water) from the process plant are managed to ensure the environment is protected and that rehabilitation of the local of the mine site can take place.
The BTL internship was undoubtedly the best experience in my life, combining learning and cultural experiences within a mining context and has, in my mind, set a high benchmark for the future of Kenya’s mining industry. The willingness of Base staff to show and explain various operations and processes being applied in their company demonstrates their commitment to ensuring I was able to have the most fulfilling experience. It also demonstrates their commitment to seeing a transfer of skills to Kenyan workers in this new industry. This is an internship programme that looks to develop the participants and deliver real benefits.
Another thing I will not forget is how the General Manager Environment and Community Affairs Collin Forbes could speak Swahili and Digo. To me, this demonstrated a respect to the local community and Kenya more broadly. from this foreign investor.
The experience has left me much better prepared and focused as I pursue my own career in the mining industry – hopefully one day as a full-time employee with Base.
I hope that Kenya is able to attract more investors in the mining industry that so openly look to share their expertise and experience with young Kenyans
Hussein Joseph –Intern at Base Titanium Limited