Source: Business Day
Nearly 12% of the South African workforce spent more than 60 hours a week on the job. This is despite SA’s labour laws prohibiting more than 45 hours a week.
Mining and retail are the two sectors in which you are likely to work the hardest in SA‚ according to a composite review of professions around the world.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) says of the almost 50 countries sampled‚ SA was the fifth hardest working country with workers spending an average of 43.3 hours a week on the job. Looking only at jobs in the formal sectors‚ the OECD found the mining industry to be in the lead with workers putting in an average of 45.3 hours a week.
TimesLIVE spoke to Desire Mokoena‚ a mine production planner from Mpumalanga, who said mineworkers‚ particularly those in production‚ worked 12-hour shifts‚ mostly six days a week. Sharing her perspective from a woman in mining‚ Mokoena said that while the career could be rewarding‚ it was not always conducive for women.
She gave an example of sanitation for women working underground‚ concerns about personal safety‚ and the physicality of the work.
“As you advance forward [in the mine], you leave the toilets behind. As a woman‚ what are the chances of me having to go back to the [entrance] far away to walk to the bathrooms? It is not safe anymore. There are illegal miners underground so anything can happen. So normally the women would find a corner at the pillars and just relieve themselves … It is dark‚ no one can see you‚ but it is unhygienic‚” she said‚ adding there were no breaks in between the shifts.
Ten hours were spent on labour while the other two hours were spent travelling to and from the operations site underground.
“Underground‚ a lot of things need manpower. You pull cables‚ get onto a high machine, and remember‚ the ground is not level. They say it’s uncomfortable for women. Other women end up having back problems because of such things‚” said Mokoena.
According to the OECD‚ wholesale and retail came in second with workers clocking in an average of 44.7 hours‚ followed by finance and business services at 43.7, and transport and communication at 43.6 hours.
Lily Kok, who has years of retail experience, said, “Retail is one of the easiest industries to get into after matric. When you’re looking for a job‚ in most cases‚ retail would be the first to welcome you into the working field. So I think that’s the first option that people go for.”
With a six-day work week‚ averaging eight hours a day‚ Kok spends about 48 hours a week at work. Most of these hours are spent on her feet. “The only rewarding thing I would say is seeing your customers happy and pleased with the service you have given them‚” she said‚ suggesting there was not a lot of financial gain with the job.
60 hours a week
The OECD said nearly 12% of the South African workforce spent more than 60 hours a week on the job. This is despite SA’s labour laws prohibiting more than 45 hours a week and no more than 10 hours in overtime.
Quoting research from the Stellenbosch University’s Bureau for Economic Research‚ the OECD said men worked the hardest. “SA’s hardest workers are black men younger than 45 in a semi-skilled occupation and lucky enough to have a permanent job in a country with high unemployment.”
The study said women were more likely to work shorter hours‚ because they “tend to be more educated and work in the professional sector”.
But knocking off from work does not necessarily mean they are over for the day. For many women‚ leaving work means the beginning of another task — housekeeping.
“South African women without a housekeeper spend 183 minutes a day on housework‚ as opposed to 75 minutes for men. Women living with children also spent an average of 87 minutes a day taking care of them‚ compared to men‚ who spent seven minutes‚” the OECD said.
Working hours were shorter in more economically thriving provinces such as Gauteng and the Western Cape. These provinces had a high concentration of highly skilled workers.
According to the report: “The average working hours in these more affluent provinces is affected by migration from other provinces. The Eastern Cape also had some of the lowest working hours‚ but that was because so few people had permanent employment in the impoverished province.”
Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed inventor of Bitcoin, is accused of swindling more than $5-billion worth of the cryptocurrency and other assets from the estate of a computer-security expert.
Wright, who claimed in 2016 that he created the computer-based currency under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, allegedly schemed to use phony contracts and signatures to lay claim to bitcoins mined by colleague Dave Kleiman, another cryptocurrency adherent, who died in 2013, according to a lawsuit filed by Kleiman’s brother.
Kleiman’s family contends they own the rights to more than 1 million Bitcoins and blockchain technologies Kleiman mined and developed during his lifetime and that the assets’ value exceeds $5 billion, according to the Feb. 14 filing in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“Craig forged a series of contracts that purported to transfer Dave’s assets to Craig and/or companies controlled by him,’’ lawyers for Kleiman’s family said in the complaint. “Craig backdated these contracts and forged Dave’s signature on them.’’
Wright, an Australian who lives in London, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the suit, which also accuses the entrepreneur of violating partnership duties to Kleiman and unjustly enriching himself at his colleague’s expense. There is no attorney listed for Wright on the docket.
Wright and Kleiman formed a Florida-based company, W&K Info Defense Research LLC, in 2011 to focus on cybersecurity, according to the court filing. The pair also had earlier worked together on the development of Bitcoin and had extensive mining operations, according to the family’ s lawsuit.
The pair controlled as many as 1.1 million Bitcoins at the time of Kleiman’s death, according to the suit. They were held trusts set up in Singapore, the Seychelles Islands and the U.K., the suit says.
Wright said in a 2016 blog post and interviews that he was the main participant in a team that developed the original Bitcoin software under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. After skeptics questioned the claims, Wright said that he decided not to present any further evidence to prove that he is the creator of Bitcoin.
In the filing, Kleiman’s brother includes what he says is email traffic between himself and Wright in which the entrepreneur indicates he may have been holding 300,000 of Kleiman’s Bitcoins.
Dave “mentioned that you had 1 million Bitcoins in the trust and since you said he has 300,000 as his part,’’ the computer expert’s brother wrote. “I was figuring the other 700,000 is yours,” he added in the email. “Is that correct?”
“Around that,” Wright wrote back. “Minus what was needed for the company’s use.”
The case is Ira Kleiman v. Craig Wright, No. 18-cv-80176, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
For most, an area much smaller than the surface of the planet Earth is considered home. For many, Earth is their favourite planet- as I once heard an astronaut say at an astrobiology conference. But for those few who feel a curiosity, an affinity and indeed a sense of belonging with that overwhelming majority of what is beyond, Earth is but a pale blue dot in a universe of starstuff waiting to be known.
Our increasingly complex use of natural resources is making a strong call for fast-tracked exploration and mining in space. At the turn of the last century, fewer than a dozen materials were in wide use, among them wood, brick, iron, copper, gold, silver, and a few plastics. In contrast, a single modern computer chip uses more than 60 different elements of varying scarcity. Increased societal demand and insufficient recycling of rare resources is putting pressure on local supply chains, which in future could slow down growth and expansion as demand outstrips supply. Most importantly, there is only so much stress our unique biosphere here on Earth can take- all living systems share the same set of finite resources, while human population and associated material needs grows exponentially.
Asteroid mining has been heralded as one of the world’s first multi-trillion dollar industries with the potential to transform the global economy in the 21st century. One near-Earth asteroid that caught the eye of astronomers and prospectors, Anteros, is so packed with rare minerals that it has been valued at $5.57tn, or more than twice the GDP of the entire African continent.
Global innovators reaching for the stars
Leaders in the aerospace industry including Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, among others, are making strides towards initiating an off-Earth economy, and the extraction of resources in space is an essential step towards this future. While bringing asteroid resources back home will contribute to the cost-effectiveness of initial missions, the real potential of asteroid mining is in realising humanity’s next great ambition: the exploration and settlement of space. In combination with technologies such as 3D printing, resources extracted from asteroids can be used to create tools, machines, and even habitats, making crewed space exploration and the establishment of the first extra-terrestrial research settlements feasible.
The most important resource for space exploration is water, which aside from its uses in life support and food cultivation also can be broken up into its constituent parts – hydrogen and oxygen – to create rocket fuel and breathable air. This is an essential step to extending the range of crewed space travel: water currently costs around $50m per tonne to launch into space, so finding and extracting water found in space will essentially turn asteroids into fuel stops for crewed space missions.
A new way of prospecting
In a collaboration with MineRP, SAP Africa participated in a series of co-innovation projects that sought to integrate technical and business planning processes in the mining industry. By broadly grouping the industry into two domains – the science of mining and the business of mining – we jointly developed solutions that overcome the disconnect between technical and financial planning by enabling companies to run fully simulated financing and technical planning scenarios.
We focused on the SHEPHERD asteroid retrieval conceptualisation, a leading contender in terms of mission design which focuses on encapsulating each asteroid for resource utilisation extraction, which is essential for providing protection from loose rubble and dust, capturing volatiles from icy objects, and enabling the use of reactive gasses in processing the asteroid material. Spectral analysis of metals extracted can provide a real-time profit estimate, powered by SAP’s digital core and supported by advanced real-time analytics. By looking at criteria such as the estimated content – type, grade and volume – of an asteroid, as well as the feasibility of its extraction plan and the energy required to enter or exit Earth’s orbit, mining prospectors can make accurate predictions of profitability to ensure no efforts are wasted.
Space mining – and traditional mining – are similarly at a crossroads. Without proper and accurate modelling and simulation, both industries will fail to attract the investment they need to sustain and grow. But by bringing together the science and business of mining through the use of technology, the mining industry can continue to innovate and support humanity’s greatest ambitions.
By Dr Adriana Marais, Head of Innovation at SAP Africa