The mining industry is acknowledged to be one of the toughest in the world. Add to this fact that it deals with some of the most precious items known to man, and an unrelenting physical environment that continually tests and challenges security systems and equipment. All in all, it provides one of the most unique security challenges in the world.
I started my early working career in the mining industry and subsequently, while doing further studying, frequently worked on those mines on projects and went underground, and have exposure to most of the mining sector commodities. The way that I have seen the South African mining industry responding over the years to such challenges has a number of hallmarks of a world leader and they have driven a great deal of security innovation in the country and even internationally.
The tier system of CCTV was initially developed for the De Beers security environment and has spread throughout the industry and extended beyond it. While there may have been some kind of loose arrangements previously, the format of tiers dedicated to operational, dedicated, and specialist auditing has shaped the ideas of many other surveillance department structures. Early surveillance from the UK involved general monitoring of areas and people.
The emphasis of focused or dedicated surveillance was initiated by a South African mining industry acutely conscious of the rise of syndicates and prospects of significant loss. Faced with the need to identify potential syndicate members and halt the potential for systematic loss, mines appreciated the importance of dedicated surveillance aimed at high risk targets who were seen to be highly suspect.
Similarly, the early surveillance control systems were based on building management systems rather than security. The mining industry has driven the development, customisation and adoption of many of these systems for a specialist security role now used by many different companies in other sectors. I remember having discussions on the potential for remote surveillance as early as the late 1990s in mining operations, a part of the industry that is only now really coming into its stride.
Investigations functions have always been a part of security. But the increase of investigations personnel in security departments and the use of CCTV information has been a major part of mining security approaches for years. What is perhaps slightly disappointing is that with a few exceptions, mining houses have still not truly integrated CCTV and investigation approaches in their operations. The need for confidentiality is part of this, and in some cases specialised CCTV units working closely with investigation departments are seen as a solution, but the potential for CCTV and investigation synergy has not yet been realised. However, I have seen one mining client where the CCTV operation has been used to drive investigations forward with major success and is a model example for other industries.
Our SAMAE selection tool for the identification of personnel with high observation, visual analysis, and detection skills was first implemented in the gold industry, even while in beta version. This was before most surveillance units worldwide had even given some thought to selection, and well before the UK Police Scientific Development Branch had even produced any documentation or guidelines on this. The mines were interested at an early stage in getting high-performance personnel. In fact, one of my mining clients probably has a unit of some of the best personnel I have seen worldwide.
In a study of detection effectiveness, the mining sample came out better than every other sector including retail, town centre and even casino employees. Since the initial introduction into the mining industry, SAMAE components have been used internationally including for the selection of security staff at major UK airports. Our involvement with the mining industry certainly shaped the development of these internationally accepted tools for CCTV operator selection, and the transfer to concepts to X-ray screener selection.
The surveillance skills and body language course I deliver was initially developed with the mining and casinos in mind, two leading security sectors. With the inherent risk in dealing with high value commodities, both of these sectors pay particular attention to training and detection skills. While we tend to automatically think of casinos as world leaders in surveillance and trained personnel, the mining industry tends to be the Cinderella. However, I have probably trained more personnel in the mining industry than any other, and the returns from training in the mining industry outstrip anything anywhere in terms of savings from the detection of theft. I have seen literally millions of Rands in returns from CCTV and security training in the mining industry and it is a performance anybody in the security sector would be proud of.
The mining industry, and particularly diamonds, was one of the first to conduct multi-disciplinary audits of risk and security within mining operations. Unfortunately, this seems to have taken more of a back seat in most operations, but the concepts were well ahead of their time compared to the rest of the industry.
A large part of the security service industry career development has been through the mining experience. For individuals who have been part of the industry, it has been a way of achieving a skill base that has set them on a rapid and sustained career path. For companies that have done work in the mining industry, it gives them an experience base that stands them in good stead. What is remarkable about South African mining industry personnel is also how they have spread through Africa. South Africans are truly represented in security management across the continent and have formed the basis of much of Africa's mining approach to security.
Dr Craig Donald is a human factors specialist in security and CCTV. He is a director of Leaderware which provides instruments for the selection of CCTV operators, X-ray screeners and other security personnel in major operations around the world. He also runs CCTV Surveillance Skills and Body Language, and Advanced Surveillance Body Language courses for CCTV operators, supervisors and managers internationally, and consults on CCTV management. He can be contacted on +27 (0)11 787 7811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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