There is a move in the South African mining industry to specify that welding fabricators and associated suppliers must obtain ISO 3834 welding certification to ensure the quality and safety of the products and services they supply, says industry technical organisation Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) executive director John Tarboton.
The development looks set to become a long-term requirement and is vital for the mining industry's global competitiveness.
“This is a welcome and overdue development given that suppliers to a variety of other safety-critical sectors, including the power, petrochemical and rail industries, have all moved to mandatory ISO 3834 requirements for companies seeking to obtain contracts with them,” he says.
Renewed attention on this form of endorsement stems from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought quality requirements into far sharper focus with a newfound appreciation for the importance of these core facets of manufacture and production and the need to ensure that mining personnel and products are at the correct level, he adds.
“This is vital given that, in terms of current mining health and safety regulations, if there is a safety incident in a mine owing to a weld defect, for example, the mine can be held liable,” Tarboton notes.
Additionally, current global and local financial constraints have seen a move towards cost savings and welding is one of the key areas where producers have been able to initiate cost savings.
This is because the use of ISO-compliant standards and procedures results in an improvement in quality with fewer failures and less downtime and overall lost production revenue, he adds.
“The benefit for ISO 3834 certified fabricators and mining suppliers is that they operate at a globally recognised level, which, in turn, increases their new business opportunities in a far broader range of markets.
"Further, ISO 3834 is an excellent way to develop startups by ensuring their quality management is up to scratch and they can fabricate at a higher level for larger, better-paying clients,” Tarboton highlights.