Jitendra Mishra believes there is a bright future for mining in Africa. Despite challenges in the sector, he thinks more advanced technologies and processes will revitalise the industry.
And with over a decade of experience in process engineering with large multinationals in Southern Africa, Western Africa, and Asia, he knows what he is talking about.
About ten years ago, Jitendra Mishra was working in India as a process engineer at the second largest, low-cost Pb-Zn (copper, lead, zinc) producer in the world. It was a good life and came with some attractive benefits. But he realised he was no longer growing and that he needed to break out of his comfort zone. “I have learnt from that, that what I need to do in life is to learn.”
After completing his M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from UCT, he accepted a job offer with another company and moved to South Africa, eventually rising to the position of Project Manager at DRA Global, a multi-disciplinary engineering group delivering mining, mineral processing, energy water treatment and infrastructure services. His specialisation is in designing and building mineral processing plants - where the ore or metal is extracted from the mined source and processed - which can include grinding, crushing or flotation techniques.
“We get to analyse lots of data, which I really enjoy,” says Jitendra. “I am the kind of person who likes to play with data.” Where some see problems, Jitendra sees solutions. He says numbers tell a story and he loves that every day he gets to come up with new solutions. “Every mine has its own set of complexities, from factors related to environmental issues, impurities or technical issues.” The trick is, he says, is to identify potential problems in the building stage to prevent more costly interventions later on.
His job used to be engineering consulting but since doing his MBA at UCT’s Graduate School of Business (GSB), his progressive position has become more managerial and analytical, enabling him to get involved with strategic planning.
Jitendra says as an engineer, he was trained to think there was only one way of doing things, but he has become more accepting of other people’s opinions as well as more adaptable in certain situations. “One thing that I can really say about my MBA studies is that it taught me to be less rigid in my thinking and more open to other points of view,” he says with a smile.
“Doing my MBA helped me move into different roles, such as project management and Pre-feasibility, feasibility study work; for instance investigating the viability of certain mining projects.” While he does not know exactly what the future holds for him, he knows it will be related to his current field as well as mining.
“I am fairly sure mining won’t go away. We need mining for infrastructure development, energy and product manufacturing. All of these resources are found in Africa, on this continent, and many countries are coming here to do business.” He says many countries in Africa are booming economically and while some resources may run out, Jitendra believes that new sites will be discovered, with better technologies increasingly enabling companies to extract minerals more effectively - and more affordably - in future.
He also believes in the value of education. He credits his interest in engineering and science to a wonderful teacher he had in high school, someone he still keeps in touch with and speaks to about once a week, even though the teacher has gone on to become a high court judge in India. “I think we inspired each other to keep on studying and learning and that has been a definitive aspect of my life.”
Find out more about the MBA programme at the UCT Graduate school of Business here