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Deaths in SA mines increase, industry vows remedial action

The mining industry says it will take steps to address safety. File image.
The mining industry says it will take steps to address safety. File image.
Image: Tyrone Arthur

After mining fatalities increased for two successive years, the industry has pledged to take steps to improve safety.

By December 13 this year, 72 miners had died, the Minerals Council SA (MCSA) said on Monday.

In 2020 the industry had 60 fatalities, compared to 51 the previous year.

“We know 72 is not just a number or a statistic. These are people, families, relatives, friends and colleagues. The impact of every fatality is well understood,” said Themba Mkhwanazi, chair of the council’s CEO Zero Harm Forum.

“As CEOs, we are called upon to show leadership. We have the influence and the authority to stop this. We do not want to be known as the industry where people come to work and die.”

MCSA president Nolitha Fakude said: “It’s a dark year-end period for everyone in the industry.

“It is sad to realise as we come to the end of 2021, as people prepare to go home, that for many families, colleagues and friends, this will be a period of sadness because of the loss of people dying at work.”

The MCSA board, comprising 29 mining company CEOs, met on Friday to agree on short-term measures member companies would adopt and implement to prevent fatal incidents.

Eight interventions were agreed:

  • increased visible leadership presence at mining operations;
  • stopping unauthorised and uncontrolled access to old mining areas not routinely mined and conducting risk assessments and implementing controls where work in previously mined areas is routinely undertaken;
  • quality and scheduled maintenance programmes instead of opportunistic and ad hoc maintenance arising from production pressures;
  • deploying competent and skilled employees in high-risk areas to provide adequate supervision, oversight and risk assessment;
  • undertaking quality and scheduled critical-controls monitoring and assurances to prevent falls of ground (FOG), transport-related accidents and inundation of working areas;
  • ensuring that incentives and bonuses for miners do not compromise their rights to stop or refuse unsafe work;
  • implementing sufficient fatigue breaks and monitoring; and
  • conducting phased onboarding after the holiday period of employees to ensure they are in sound physical and mental health.



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