The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), together with the Minerals Council of South Africa and other industry stakeholders, have committed to striving for zero fatalities and injuries in the mining sector.
This comes days after the department announced that it is conducting investigations into two fatal mining incidents at the Impala Platinum Mine in Rustenburg.
In a joint statement, industry stakeholders led by the department noted the increase in the amount of fatalities due to mining accidents over the past year.
“The urgency of interventions to address health and safety and, more specifically, the continued loss of life of the employees in the mining sector cannot be understated. The industry is concerned and shocked by the deaths of 69 people so far this year compared to 48 in the same period last year.
“This is the second consecutive year of regression in fatalities and the industry’s stakeholders have committed to urgently address the unacceptable situation,” the statement read.
There were at least 60 in the mining industry last year – a jump from 51 in 2019.
The industry stakeholders said to address the growing number of fatalities, all role players would be taking “full accountability in addressing the challenges besetting” the industry.
“Work is already underway to address falls of ground and transport-related accidents which are the leading sources of fatalities”.
The industry stakeholders said steps to address those challenges include:
Treating all employees with respect, trust and dignity.
Adoption of safety leading practices such as collision prevention systems.
Adoption of production technologies like faster rock-drills to shorten the mining cycle.
A priority action to promote the COVID-19 vaccinations to support the physical and mental health of employees and reduce the disruptions to operations, both of which will enable all stakeholders to have a renewed focus on occupational safety.
The implementation of the five-year R46 million investment on the implementation of Fall of Ground action plan launched at the Minerals Council’s National Day of Health and Safety in Mining held in July 2021.
Implementation of a holistic, risk-phased plan on collision-prevention systems with ecosystem readiness for industry-wide adoption by December 2023.
Adoption of safe mining practices including the use of safe equipment to favourably respond to the divergent challenges experienced by some mining operations.
Conducting a statistical analysis of all fatalities over the last decade using international leading practice methodologies and proposing an action plan to eliminate all other risks effectively through for example modern training methods.
Urgent implementation of an independent assessment study of the Culture Transformation Framework (CTF) priority pillars by the Mine Health and Safety Council.
Transformation of health and safety culture should focus, amongst others, on health and safety campaigns, visible felt leadership, zero tolerance to unsafe behaviour, extra vigilance by all workers.
Ensure that there are adequate consultations at the mine level. These interactions between management, unions and employees will aid in determining effective measures to enhance health and safety.