16 October 2017

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is shocked at yet another mining accident after the spate of incidents during the past months.  AMCU sends its sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of the mineworker who perished at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng Mine close to Carletonville in Gauteng.  The Union’s prayers are with the trapped worker and his loved ones, and AMCU also sent its good wishes to the worker still recovering in hospital.

Early Saturday morning there was a fall of ground at Level 116 which resulted in two mineworkers being trapped.  While the one worker has been extracted and is currently recovering from a shoulder injury in hospital, the other worker is still trapped approximately 3 km underground.  Just over two hours later there was another seismic event at Level 120, which unfortunately led to the death of a mineworker.  His body will only be recovered once the trapped worker at Level 116 can be evacuated.

AMCU has raised serious concerns about why the mining bosses did not evacuate the teams after the first seismic event, as it is well-known that these tremors often come in pairs.  AMCU previously criticised mines for their apparent focus on profit over safety.  The fact of the matter is that mining has become a very perilous working environment in our country.  If a mineworker is not one of the thousands affected by the current jobs blood bath due to mass retrenchments, he or she will be regarded as a disposable asset when it comes to health and safety at work.  It seems that these mines have quite literally become a death trap for workers, who risk their lives on a daily basis for the profits of mining houses.

AMCU will participate fully in the upcoming inquiry by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).  In addition to the regular inquiry in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA), AMCU calls for a commission to be set up by the DMR to determine the real causes of these incidents, and whether more could have been done to avoid the consequences.

A similar commission, known as the Leon Commission of Inquiry into Safety and Health in the Mining Industry was set up in the early nineties, and its recommendations of 1994 laid the foundations for many of the health and safety structures and regulations in force today.

This commission must do in-depth research and identify technology to be employed to avoid such incidents in future.  AMCU remains concerned that mining companies are not doing enough to put safety first, and AMCU will continue its campaign towards creating safer and healthier conditions for workers.