15 February 2018

As shareholders in mining companies relish in dividends, the story that goes underreported in the media is how lives are lost in pursuit of profit. This confirms the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (AMCU) concern that capitalists put profits ahead of the safety of miners; the nature of news cycles, which leans towards only writing about breaking news, makes the media complicit in the slaughter of our people in the name of production and profits.

Yesterday, Gold Fields released its financial results for the year that ended on 31 December 2017: Shareholders are set to receive 90 South African cents per share. While these returns are part of the current news cycle, there are no stories about fatalities at Gold Fields mines. In their year of good returns, two miners died at Gold Field’s South Deep operation, and two Fall of Ground accidents reported.

To the company, this is an improvement as fatalities regressed from 0.02 percent in 2016, to 0.05 in 2017.

This regression does not mean much because all workers’ lives matter, be it three or 950 people. And like all mining companies, Gold Fields needs to invest in the safety of their workers, so their dividends and profits are not earned with the blood of workers.

As shareholders smile their way to the bank, it is important to remember that today, they will be paid dividends that came because of miners who continue to work under unsafe and sometimes fatal conditions.