South Africa’s newly elected President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in his inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA) decried deaths in the mining industry and brought the spotlight to the issue of safety in the sector. “We are extremely concerned about the rise in mining fatalities last year. We call on mining companies to work together with all stakeholders to ensure that mine accidents are dramatically reduced. One mining fatality is one too many,” he said. The mining sector had 88 fatalities in 2017.

Ramaphosa’s declaration follows weeks of accidents, mainly at Sibanye-Stillwater mines. Two employees died after they were trapped underground in a fall of ground incident at Kloof mine on the West Rand, with two other miners killed at Sibanye’s Driefontein mine. The latest fatality at Driefontein came a day after the SONA. Meanwhile, more 1000 workers were trapped overnight at Sibanye’s Beatrix operations after a power failure in the beginning of February.

Following the latest fatality at Driefontein mine, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has called for a Mine Safety Summit to ensure mining companies prioritise safety. “AMCU is calling on the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Mosebenzi Zwane, to urgently call a Mine Safety Summit so that this shocking trend can be discussed further. AMCU has consistently pointed out that there are certain regulatory shortcomings regarding health and safety standards at mines.  AMCU has previously demanded that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) steps up its game in setting regulations and ensuring compliance by the mining houses,” the union said in a statement. AMCU is also on record that the mining houses in general, and Sibanye-Stillwater in particular, are not directing sufficient financial resources   addressing precautionary measures to avoid accidents, as well as contingency plans to deal with the resultant fall-out when accidents do occur.

 

19 February 2018 by Trust Matsilele