A recently released report points to the period of July to December 2017 as a profitable one for Impala Platinum Holdings, with one of the world’s leading platinum producers reporting a gross profit of R733 million. While this is good news for shareholders and Implats bosses, the same cannot be said for the families of six people who died at the company’s various operations.

Four of the fatalities were a result of a Fall of Ground (FOG). The fifth fatality was a result of an mobile equipment incident.

Addressing the fatalities through its Johannesburg Securities Exchange news statement, the company said, “Regrettably, five employees at Impala Rustenburg and one at Marula suffered fatal injuries at our operations during the six months ended 31 December 2017.” The mining company reported another fatality last January in Rustenburg after the reporting period.

No life is worth the precious metals being mined: AMCU

Responding to these fatalities AMCU’s National Health and Safety Officer, Mathew Grant, said “As AMCU National Health and Safety Department, we have deep concern for any worker’s life lost. Whilst our sympathies go out to the families of the deceased, we say to Implats management: No life is worth the precious metals being mined.”

“We cannot and will not share celebration of profits when workers are being killed while doing their jobs. Moreover, Impala instituted Section 189 (LRA) process, destroying 1400 jobs – what Implats calls ‘restructuring’. They blame the ‘price environment’ for job losses. They do this to maintain their business, which means profits for shareholders,” he added.

Grant also said, “Fatal accidents in the mining industry are not simply ‘human error’ – meaning workers are to blame. No. Careful analysis and research of fatal accidents shows that in the platinum industry, systematic factors (such as inadequate leadership) rather that human error is to blame for fatal accidents. Time after time, mine management focuses on the fault of the worker and takes for granted the context and environment in which they perform their work.”

Companies should provide safest environment possible

AMCU said the best way to prevent fatalities in mining was to provide workers with the safest environment possible, updated and state-of-the-art training, competent and effective leadership and supervision, with a focus on health and safety instead of production.

“Last year brought an increase in fatalities, according to the Department of Mineral Resources, for the first time in 10 years parallel with a slew of Section 189s in the industry, cutting jobs. The sword of fatalities hangs over the South African mining industry and will not disappear unless the lives of mineworkers truly and actually comes before profit,” added Grant.

 

9 March 2018 by Trust Matsilele