The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has been calling for more measures in the mining space to ensure safety of workers. Earlier in the year, the union went even further demanding a Safety Summit to discuss safety concerns in this sector.

The calls have fallen on deaf ears, receiving muted response from both the government and mining bosses.

Sibanye-Stillwater’s latest operating update demonstrates this worrying trend that has seen mines being turned into graveyards.

In its quarterly update ending 31 March 2018, the company reports that “compared to the same period last year, safety lagging indicators in the South Africa region showed a 4% regression (3.43 March quarter 2017 vs 3.58 March quarter 2018) in terms of the Serious Injury Frequency Rate.

Ironically, during the same period, the company reported “an encouraging 7% improvement (5.84 March quarter 2017 vs 5.46 March quarter 2018) in the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (both measured per million hours”.

This irony of the company seeing improved Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate at the same time when safety indicators are regressing is indicative of what AMCU’s President, Joseph Mathunjwa, always decries – putting profit before people.

During this quarter; Solly Ngobeni, Chicco Dube, Matela Mating, Zanempi Mncwazi, Otshepeng Ramosito and Ntokozo Ntame died in Sibanye-Stillwater mines largely due to fall of ground incidences.

In the same quarter, Sibanye’s South Africa’s Platinum Group Metals operations delivered what the company described as “operational gains, with significantly improved unit cost performance resulting in positive cash flow.”

The mining company concedes that more should be done.

“We have intensified our safety efforts, embarking on a Safety Culture Transformation Process, which is aimed at achieving an improved and sustainable safety performance, similar to that being achieved at our US PGM operations,” says Sibanye through a SENS statement.

Until government imposes more punitive measures on companies that ignore safety standards, more senseless deaths will continue happening.

How many mining workers’ lives should be lost before we can see stern action from mining companies and government?

 

4 May 2018 by Trust Matsilele