By Chanel De Bruyn
March 14, 2017 - South African Colliery Management Association (Sacma) president Kevern Mattison has called for a “revolutionary step change” to achieve the mining industry’s goal of achieving ‘zero harm’.
The plea came as Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) acting chief inspector of mines Mthokozisi Zondi on Thursday confirmed a 31% year-on-year increase in the number of fatalities recorded between January 1 and March 6.
Zondi told delegates at the Sacma 2017 CoalSafe conference, in Secunda, Mpumalanga, that there had been 17 fatalities over that period, compared with 13 fatalities in the comparable period of 2016.
The coal sector, which has recorded no fatalities during the same period in 2016, has recorded two fatalities.
Fatalities in the gold sector increased to eight between January and early March, from five in the comparable period of 2016.
Zondi highlighted that the only industry that had recorded any improvements was the platinum sector which had reduced the number of fatalities by 17% to five from six.
“The theme of this year’s CoalSafe conference is ‘Mining with a conscience’ and it is these values that must motivate us as industry leaders to reduce the negative impact that our operations have on the health of our workers, the communities in which we operate and the environment,” Mattison asserted.
Speaking on behalf of Anglo American, Kumba Iron Ore CEO Themba Mkhwanazi said that it was imperative for mining executives to be more concerned about the health and safety of their workers than about production targets as there was no worse feeling than “having blood on one’s hands” owing to the death of an employee.
“It is something I have unfortunately experienced and is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life,” he lamented.
Zondi, meanwhile, also called on miners to reduce the number of employees exposed to noise and airborne pollutants.
“Every mining company has the obligation to provide and maintain working environments that are safe and without risk to the health and safety of their employees to ensure all workers return home safe and healthy every day. This is a goal that the DMR is committed to helping the industry achieve,” Zondi concluded.
Sacma President Kevern Mattison