49 fatalities recorded in mining industry

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The mining industry has recorded the lowest number of fatalities on record during 2022.

This was revealed by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, on Tuesday during the release of the Mine Health and Safety Performance Report 2022.

The industry recorded 49 fatalities last year – down from 74 in 2021 and 60 in 2020.

Some 2 056 injuries were recorded, down from 2 143 in 2021, with no machinery related fatalities and no mine disasters reported.

Mantashe said although the numbers indicate a significant reduction, more needs to be done to reach the Zero Harm target set for the industry.

“It remains a collective duty for all social partners to ensure that our mineworkers return home from work unharmed every day. We are encouraged that our collective efforts continue to show a downward trend in occupational diseases, injuries and fatalities.

“We are improving in fatalities. We are improving in injuries but the numbers remain high. An incident is a pointer that there were potential fatalities, so we must pay more attention to that,” he said.

Mantashe said fall of ground incidents – which have claimed the most lives since large scale mining began in South Africa – have also reduced by some 70%, to six incidents last year.

“It is progress… because gold mines are deep and old and therefore, are beginning to mine the pillars. When you mine those pillars, it means that seismicity becomes prevalent in the industry and fall of ground becomes prevalent.

“So as we improve fall of ground as a source of incidents in the industry, it is something that we must celebrate because it means we do mine pillars and we go back to old areas of mining, but we are careful and we are applying our minds to protect mineworkers from accidents,” he said.

The Minister said the health and safety of mineworkers is imperative for the industry’s sustainability.

“An industry that kills its workers is not sustainable. An industry that protects its workers is sustainable because people who work in that industry begin to have trust in the industry itself. The trust deficit between the industry and its workers is something that we have to be conscious about,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za