Mining sector records 51 fatalities

Friday, January 24, 2020

The mining sector has recorded 51 fatalities in 2019, the lowest ever recorded in the South African mining industry.

“This represents a 37% improvement, year on year, compared to 2018 fatalities,” said Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe at a media briefing on the release of the 2019 mine health and safety statistics on Friday.

The record comes as the mining sector marks the 60th anniversary of the Coalbrook mining disaster, which saw 435 mineworkers lose their lives on 21 January 1960.

“This record is as a result of a concerted effort by all involved. The health and safety campaigns throughout the year have demonstrated that significant improvements in results can be achieved.

“We, therefore, commend the collective efforts which have gotten us here,” said the Minister.

Looking at the fatalities per commodity in 2019, the gold sector recorded 19 fatalities as compared to 40 in 2018, a year on year improvement of 53%.

In platinum, 19 fatalities were recorded as compared to 12 in 2018 - an increase of 58% for the sector.

Other mines, which include diamonds, chrome, copper, zinc, sand, lime, granite, manganese, nickel and bricks, recorded six deaths as compared to 20 in 2018. This marks an improvement of 70% for the sector.

Occupational injuries

A total of 2 406 injuries were reported in 2019 compared to 2 447 reported during 2018, translating to a 2% decrease year on year.

“Most of these injuries are mainly a result of repeat accidents categorised as a fall of ground transportation and mining and general types of accidents,” Mantashe said.

Medical deaths due to occupational diseases

According to the department, the number of Annual Medical Reports (AMRs) submitted increased slightly by 2.46% from 975 reports in 2017 to 999 reports in 2018.

On medical deaths, the sector saw an increase in fatalities reported due to occupational diseases, as compared to the previous year.

“A total number of 25 more cases were reported by gold mines from 17 cases to 42; while platinum mines showed a decrease from seven cases to three cases.

“Two cases were reported by coal mines when compared to one case in 2017,” said Mantashe.

Occupational Diseases

With regard to occupational diseases, the mining sector saw a decline of 22.86% from 4 483 in 2017 to 3 458 in 2018.

Silicosis cases decreased by 28.68 % from 652 cases in 2017 to 465 in 2018.

Pulmonary Tuberculosis cases decreased by 23.63% from 2 247 cases in 2017 to 1 716 in 2018.

Noise-induced hearing loss cases decreased by 22.34% from 1141 cases in 2017 to 886 in 2018. –