The insufficient care for and maintenance of mines and shafts contribute heavily to the massive decline in both production and employment, says Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
According to recent data corroborated by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), mining production increased by 3.1% year-on-year in February 2018, indicating a recovery from previous periods. However, this growth was reversed by the 8.4% plunge in mining production in March, which was a result of the serious downturn of -18% in gold, -8,9% in iron ore and -6,1% in platinum group metals (PGMs).
“Our mineral wealth must be exploited, not left unused, if we are to generate economic growth and impact on the development of society,” Mantashe said.
The Minister on Wednesday addressed the Annual General Meeting of the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg.
According to the Minister, the Department of Mineral Resources wants to facilitate the regulation of small scale and artisanal mining, with the intention of ensuring that anyone operating outside of this framework is dealt with as a criminal.
“We have been discussing with the Ministry of Police the establishment of a specialised team that has security and technical capacity to tackle this matter,” he said.
The Minister urged the mining sector to pay serious attention to health and safety.
Since the beginning of 2018, a total of 33 mining fatalities have been reported.
“The 2017 calendar year was the first time in 10 years where a regression in the number of fatalities was reported, with the gold sector being the leading contributor. An estimated 30% of the fatalities were from fall of ground and seismic related accidents,” he said.
The Minister said the long-term sustainability of mining is dependant not only on its growth, competitiveness and transformation, but also on the lives of mineworkers. – SAnews.gov.za