Shabangu vows to get tough on non-compliant mines

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Carletonville - Despite the many advances in mining legislation, poor living conditions and general negligence of health issues were still evident in the country's mines, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said at the weekend.

Speaking at an event to mark World Tuberculosis Day on Saturday, Shabangu said although there had been improvements over the years, mine bosses needed to do more to control TB in their mines.

Around 22 000 miners are said to be infected with TB across the country's mines.

"We need technologies [to advance] the lives and also improve the conditions of mine workers, and we also need to continue to ensure research continues within the mining industry for us to develop best practices in our country," Shabangu said.

She said her department was aware that there were still too many mine workers with TB, adding that mining companies needed to further commit themselves to ensuring that the situation gets better. TB was a curable disease and there was no need for anyone to die from it, said the minister.

"Mining companies must ensure that there are adequate treatment regimens administered. Currently, we identified housing as one of the social and structural drivers of HIV, sexually transmitted infections and TB."

She called for the conversion of mine hostels in line with the mining charter, which demands measures be taken to improve the standard of housing in mines, including the upgrade of single sex accommodation to married quarters and promotion of home ownership for employees.

The National Union of Mine Workers said 40% of those who died in the country's mines had TB and urged for drastic measures to be taken to reduce the infection rate.

Gold Fields Chief Executive Nick Holland said his company was currently spending about R100 million a year on devices and treatment of TB.