Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has appealed for extra caution to be taken regarding health and safety in South Africa’s mines.
“We are concerned about the accidents we are seeing in the industry and need to emphasise the importance of safety for mine employees. As we head towards the last quarter of the year, we are asking that employers and the workforce remain alert and continue to prioritise safety, and as the regulator we will be increasing inspections,” says Zwane.
This follows a fall of ground accident at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine over the weekend, where three employees have unfortunately lost their lives.
“We continue to engage with business and labour unions to look at how we can together ensure that the positive strides we have made on health and safety are not reversed,” says Zwane.Seven workers were trapped underground after a seismic event led to the fall of ground. Two of the employees escaped with minor injuries.
The Chamber of Mines extends its heartfelt sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of the three employees who died in a fall of ground accident at Harmony’s Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville, and to the families, friends and colleagues of the two employees who remain trapped underground.
“Our thoughts are with those who were involved in the incident,” says Chamber of Mines president, Mxolisi Mgojo.
“We commend Harmony’s commitment to the search and rescue activities, and to the collaboration between the Department of Mineral Resources and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union that has made his possible.
“We also thank those who have and continue to work tirelessly to reach their colleagues since the incident occurred, including the volunteer members of Mine Rescue Services who have come from all parts of South Africa.”
Notwithstanding the fact that South Africa is known to have the world’s deepest mines (as deep as 4 000 metres below surface in some cases) which is challenging and brings with it associated risks and hazards, there has been a sustained reduction in the number of fatalities and fall of ground incidents.
Since 1994, the number of fatalities in the industry declined by around 88%, while fatalities as a result of fall of ground incidents declined by 92% over the same period.
The industry remains committed to achieve the collective aim – between mining companies, unions and government – of Zero Harm, ensuring that that every single mining employee returns home, safe and unharmed, from work at the end of every day.
Feature image credit: Department of Mineral Resources