SA miners to submit safety reports


South Africa’s department of mineral resources (DMR) will require boards of mining companies to submit reports on health and safety, its director-general told parliament on Thursday.

The move comes against a backdrop of a rise in deaths in South African mines, which are the deepest and among the most dangerous in the world.

The DMR says mineworker deaths have risen over 25% in the first quarter of this year to 38, compared with the same period last year.

The country’s national union of mineworkers (NUM) says 50 miners have died on the job from January through the first two weeks of April.

“Boards of directors will be required to submit quarterly reports on health and safety that include statistics,” Sandile Nogxina, the director-general of the department of mineral resources, said in a presentation of the department’s strategic plan for 2011/12.

Mining companies will also have to “indicate measures that should be taken to prevent occupational diseases and fatalities as well as serious injuries at our mines”, he added.

He did not give a timeframe for when the reports would have to begin.

In some of the recent incidents, a worker was killed in a locomotive accident at Harmony Gold’s Masimong Mine, and two were killed at Gold Fields’ KDC Mine this month.

NUM, which represents about 340 000 workers in the mining, construction and electrical energy industries, has said it will decide on April 28 when to shut the sector down for a day to protest a rise in mining deaths.

Nogxina said, “If mines cannot mine safely, they should not mine at all until effective measures are implemented to safeguard the health and safety of employees.”

South Africa’s Mine Health and Safety Act is also being reviewed, he said. The mine workforce has high rates of tuberculosis and HIV/Aids as well as lung diseases attributed to life underground.

Nogxina also said total employment in the mining sector of Africa’s largest economy reached 498 055 in 2010, a rise of 1,2%, after it fell 5,1% in 2009.