Mineral Resources minister, Ms Susan Shabangu today, 9 July 2012 convened a special meeting of Mining Industry Growth Development and Employment Task Team (MIGDETT) (Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), Chamber of Mines, South African Mining Development Association (SAMDA) and organised labour) Principals to discuss the report of the Task team constituted to investigate the alleged inconsistencies on the application of Section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act.
The meeting discussed the Task Team recommendations which are:
The Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate and Mineral Policy and Promotion at the DMR workshops the mining industry on:
The provisions of the Mine Health and Safety Act, especially sections that deals with enforcement matters.
The application of the Enforcement Guideline, especially the form DMR 235.
The Enforcement Guideline shall be reviewed as agreed at the summit in 2011.
Continuous training programme must be implemented for the Inspectorate and to be aligned with the revised Enforcement Guideline and there must be a clear guidance for the Inspectors if they have to take a decision of whether to stop operations at one shaft or all the shafts of a particular mine.
A relation-building exercise through tripartite forums and joint problem solving intervention between managers and regional MHSI officers shall be implemented, starting with North West, Free State and Gauteng Provinces through regional tripartite forums.
Section 54 instructions should be a standing agenda item of the Mine Health and Safety Council Board meetings.
Joint stakeholders' workshop should be conducted at certain intervals to evaluate the impact of section 54 Instructions issued, and not wait for a crisis, and
The findings of this task team to be communicated to the public through a media statement by the principals upon their approval.
Roll out of an awareness campaign targeting the general mine workers on the Section 54 instructions issued at mines.
The meeting adopted the recommendations and agreed that the implementation plan should be drafted and the process driven through the Mine Health and Safety Council with regular feedback to the MIGDETT Principals.
"As the regulator we are very much pleased that all stakeholders have found common ground on the issue, and there is general consensus that there are challenges and there is a need for best practice to be drawn from incidents as we work towards the commitment of zero harm", said Minister Shabangu.
It was furthermore agreed that an independent expert would be appointed to help deal with the challenges that may be experienced during the implementation of the above recommendations. The Mine Health and Safety council will draft terms of reference for the expert and stakeholders will still need to agree on them.
The meeting further agreed that the recommendations be expediently implemented with very strict timeframes as fatalities can no longer be tolerated by the sector.
Furthermore the meeting agreed that there should be consistent communication of the application of section 54 notices not just at management level in the sector but to the broad sector workforce.
The meeting also noted with concern reckless comments made by some in the industry including legal commentators who claim to be articulating views held by MIGDETT stakeholders and have no mandate to do so. MIGDETT is calling for such people to refrain from such as their comments contribute negatively to the efforts of positioning the South African mining industry as a preferred mining jurisdiction for investors.
- Department of Mineral Resources