13 February 2014

South Africa: Govt Moves to Ensure Safer Mines

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu says her department will work with stakeholders in the mining sector to consider effective measures that will improve the health and safety of mineworkers.

"One death is one too many. A quantum leap in commitment is needed to stem the tide of fatalities and to make our mines safer and healthier.

"The Chief Inspector of Mines has issued a directive for all the mines to be more vigilant and implement measures that will safeguard the lives of workers," Shabangu said on Wednesday.

Shabangu said her department, which regulates the mining industry, will also monitor compliance and collaborate with all the stakeholders during the ensuing health and safety campaigns.

She was speaking at the memorial service for nine miners who died at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine on the West Rand last week. The miners died following a fire after a seismic event and rock-fall that damaged electric cables at the mine.

"Their lives cannot be lost in vain. We must get to the core of what transpired here and led to this tragic event."

The department has launched an investigation. An inquiry will also be held into this tragedy, to ensure that the accident is not repeated, the minister said.

The mine has been issued with a Section 54 instruction to stop mining operations until all the effective measures are implemented in making the mine safe.

Acknowledging the industry as a backbone of the country's economy and a major provider of employment, Shabangu said these contributions to development have always been over-shadowed by the continued loss of life, occupational diseases and injuries.

She said there was a need to effectively implement existing research outcomes, whilst continuing with further research to protect the lives of mineworkers.

"It is important to also ensure that we learn from the past to prevent recurring accidents and take mining into the future."

Shabangu said her department has been intolerant on mines that are not complying with the legal provisions, and has intensified the use of Section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act, amongst other enforcement tools.

"We have been stopping unsafe mines as we believe that every worker, like the managers, has a right to return home to his family after every shift at the mine. Hence, the department has adopted the fundamental stance that if mines cannot mine safely, then they should not mine at all until the necessary measures have been put in place to protect the lives of all mineworkers."

Harmony Gold chairperson Patrice Motsepe has pledged R75 000 towards the education of each child of the nine miners who died.

Motsepe made the pledge at the memorial service.

South Africa
First African Woman Banished in Apartheid Honoured

Makwena Matlala, the first African woman banished by the apartheid regime, is being honoured on Monday. see more »

Copyright © 2014 SAnews.gov.za. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.