South Africa: Committee to Look Into Re-Skilling of Mine Workers

A committee has been established to look into the re-skilling of mine workers, the Mine Health and Safety Council said on Tuesday.

The council was briefing the Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy on the implementation of COVID-19-related safety regulations at mines, and on the Department of Mineral Resources' response to non-compliance by mines.

During the briefing, the committee expressed its concern about the job losses in the mining sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee said it was of the view that the Mine Health and Safety Council, together with the Department of Mineral Resources, needs to look into the re-skilling, capacitating and training of mine workers.

The council said a committee has been established that will look into the re-skilling of mine workers, and pointed out that it is still early stages on the matter, but a plan is in place to address the capacitating of mine workers.

Regarding compliance of the mining companies in the provinces, the committee was informed that 161 section 54 instructions (meaning part of the mine or the entire mine has been stopped from operating) have been issued, including section 55 instructions (which are lesser transgressions).

The department and the council informed the committee that they are continuously doing this in terms of the Mine Safety Act.

Committee to deal with issues affecting women

The committee also expressed concern regarding the safety of women in mining and questioned how this issue is being addressed.

The council reported that conducive personal protective equipment is being provided, and an advisory committee has been established to deal with issues affecting women, including, among others, sexual harassment.

The advisory committee will advise the Mine Health and Safety Council, which will then advise the Minister.

Committee Chairperson Tebogo Modise acknowledged the work done by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe in mitigating and managing COVID-19.

"We wish the Minister a speedy recovery, his hard work has led him to be compromised and be infected with the virus. We called on the department to have female representation at top management, as presenters before the committee is dominated by males," Modise said.

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