Unsafe mines will be stopped: Shabangu

By Drum Digital
20 March 2012

The government will continue to clamp down on unsafe working conditions in the mining sector, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Tuesday.

Most mine accidents and deaths happened at the major gold and platinum producers, she said in Pretoria.

"The department will continue with the stance of stopping unsafe working areas or mines to ensure that employers take measures that will prevent harm to mine employees," she told reporters.

Shabangu acknowledged mine fatalities had significantly dropped since 1994, and said there were 123 mining fatalities in 2011 compared to 127 in 2010.

The minister said the mining sector had complained about the way her department had put into effect section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act.

"To address this matter, government and its social partners have established a task team to investigate the industry's concerns," she said.

Investigations had revealed that some mine fatalities were a result of gross negligence by mines which had government certificates of competency.

"In order to address the above concern, and in line with our legislation that provides for the suspension or cancellation of certificates of competency, we are now drafting guidelines that will be finalised in April," said Shabangu.

Although the government wanted so see the growth and development of the mining sector, this should not be at the expense of people's lives.

She decried the lack of improvement in miners' health. The ailments noted were mainly noise-induced hearing loss and silicosis diseases, which further predisposed miners to tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, she said.

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