Booking bosses for mining deaths will bury the industry, says Mantashe

accreditation

Criminal charges cannot be a formula to deal with fatalities in mines, and the issue cannot be dealt with emotionally, or the industry will be crippled, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has said.

His remarks followed strong criticism from Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president Joseph Mathunjwa, who had called for more punitive measures in response to mining fatalities.

Mantashe was speaking during a briefing in Pretoria on Friday morning about mining health and safety statistics for the 2018 calendar year.

Among the statistics that the Department of Mineral Resources announced at the briefing was an overall decrease in fatalities across all mine categories from 2017 and 2018, with a particularly large increase in the platinum sector.

Chief inspector of mines at the department, David Msiza, announced 81 fatalities in 2018 compared to 90 in 2017.

He congratulated to the platinum sector for a "59% improvement in fatalities".

"Over the past 10 years and even 25 years, we agreed as a sector that there can be no improvement if we don’t work together. The measures introduced have allowed for a 90% improvement in the past 25 years," said Msiza.

Overall improvement – but nothing to celebrate

Msiza said the industry was reporting an overall improvement in terms of injuries and diseases, but said it was a matter of genuine concern that mines were still losing lives.

Solidarity secretary for occupational health and safety, Paul Maree, said it was a positive development that there were fewer fatalities, 81 deaths was nothing to celebrate.

Mathunjwa echoed these sentiments, calling for a harsh crackdown on mine management where deaths occurred.

"As AMCU there is nothing that we can admire or celebrate.

"If our workers are not being killed, they are being injured permanently. We must amend mining safety legislation to ensure that if any mining boss kills workers, they get arrested. Simple as that," said Mathunjwa.

In response, Mantashe said responding emotionally to mining fatalities would result in actions that would ultimately cripple the industry, at the expense of workers and the economy.

"I have seen my fair share of mining disasters. "They have given me an appreciation that mine fatalities should not be handled with emotions.

"If we handle them that way, the industry will be set alight. We must deal with fatalities, analyse the reports and act decisively," Mantashe said.

He said amending the Mine Health and Safety Act to allow mining bosses whose mining operations had fatalities sounded like just, but would be impractical.

"Criminal charges cannot be a formula to deal with fatalities.

"Where a manager is negligent there must be charges, but if there is an arrest every single time a person is injured or dies there will be no one left to run the industry," said Mantashe.

Mantashe said of the reported fatalities, 40 were in gold mining, warning the sub-sector that health and safety regulations must be adhered to, regardless of the financial state of the industry.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
14.59
-0.0%
Rand - Pound
20.30
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.34
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.73
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Gold
1,814.19
0.0%
Silver
25.49
0.0%
Palladium
2,662.50
0.0%
Platinum
1,051.86
0.0%
Brent Crude
75.41
+0.4%
Top 40
62,852
-0.9%
All Share
68,971
-0.9%
Resource 10
70,683
-2.0%
Industrial 25
88,051
-0.4%
Financial 15
12,906
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
In light of the recent looting, do you think a basic income grant is the right approach to deal with SA’s hunger and poverty problems?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It will go a long way in helping fight the symptoms of SA’s entrenched inequality, especially for those who are starving right now
20% - 1492 votes
SA’s problems are complex, and we instead need to spend that money on building and growing our economy, which will help the country in the long run
31% - 2310 votes
All grants are a problem as they foster a reliance on handouts
49% - 3652 votes
Vote