At the end of 2017, headlines announced that for the first time in a decade, the mining death toll in South Africa had risen.
By March 2018, the death toll for the year had risen to 22 and by May it reached over 30.
The spike to 33 follows 13 miners being trapped in Sibanye-Stillwater’s Driefontein mine in Carletonville Gauteng, after a seismic event, seven miners died, another six were injured.
Eusebius McKaiser spoke to Head of Safety and Sustainable Development, The Minerals Council South Africa Dr Sizwe Phakathi and National Head for Health and Safety at National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Mzwakhe Nhlapo about the safety of South African mines.
Phakathi says the Mineral Council South Africa is committed to the goal of zero harm and seek to ensure that every mineworker returns home unharmed.
I have to also emphasise that we do recognise the devastating impact of fatalities and injury on all employees and their loved ones.— Dr Sizwe Phakathi, Head of Safety and Sustainable Development, The Minerals Council South Africa
I can share with you that we are equally concerned just like any other stakeholder about our state of occupational safety in our industry.— Dr Sizwe Phakathi, Head of Safety and Sustainable Development, The Minerals Council South Africa
He adds that 2017 has been a disappointing year in the fact that there was a regression for the first time in 10 years.
Nhlapo says in presenting the numbers is that NUM must always bear in mind that these numbers are not just simply mathematical numbers.
These are actually heads of families, they are brothers, sisters this is a person attached to a certain family, who come to the mines to provide their skills and not their limbs.— Mzwakhe Nhlapo, National Head for Health and Safety at NUM
One death is one too many. Once you kill one mineworker, you are actually subjecting potentially about five dependents that are dependants who depend on that mineworker. Therefore the situation cannot be correct and cannot be acceptable.— Mzwakhe Nhlapo, National Head for Health and Safety at NUM
Listen below to the full interview about the state of South African mines...