Harmony fatalities down from previous year

South Africa’s third-largest gold-miner, Harmony Gold, experienced 29 fatalities during its 2005 financial year, from 42 in the previous year, Harmony spokesperson Vusi Magadana said on Monday.

The group’s best fatality record was 25 fatalities, achieved in the group’s 2003 and 2001 years.

The group’s fatality rate fell to 0,21 fatalities per million man-hours worked during the 2005 year, which was a record low, and a 24% decrease on the previous year’s 0,27 fatalities per million man-hours worked.

In the company’s 2002 year, the fatality injury rate per million hours worked peaked at 0,37 fatalities per million man-hours.

“Harmony’s approach to safety is unyielding,” Harmony said in a statement.

“Bad safety and unacceptable risk to employees played a significant role in our decision to close our two most unsafe mines, Deelkraal and Saaiplaas number three shaft,” said Harmony chief executive Bernard Swanepoel in a statement.

“We continue to plan for zero fatalities and believe that this is an achievable target. In the interim, it is pleasing to see that our safety initiatives are having an increasing impact in improving working conditions in our mines,” he added.

Harmony’s “safety dream” is to reduce its fatality rate to zero by June 30 2006 and reduce its lost-time injury rate by 40% by June 2006.

The company is also seeking to reduce any new silicosis cases by 50% by 2008, which is in tandem with the targets set by the South African government and agreed to by all Chamber of Mines members at a recent mine health and safety conference for industry executives.

The group is also looking to reduce noise-induced hearing loss by 50% by 2008.

Another goal is to provide a world-class safety service to all Harmony operations within the company by July next year.

The reduction in shift losses due to safety improvements in the group’s 2005 year was calculated to have produced a saving of more than 87-million in associated costs, Harmony said.

“At Harmony, we continue to prove to ourselves that a fatality-free working environment is possible. In the past 12 months, 10 of Harmony’s shafts were fatality-free,” the group said.

The fatality-free shafts during the period were Merriespruit 3, Kalgold, Joel, Phakisa, Brand 3, Unisel, Evander 8, Evander 2, St Helena and Cooke 1.

The Merriespruit 3 shaft has seen more than six years of no fatalities, the Kalgold mine more than four years of no fatalities, and the Brand 3, Unisel mine and Joel mine more than three years of no fatalities.

On June 24 this year, Harmony’s Joel mine achieved one million fatality-free shifts after three years, four months and 26 days, the company said.—I-Net Bridge

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