/ 11 September 2007

NUM says it may strike over safety

South Africa’s biggest mining union said on Monday it may strike to force mining companies to focus on the safety of workers, following a spate of recent deaths at mines.

About 200 miners are killed in accidents at South African mines every year, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni said.

”The fatalities and deaths at mines cannot be tolerated any longer,” Baleni said.

”We can go on strike if it means it is the only way to stop these needless deaths, but we have not taken this decision yet.”

Baleni said the 300 000-strong NUM would be holding meetings later this week to discuss the issue of safety and accidents.

He said among other things companies needed to invest in seismic detection technology to warn miners of impending tremors, and reinforce loose ground inside mines after blasting.

In the most recent fatality a miner was found dead and operations were briefly halted at number five shaft at Driefontein mine, Gold Fields’ biggest mine last week. The miner had been working 3 000m below the surface when a tremor measuring 1,5 on the Richter scale occurred. – Reuters