/ 23 December 2008

Mining deaths down, says trade union

Mining deaths have dropped by 23% despite the absence of a presidential audit report, trade union Solidarity said on Tuesday.

The union said mining fatalities decreased from 221 in 2007, to 168 for 2008, representing a decrease of about 23%.

”This comes despite the fact that the presidential audit report on mining safety, which was commissioned by the president last year, has still not been made available,” Solidarity said.

The union added that it was unlikely the findings of the report could still be regarded as relevant, but it was encouraging that all the role-players in the industry had worked together over the past year and made a considerable effort to make South Africa’s mines safer.

”However, mineworkers must not let their guard down this festive season when it comes to safety because mining deaths always tend to increase during this period,” said Dirk Hermann, deputy general secretary of Solidarity.

If the lower death toll this year could be repeated in the next few years, South Africa would be able to compete with North American and Australian mines by 2013 when it came to safety.

”That would be a big accomplishment, since South African mines are the deepest and therefore also the most dangerous in the world,” Hermann said. — Sapa