/ 21 May 2010

SA mine fatalities a concern, says minister

Mining Minister Susan Shabangu said on Friday she was “very concerned” about recent mine deaths and would continue to order shutdowns in the world’s top platinum and major gold producer to curb fatalities.

South Africa’s government has imposed partial or total mine closures as it moves to curb deaths in the key economic sector, further reducing output in mining, which has been hard hit by a global economic downturn and lower demand.

“I am deeply concerned about the latest spate of fatalities in which six employees died due to falls of ground and a blasting accident within the first week of May,” Shabangu told Parliament.

Forty-five miners have died so far this year, compared with 57 fatalities over the same period last year.

The mining companies that have had the most fatalities since the beginning of the year are Anglogold Ashanti, Harmony Gold Mines, Simmers and Jack, Anglo Platinum, and Goldfields.

The major causes of deaths in South African mines, which rank among the world’s deepest, are rockfalls, transportation and machinery accidents, Shabangu said.

“In dealing with these pressing occupational safety challenges, my department will continue … the sustained issuing of instructions for stopping either sections of a mine or even the entire mine where necessary,” Shabangu said. — Reuters