/ 4 October 2010

Mining deaths drop by 26%: Solidarity

Mining fatalities in the first nine months of 2010 dropped by about 26% compared to the same period in 2009, trade union Solidarity said on Monday.

“The number of mining fatalities reached 97 this week after a fatal accident at Simmers & Jack’s Tau Lekoa mine near Klerksdorp last night,” the union said.

This brought the number of mining fatalities this past week to three after an earth tremor led to the death of two workers at Harmony’s Bambanani mine in the Free State.

Meanwhile the so-called “silly season” lay ahead, Solidarity said.

“Mining accidents usually increase sharply over the last two months of the year.”

Mines and mineworkers regarded November and December as a critical period for increasing mine security because this period was notorious for its relaxed safety measures, which could ultimately lead to an increase in the number of mining accidents.

Fatalities drop by three a week
Solidarity said that in 2007, 221 mineworkers — or more than four workers per week — died at the country’s mines.

The figure dropped to 165 by 2009 — or just over three workers per week.

“According to provisional data from the department of mineral resources, 96 workers — or just over two workers per week — have died in the first nine months of 2010, compared to 129 fatalities in the same period last year,” said Paul Mardon, Solidarity’s head of occupational health and safety.

Just under half of this year’s mining fatalities — 46 fatalities –occurred in gold mines, while 24 fatalities were caused by accidents at platinum mines.

“Mines in North West are the deadliest in South Africa,” Mardon said.

“The number of mining fatalities has dropped in seven of the nine provinces compared to last year, but most of the mining fatalities still occurred in North West (34), followed by Gauteng (20) and then the Free State (17).”

The number of mining accidents dropped by 31 percent from 2 613 accidents during January to September 2009 to 1801 accidents in the same period this year.

Mardon said 54% of this year’s accidents occurred in North West. — Sapa