New mine safety regulations due in SA by 2012

South Africa is looking at revised safety regulations to help tackle rising mine deaths in the world’s top platinum and a major gold producer, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Wednesday.

Output at mines in Africa’s largest economy is regularly hit by work stoppages at mines when fatalities occur and there has been a worrying rise in deaths so far this year.

“I am concerned about the report of the second quarter which indicates an 8% increase in fatalities, which translates to 53 fatalities compared to 49 last year,” Shabangu said.

An official in the ministry said she was talking about the year-to-date compared to the same period last year.

A rise in mine deaths in the first quarter of the year has provoked anger from unions and brought the issue of safety back under the spotlight in South Africa, which has the world’s deepest mines, as well as some of the most dangerous.

The minister said that new safety regulations would likely come into force by 2012.

She also said that mining companies were expected to submit their first set of mining charter compliance reports by the end of this month.

Among other things, miners are striving to transfer 26% of their ownership into black hands by 2014 to reverse racial imbalances from white minority rule.

Shabangu said among the legislative amendments being considered to improve safety are hiked administrative penalties.

Other interventions may include the stoppage of unsafe mines, forcing mines to come up with quarterly reports on corrective measures, as well as the implementation of recommendations to improve safety in platinum mines. — Reuters

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