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MP Quayson Returns to Parliament After Health Hiatus

Minerals Council and Stakeholders Discuss Path to Zero Harm

by Oluwatosin Alabi

At the 2024 Mining Indaba, which has now progressed into its impactful second day, the primary focus has pivoted towards the paramount issue of mining safety. The Minerals Council South Africa, in collaboration with various stakeholders, held a media briefing dedicated to discussing strategies and insights on enhancing the well-being of miners and averting tragic incidents in the sector.

Despite experiencing a setback in the stride towards achieving a zero-harm environment in 2023, the Minerals Council, alongside the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), reported substantial strides towards this noble goal. The year 2022 witnessed a historical reduction in fatalities to 49, marking a 42% decline from the 84 fatalities recorded in 2014. This achievement underscores a concerted effort towards safeguarding miners’ lives.

Japie Fullard, Chair of the CEO Zero Harm Forum, emphasized that the industry would continue to adopt leading global practices, innovative mining methods, and cultivate a health and safety culture at mining operations. He highlighted that the industry’s commitment to safety and health has led to a significant decrease in fatalities and injuries from 2014 to 2022, with falls-of-ground and transportation-and-mining identified as leading causes.

Mzila Mthenjane, CEO of the Minerals Council, underscored the critical importance of employee health and safety to the industry’s sustainability. Despite a commendable safety performance in the previous year, 2023 saw a regression in the number of fatalities, a development that the Minerals Council awaits final figures on from the DMRE.

The council’s 2023 Facts and Figures Pocketbook revealed an unfortunate incident in November that claimed 13 lives, derailing the industry’s positive safety trajectory. Fullard highlighted the industry’s unity and mutual support in the wake of this tragedy, reinforcing the notion that safety transcends competition.

The Minerals Council Board and CEO Zero Harm Forum are diligently tracking progress on the trackless mobile machinery project aimed at curtailing transport-related incidents. This initiative is part of broader efforts to improve mining health and safety, including adopting technological innovations at the Mandela Mining Precinct and enhancing vehicle and personnel communication systems.

Dr. Thuthula Balfour, Head of Health at the Minerals Council, noted significant advancements in miner health, despite fluctuations in occupational disease reporting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry reported a 4% decrease in serious injuries in 2023, highlighting progress amidst challenges.

As the Mining Indaba continues, the Minerals Council South Africa’s initiatives serve as a testament to the industry’s unwavering commitment to improving safety and health standards. Through continuous innovation, collaboration, and adherence to best practices, the South African mining sector is poised to achieve its zero-harm aspirations, ensuring a safer and healthier work environment for all miners.

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