South Africa. A death at Pamodzi Gold’s East Rand operation early on Monday morning pushed the death toll in the mining sector since Tuesday to ten.
There were six deaths at mines owned by AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said at the weekend. The other deaths are related to platinum mining.
“Our main concern is with Mining Safety in the gold mining sector. The deep levels these mines reach in South Africa are causing bigger Health and Safety risks to mine workers,” trade union Solidarity spokesperson Ilze Nieuwoudt told Miningmx.
Solidarity confirmed a figure of 71 official fatalities so far in 2009, which has risen to 72 with Monday morning’s death.
The Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate said the total number of mine deaths in 2008 came to 168, with over half of those in the gold mining sector. This represented a 24% improvement over 2007’s 221 fatalities.
New chief executives in the major mining companies, have made Safety a priority. There is now a concerted drive on a number of fronts to make mines safer. AngloGold Ashanti under Australian Mark Cutifani recorded its first ever fatality free quarter in the three months to end-June 2008.
The government has also clamped down on mine deaths, temporarily shutting worker areas where there have been fatalities, as well as upping fines for health and safety violations.
The fatality rate per million hours worked dropped to 0.15 in 2008 from 0.21 in 2007. This is an improvement in Mine Safety of 28.6%.