South Africa. The mine audit ordered by former President Thabo Mbeki with regard to the countrywide Health and Safety of mines to gauge compliance with Health and Safety legislation has been made public by the Department of Minerals and Energy. The audit was prompted by an incident in October 2007 when 3200 workers were trapped underground in a mine. According to the audit report, mines received a 66% compliance score. The high death rate at mines has prompted the Government to shut mines down temporarily, which in turn means a reduction in output.
The mining sectors audited were coal, diamond, gold, platinum, and other small scale mining sections, and these served to show that there are many areas in the mining industry that needed improvement. The mining industry scored 56% for Health Risk management, 59% for Occupational Health and Safety, and 65% for Public Health and Safety compliance. The highest score achieved was in legal appointments with the mining industry receiving a rating of 75%.
When individually evaluated, the diamond mining sector scored 47% for Health Risk management regulations, the gold mining sector scored 53% for Health Risk management, with Platinum scoring only 58% in mine explosives control. “South Africa is the oldest mining country in the world, and Health and Safety regulations and standards should have been perfected a long time ago. “We [as the department] are not very happy with the state of affairs,” Minister of Minerals and Energy, Buyelwa Sonjica remarked. The minister also added that the department would be focusing on maintenance and upkeep of mining infrastructure, as well as educating mineworkers of what to do in dangerous situations. She further added that penalties regulating the mining industry were not well enforced and needed improvement.
Both the NUM (National Union Workers) General secretary, Frans Baleni, and the President of the South African Chamber of Mines, Sipho Nkosi, were reported as being supportive of the audit and pleased with the release of the report. Mr. Baleni stating that the report was long overdue. Mr Nkosi stated that mine safety was critical and should be taken seriously.