Posted on: June 13, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

The SA Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) is reviewing the Mine Health and Safety Act for tougher mining safety inspections.

SA Mineral Resources minister Susan Shabangu said in her Budget vote in June 2011 that the legislation review would “increase punitive measures against employers in violation of health and safety legislation”.

The DMR would form regional mining inspectorates, named compliance and investigation units, tasked with ‘inspections and audits’ and “stoppage of unsafe mines”.

MPRD Act review

Following a breakdown of DMR capacity to effectively licence and administrate mining licences, and bogging down of mining environmental enforcement in red tape, partly due to un-coordinated initiatives by the DMR and the Department of Environment, the DMR is also reviewing the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act to “remove ambiguities, make provision for consultations processes, and streamline licensing processes”.

The amendment is aimed in part to ‘improve regulation of mining of environmentally sensitive areas’.

Big inspection budget

The DMR is allocating R147-million to mining health and safety measures, including inspectors, administration capacity, legislation amendments, and licensing.

DMR minister Susan Shabangu had met with mining CEOs, giving priority to the platinum sector to discuss falls of ground.

Mines to develop fall of ground prevention standards

Minister Shabangu told Moneyweb that “we have not yet managed to find a sustainable mechanism in addressing issues of rock fall and seismic activities… we need more research in this area for us to be able to stabilise the mining environment in South Africa.

“Other factors are affecting [falls of ground], issues of fatigue among workers and, in some instances, negligence or recklessness by management.

“We are looking at mine health and safety and we have proposals for tightening up legislation and improving on the fines environment… we are looking at setting up standards, [or] depending on mining companies to set up standards for themselves.

“We want to improve by making sure we bring standards to use as a measurement, so that employers can take it over and improve safety standards in mines.”

Beneficiation research and incentives

DMR, Department of Science and Technology, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Mintek are poised to intensify research and development to support beneficiation. Mintek has been allocated R167-million for its part in the task.

Government’s long expected minerals beneficiation strategy, now nearing legislation, is expected to offer incentives for adding value to raw resources.

Tax and capital cost incentives for beneficiation would be aimed at training investment, skills retention, and infrastructure upgrades.

Government acknowledges that its railway and electricity services are inadequate to support mining development.

PHOTO; SA mining minister Susan Shabangu.

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