SA mining safety stoppage rules discussed

SA mining inspectors, mining industry and labour unions are negotiating incident stoppages in terms of the Mine Heath and Safety Amendment Section 54 notices.

SA Department of Minerals Resources (DMR) chief inspector David Msiza acknowledged “potentially unfair applications” of mining operational stoppages following fatalities or major incidents. A joint task team was formed to agree on fair health and safety enforcement stoppages in reaction to incidents or complaints from workers.

Some mines perform voluntary safety stoppages, named ‘stop and fix’. Inspectorate stoppages incidentally reduce production, make business news, and could increase platinum and other precious metals prices.

Anglo Platinum and Lonmin complained in their business reports that safety stoppages had affected platinum production severely.

SA Chamber of Mines said the joint mining safety inspection application task team was formed as a regular Mining Industry Growth, Development and Employment Task Team (Migdett)

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) reported 32 recent safety stoppages, following rolling inspections and stoppages, anticipated by DMR, as reported on in advance of the spate of stoppages starting last year.

Serial mining safety stoppages first became a business issue during the initial economic slowdown in 2011, when 36 mine stoppages were reported. However, stoppages rose to 81 in 2011, prompting formation of the enforcement task team.

Annual platinum production was generally stable in the last two years, at a level lower than the production peak prior to the credit crunch. Amplats said it was managing its major health and safety risks.

DMR split provincial platinum and gold inspectorates
The DMR inspectorate said that platinum mines in North West province were divided into two and allocated to two DMR offices, with a principal platinum inspector in Rustenburg and a principal gold mining inspector in Klerksdorp.

DMR chief inspector Msiza had briefed the SA parliament, and commented that several mining CEOs had complained about work days lost and other effects of closing a shaft following major incidents. Section 54 notices could follow a workplace death, severe injury, ‘dangerous occurrence’, or repeated contraventions of mining health and safety legislation.

Work stoppages could negatively affect safety, and require elaborate startup procedures. The DMR argues that about 90% of the country’s fatalities occurred in larger mines.

NGO pressure for African mining sheq

Bench Marks Foundation (BMF) called on mining companies to ensure beneficiation of local communities where they operate. The report also urged companies to consider health safety if the local communities, reports Coastweek.

BMF Programs Manager Brown Motsau criticised ‘window dressing’ programmes, from its independent monitoring or corporate performance and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Synergy Global Consulting director Paul Kapelus said local communities were increasingly seeking economic benefit from mining activities in their regions through equity stakes, infrastructure development, job creation, and contracts for services and goods.

BMF Monitoring Action Project reports on ‘despair faced by Rustenburg communities despite rich mining operations’ in a ‘Rustenburg Community Report 2011’. BMF alleges that mining social reports are “half truths”.
SA Development Bank official Paul Baloyi called on Africa governments to create enabling environments to ensure that the continent’s rich natural resources are fully exploited to benefit the continent, ensured by regulation to make mining accountable and responsible to local communities, including monitoring authority.

Citing some townships in Rustenburg, the report states that local mining companies ‘generally do not consider the impact their emissions has on the environment and on public health… near poor communities.”

The BMF report was released concurrently with Bench Marks Center for Corporate Social Responsibility, a research initiative aimed at contributing towards sustainable development in the province and in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The research center will stimulate and conduct research and training in corporate social responsibility, and through community engagement.

PHOTO; Chief mines inspector David Msiza acknowledged “potentially unfair applications” of mining operational stoppages following fatalities or major incidents.

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