Pretoria, South Africa — 25 May 2012 – The South African government’s mine safety crackdown, which saw Anglo American Platinum lose about 100,000 oz of production as a consequence of so- called non-localised safety stoppages, appears to have been softened since a task- team comprising government, unions and industry met last month.
Miningmx reports that, according to chief inspector of mines David Msiza, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) returned to the regions to review the consistency with which Section 54 notices were issued.
A Section 54 issuance refers to a clause in the amended Mine Health and Safety Act that allows the DMR to halt mining operations at an entire operating section if need be. Industry has complained that since the opening of a new office in Rustenburg, Section 54 issuances have in some cases been for frivolous reasons such as cracked tiles in changing rooms.
The country’s platinum mines, in particular, said the overzealous application of safety legislation was harming profitability and making future mining more unsafe, as shaft maintenance did not respond well to stop-start activity.
“We’ve reviewed the enforcement guidelines,” said Msiza. “There needs to be consistent enforcement by the respective regions,” he added.
Although the review generated by the task team still has to be published, it’s thought that future Section 54 issuances will be guided by whether the offence is likely to lead to a fatality – thus excluding faulty bathroom taps, or a roof support with minor cracks.
Repeat offences will also incur Section 54s. “If there’s something that has been identified in the past 12 months, that’s something we’ll look at. We’re trying to do away with repeats,” said Msiza.
He believes, however, that the DMR’s tough stance has already paid dividends. “Last month we only had three fatalities, which is the lowest ever in history,” said Msiza.
Chamber of Mines of South Africa CEO Bheki Sibiya said: “For us to believe that Section 54s are legitimate there needs to be fair, clear and defensible implementation.” He stated, however, that there had been a convergence of minds between Government and industry, although he added: “If we can’t mine safely, we’re guilty of blood profit.”
Source: Miningmx. For more information, click here.