A goldmine on the eastern fringe of Johannesburg has been severely disabled by the xenophobic sentiment that has erupted across the country.
With over 85 percent of its workforce being comprised of Mozambicans, it reported on the 23 May, that it had ‘not been operating since Monday’, a full working week, as too much of its workforce had not reported for duty.
Another affected East Rand mine was operating, but, with only 42 percent of its workforce on site, production was said to be at ‘lower levels’. Migrant labour plays a vital, and typically underestimated, role in the South African economy.
This effect is largely due to the fact that the mining sector depends on foreign workers to bolster their workforces. The events of the last two weeks have spurred an exodus of immigrants returning to their home countries.
At its height, ten thousand Mozambicans were crossing back onto home soil per day, taking with them skills that South Africa is in need of. Zimbabwe too has thrown open its gates for returning citizens. On top of short term production losses, the effects of this latest crisis may have longer lasting consequences. Lost skills will take time and money to replace.
Two weeks after the attacks began many mines are reporting that operations are in full swing, although the hardest hit are still struggling with shortfalls in labour. It will be a few more weeks before these mines are able to quantify their losses. Amidst this background Mining Review Africa hosts its Safety in Deep Mining Conference, which will include a focus on measures to provide pragmatic solutions to the problems of xenophobia that pertain to mines and mineworkers.
This must-attend two-day conference which takes place 16-17 July in Johannesburg is dedicated to demonstrating how new technologies can benefit the industry whilst reviewing the drivers, standards, safety, social and environmental challenges facing deep and high stress mining.
A hands-on pre-conference workshop will evaluate the methodologies and technologies of high stress mining and examine the implementation of mine emergency management systems. While people look to the state for answers and direction, action (or inaction) by the employers of foreign workers is sure to be as influential a factor in the decision by resident immigrants whether to remain and continue to work or to return home.
With a host of dangers to face beneath the soil, the added disincentive of being threatened on the surface will surely feature heavily in many miners’ minds. More than ever mining companies have the need to signal a firm commitment to the wellbeing of their workers.
The Safety in Deep Mining conference will bring together high-level government stakeholders, mine management and operations personnel – including mining analysts, consultants, mine health and safety management specialists, and quality control staff – as well as engineers, equipment suppliers and mining contractors to discuss the contemporary safety issues that confront the mining industry in Africa.
Additional information can be found at www.miningreview.com/events.