Johannesburg, South Africa --- MININGREVIEW.COM --- 14 October 2010 - South Africa's largest mining trade union "’ the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) "’ has called on the government to enact new legislation to compel mining companies to uphold higher safety standards and prevent avoidable mine accidents and deaths.
The NUM said the government should draw lessons from Chile's current incident, in which miners were trapped underground for 69 days in a collapsed mine.
South Africa has a dire mining safety record compared with the industrialised world, partly because it has some of the deepest mines in the world. Last year, 165 miners died in South African mines.
NUM president Senzeni Zokwana said most mining companies in South Africa were paying more attention to making big profits than to ensuring safety for their workers. “For miners to die in a situation where we think it is preventable is a lack of will on the part of employers,” he claimed.
“The capacity and the means to maintain safety are there, but for that to happen we need an instrument (law) from the government to ensure that mines conform to the safety requirements,” Zokwana insisted.
He also said the mining industry and the government should focus on the starting date of a state mining company, rather than continuing to talk about the nationalisation of mines.