8 May 2012
A safety crackdown reduced the number of fatalities at South Africa’s mines to a record low of three in April – down from an average of 11 or more per month.
“There has been a significant improvement on health and safety since the department intensified enforcement measures at the mines,” Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu told the National Council of Provinces in Cape Town on Monday.
“In fact, the month of April 2012 has recorded the lowest fatalities ever, of three deaths, when compared with other historical figures, which were generally more than 11 deaths per month.”
South Africa’s mines are the world’s deepest and among the most dangerous, and Shabangu’s ministry has been leading a drive that has included a surge in inspections and stoppages for safety violations.
This year to date, 39 people have lost their lives in South African mines compared with 42 in the same period in 2011, while the number of mine injuries fell 35 percent to 668, Shabangu said.
South Africa’s mining output fell sharply in volume terms in February, the latest month for which data is available, highlighting the impact of the safety push.
Production of platinum group metals (PGMs) fell 47.6 percent, while gold output fell 11.5 percent in volume terms in February. Total mineral production was down 14.5 percent compared with the same month last year.